Xiao Long Bao Kitchen [South San Francisco]
- caryjones Jan 7, 2010 07:22 AM
Passed by there last weekend but had already eaten. This new Chinese restaurant is at 331 Grand in SSF. They have a large menu with lots of spicy dishes like hot chili oil soup and home made steamed pork bacon with spicy flour (?). Also Shanghai sizzling rice soup, an XL Xiao Long Bao, pan fried pumpkin cake, Sounds interesting. Open M-F, 11-3, and 5-9. S,S 10-3 and 5-9
Well there is a history of pretty good Chinese restaurant around there. Anybody remember Full Moon Seafood at the same location back about 15 years ago?
Mrs. Wineguy and I stopped in for lunch today, and we loved it. We shared the following:
Xiao Long Bao; 8 dumplings with extremely thin wrappers, small amount of a flavorful and porky soup and plenty of meat.
Vegetable Dumplings; 8 steamed crescent shaped dumpling with translucent wrappers and a very fresh tasting filling.
Pan Fried Pumpkin Pancakes; 3 slightly oily pancakes with dough made with pumpkin and filled with sweet black bean paste. The pancake reminded me of the texture of Mochi. These took a while to arrive at our table.
Stir Fried Noodles Shanghai Style; typical thick wheat noodles stir fried with soy sauce, shredded pork and spinach.
The menu is big and we'll need to go back many times to mine the other gems. Everything was fresh and tasty and we would re-order. Service was very pleasant.
I discovered the existence of this restaurant in a 10% off ad in The SF Examiner for Shanghai Dumpling Shop. The ad listed the Millbrae address and "our new location" at 331 Grand Ave, SSF.
The menu now is an illustrated, plastic-coated, multi-page booklet. Dishes are coded by letters and numbers (e.g. CS for Chef Specials, D for [Shanghai] Dim Sum, SP for Soup).
I had the steam basket of 8 xiao long bao dumplings. The filling was delicious and the dough was strong enough not to break until I bit into it. The restaurant was quite chilly (I never unbuttoned my coat); while I had to take care that the liquid in the first two dumplings did not burn my tongue, the cool air cooled the dumplings rapidly, and the liquid in the last two was only lukewarm.
Besides the dumplings, I ordered a green onion pancake. I was served a complimentary bowl of hot and sour soup to start and a complimentary dessert: a bowl of warm, sweet clear liquid with small, white, sticky rectangles floating in it.
At 7 pm on a Tuesday evening, only a few tables were occupied, but people kept coming in to pick up take-out meals. (I heard one woman ask for chicken chow mein. I hope the public learns to appreciate the Shanghai dishes.)
My mom drove by this place the other day and remarked it was called Bao Gao Deem (Canto) or Bao Jiao Dien (Mandarin). This leads me to conclude it's another project by the Shanghai Dumpling Shop folks in SF and Millbrae. And if it is the case, that's good news for the KQED Check Please SDS fans, but given two less than stellar visits at the Millbrae location last year, I'm not going to be the first in line to check them out (and plus I found SDS overall to be inconsistent as well as average, below average when they don't nail the mark). If the menu is wide, has lots of pictures (like a Denny's menu) then that's a sure fire sign it's under the SDS umbrella.
Great place! Initially, drove my parents over to try Hung To Seafood for dim sum, but my parents weren't impressed by the looks of Hung To and didn't want to wait. I guess they compared it Koi Palace, Hong Kong Lounge in SF, etc. So, we went to Xian Long Bao Kitchen. We've never heard of the place, but saw it as we passed by Grand Avenue getting to Hung To. Arrived around 12:30 Sunday, and place was half empty, no wait.
We had a party of 6: 5 adults, and one 12 year old. Ordered 2 orders Xiao Long Bao Dumplings, order of Chive Dumplings, Green Onion Pancake, Fried Buns (w/condensed milk), Sesame Rice Dumplings w/crushed peanut, Mu Shu Chicken, and Dan Dan Noodles (Noodle w/Sesame Sauce in Soup). We didn't order meat or seafood dishes since we were at a Chinese banquet the night before. Everything was finished and we didn't have to pack anything to go.
I was thoroughly surprised, everything was tasty, fresh, and overall very good. The onion pancake came out hot, crispy, thin, and tasty. XLB came out steaming hot with a good amount of broth inside, and skin texture was just right. Never had mu shu chicken, but liked the fact the veggies were not overcooked, and the chicken was lean.
Noodles w/Sesame Sauce (Dan Dan Mian). I've tried many versions of this, and everyone seems to make it differently. The version here does NOT have any sesame sauce (unlike the version at Little Beijing (Noriega, San Francisco)) and their "sauce" is more soupy than saucy. I liked the version nonetheless. Can't say much about the sauce, other than it's a mildly spicy red colored sauce with some ground meat (pork?). The sauce was average, but enough to drench and flavor the excellent noodles.
Did not taste the sesame balls since I was already full, but can say they were double the size of regular sesame balls, almost the size of a small egg. My mom said the fried buns were more "chewy" than how she had it at another place before, but I thought they were just right.
Total cost was around $70 and worth every penny. Can't wait to come here again and try the pig feet, stomach, drunken chicken, hot and spicy beef, and maybe the spicy pork intestine clay pot and combination bean jelly (fen pi).
They have, to my knowledge, the only extra large XLB in the bay area. This isn't the mammoth tang bao they sell in Shanghai to be sipped up with a straw ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9022... ), but it piqued my curiosity and only costs $3.50.
The beast requires a 20 minute wait according to the menu, and is steamed on top of a ceramic dish to prevent leaking through the bamboo steamer. The first few spoonfuls of soup and the top of the meatball were fatty and were comparable in flavor to some of the better Bay Area XLB places. But as I got to the bottom of the wrapper, the soup turned into a cloudy paste that lacquered the bottom of the meatball. The sides of the skin were fine, but the top crimps and the bottoms of the XL XLB don't belong in anyone's digestive system.
This post reminds me of a visit I made last week to the DTF location in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. The XLB there are generally well regarded, but what really struck me about them this time was the incredibly high quality of the soup inside, which I had never noticed before. The wrappers were thin, but very strong and elastic. Everything else was pretty good, but the quality of the soup was very noticeable. Maybe I went on a particularly good day...