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Best Soup Dumplings

JD12 Mar 6, 2010 02:51 PM

Does anyone know where the best soup dumplings in Boston are? I loved eating them at Din Tai Fung when I was in Asia and miss them very much.

  1. Tir_na_nOg Mar 31, 2010 12:30 AM

    Sorry JD12, you are screwed.

    Eating Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung will forever spoil all other soup dumplings for you. Nothing in Boston comes remotely close, so we might as well call them "mini steam buns" to avoid insulting the real deal (which is one of those rare culinary creations that is worth daydreaming about).

    Anyone want to invest in a DTF branch here? (Although I've heard the LA branch doesn't live up to the original in Taipei.)

    Does Formosa Taipei do XLB? Only just heard about it from this thread (sorry to see the quirky little Denian's fold, but that site just wasn't going to work for such a specialized take-out only place). Can't see it on FT's menu.

    1. b
      bobot Mar 9, 2010 12:31 PM

      So I just looked at JoJo Taipei's menu and nothing clearly stood out as "soup dumpling". Anyone want to clue me in? The only place I've ever had them is Joe's Shanghai in NYC, where you just ask for pork dumplings and you get soup dumplings.

      6 Replies
      1. re: bobot
        ScubaSteve Mar 9, 2010 12:35 PM

        iirc it's- Jo Jo Special Mini Steamed Bun

        1. re: bobot
          another_adam Mar 9, 2010 03:21 PM

          I think the in-restaurant menu has been revised in such a way that they're more obvious now. (It struck me when we were there recently that there was something overtly labelled as soup dumplings now- though maybe I'm dreaming this)

          1. re: another_adam
            content Mar 12, 2010 10:49 AM

            They were still named Jo Jo Special Mini Steamed Bun, at least when we went there earlier this week. Tasty, but not very soupy.

            1. re: content
              another_adam Mar 30, 2010 07:50 AM

              I happened to stop by again last night, and they're definitely called soup dumplings on the menus we got in the restaurant (though the on-line one doesn't seem to be updated)

              That said, the skins were even thicker and less magical than my previous two recent experiences- almost chewy and whole-wheaty, even, sort of rough and rustic and not even quite flexible enough to stay together when picking them up, and the soup was too salty to want to dip them. I do remember that they used to be much better (though maybe my memories are clouded by having spent a lot of time in the meanwhile sampling the offerings of a high-competition XLB district). The 3 times I've gotten them at JoJo in the past few weeks have all been tasty but not sublime

              1. re: another_adam
                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 30, 2010 10:02 AM

                Apparently, Jojo's original chef split with one of the owners to open the takeout spot Formosa Taipei. There's going to be a transition period, I guess. Hope they come out of it okay.

                Formosa Taipei
                315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                  barleywino Mar 31, 2010 03:57 AM

                  if Jo Jo 's xlb have (temporarily?) gone downhill, try Unique Dumpling's version ("steamed juicy pork dumplings"), a bit thicker but decent amount of soup

        2. nsenada Mar 7, 2010 03:21 PM

          Anyone had them at Wing's recently? There version was occasionally great, but I haven't been since the new owners took over.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nsenada
            galangatron Mar 7, 2010 03:52 PM

            unfortunately the new wing's kitchen doesn't have soup dumplings on the menu. it is no longer a shanghainese restaurant

          2. barleywino Mar 6, 2010 03:10 PM

            closest to Din Tai Fung's would be Jo Jo Taipei's (Allston)

            17 Replies
            1. re: barleywino
              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 6, 2010 03:35 PM

              Jo Jo Taipei's are my first choice, but Shanghai Gate runs a close, close second. Either is worth multiple visits. Heck, they're three blocks from each other: make a soup dumpling crawl of it!

              Avoid Gourmet Dumpling House: not only are they too large, with too-tough skins, but the last time I had them, the crabmeat-accented filling had a distinct tinge of ammonia, which suggests lack of freshness.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                lipoff Mar 7, 2010 03:37 AM

                Taiwan Cafe might be a better choice for xiao long bao in Chinatown. Agree with the Shanghai Gate and Jo Jo Taipei suggestions.

                1. re: lipoff
                  ScubaSteve Mar 7, 2010 05:03 AM

                  i second TC's.

                  1. re: ScubaSteve
                    Niblet Mar 9, 2010 11:36 AM

                    You know, I had them at TC on Sunday, and I found the skins too thick and the rest of it just eh. I don't know if I'm getting too picky, or if I wasn't completely psyched for them or what, but I found that to be the case last time too. I haven't been dying to go back for them.

                    1. re: Niblet
                      ScubaSteve Mar 9, 2010 11:52 AM

                      i guess i'm in the minority as i like a thicker, more toothsome wrapper. i still feel TC's are very good and GDH's not good at all.

                      1. re: Niblet
                        Dax Mar 9, 2010 12:04 PM

                        I like the ones at TCs as they were one of my first forays into XLBs, but the ones at JJT are better. TC's are thicker and have less soup to meat, so they're mostly meat and skin. JJT's have thinner skin and seem to be a lot soupier, or maybe it just seems so as less skin means less filling. I tend to be a cram the whole thing in your mouth at once for the taste explosion type of guy, so that was my thing.

                        Caveat: do not spill out the innards over rice as the look is less than appetizing, regardless of the taste. This is magnified if the aspic has congealed already ...

                        1. re: Dax
                          ScubaSteve Mar 9, 2010 12:30 PM

                          really? hmmm.
                          my experiences with TC's have been that there was plenty of soup.

                          i'm a crammer too. i bite off the top, slurp out some soup, add some black vinegar, then in it goes.

                  2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                    galangatron Mar 7, 2010 03:45 PM

                    it's been many years but i liked the pork soup dumplings i had during my initial visit to gourmet dumpling house. although i agree with you that the pork and crabmeat soup dumplings weren't very good

                  3. re: barleywino
                    another_adam Mar 7, 2010 08:38 AM

                    Has there been a change in the Jo Jo XLB lately? I hadn't been there in a while, and then happened to make it there twice last week. The dumplings seemed to be less delicate than I remembered- a thicker and chewier wrapping. They did have the advantage of requiring fewer acrobatics to avoid losing the precious contents, but they weren't quite as good as I thought I remembered...

                    1. re: another_adam
                      Torolover Mar 7, 2010 02:57 PM

                      I heard the chef at Jo Jo Taipei left. I noticed their Dan Dan noodles are different too. They don't use the thick udon type anymore. Anyone know what happened to the chef?

                      1. re: Torolover
                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 7, 2010 03:34 PM

                        There's a new satellite restaurant, Formosa Taipei, in Lexington that apparently has at least some of the original kitchen staff of Jo Jo Taipei:


                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                          Nab Mar 7, 2010 05:24 PM

                          Interestingly, or perhaps not at all, I noticed today that the JoJo website has recently changed (since last week).

                      2. re: another_adam
                        Nab Mar 7, 2010 03:07 PM

                        I was there last weekend - in fact, had both TC's and JoJo's XLBs both in the same weekend. JoJo's were as fine a rendition as I recall - excellent thin skins with great sag factor and loaded with fatty soup. Perhaps a bit large for my preference, but the best in town for my tastes. TC's also lived up to memory - great soup, toothsome, thicker skins.

                        Didn't notice anything else out of the ordinary at JoJo, then again, our order was fairly up the middle road - beef w/ longhorns, gua bao, 3-cup chicken/cuttlefish, XLBs. All top-notch.

                        1. re: Nab
                          galangatron Mar 7, 2010 03:48 PM

                          how are the gua bao at jo jo taipei?

                          i had really disappointing gua bao last week at taiwan cafe. the bao was too big, the pork belly was dry, and there was way too much sugar. i was hoping they'd be as good as previous visits

                          1. re: galangatron
                            Nab Mar 7, 2010 05:22 PM

                            They are good, though not necessarily best in class. Also a bit heavy-handed with the sugar, but the belly is luscious, bao supple, good balance in fillings ... except for all that sweet grit. But then again, this is one case where I eschew tradition and would prefer them entirely without sugar. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think.


                          2. re: Nab
                            another_adam Mar 7, 2010 05:46 PM

                            That's good to know- maybe I hit them on an off (couple of) night(s). We thought that the dipping sauce was better balanced than in the past (not so overwhelmingly gingery), but the wrappers were a bit chewier than before. (Or maybe I just don't remember them right- I've just spent much of the winter feasting on sublime XLB that may have colored my perception somewhat...) Other things were generally as excellent as before. I always miss the appetizers of peanuts, pickles, and pig ears from the old days, though...

                            I was also surprised to see that Jo Jo is now selling embroidered Totoro cell phone cozies in the front near the register :)

                            1. re: Nab
                              Dax Mar 9, 2010 10:52 AM

                              Basically what Nab said. It was good to visit Boston for a mini-XLB run. I could also do without the somewhat gritty sugar powder on the gua bao.

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