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Din Tai Fung

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Is there any place just as good but cheaper?

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Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

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  1. Mei Long Village is probably a bit cheaper (though not by any order of magnitude), and has great xiao long bao, but is more of a complete-Shanghai-menu place, not just a dumpling house. So it's not exactly apples vs. oranges, more like apples vs. pears. For what it's worth, I like them both.

    Closer to Din Tai Fung (geographically), I also like Shanghai Bamboo House, and think Chang's Garden is a wee bit overrated ... but then a lot of folks here seem to disagree.

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    Mei Long Village
    301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

    11 Replies
    1. re: Bradbury

      Dragon Mark and J&J in the same complex as Mei Long Village also have xlb and, I believe I have read are much cheaper. Cannot comment on quality.

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      Mei Long Village
      301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      Dragon Mark
      301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      1. re: Ciao Bob

        Dragon Mark! Ithought Dragon Mark was closed.

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        Dragon Mark
        301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        1. re: SeaCook

          Dragon Mark sign was still up this past weekend, but I didn't go into the plaza, so I can't confirm one way or the other. Can anyone else?

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          Dragon Mark
          301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

          1. re: JThur01

            In that one little strip mall location you have 4 different purveyors of XLB

            Dragon Mark
            Mei Long Village
            Jin Jiang (or J&J)
            Happy Kitchen

            Must be something in the water ...

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            Mei Long Village
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            Happy Kitchen
            301 W. Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA

            Jin Jiang Restaurant
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 109, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            Dragon Mark
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

      2. re: Bradbury

        I think the OP would find it helpful to know that the shopping center that houses Mei Long Village also houses J&J/Jin Jian and Dragon Mark - both primarily offer xlb as well. And xlb are not confined to Shanghai-specific eateries - they're available at dim sum houses, Taiwanese bakeries, coffee shops, and the list goes on as these have become so popular in the past few years.

        This is not to say that they are all good - they are not, but there are some "unorthodox" places where one can find very good renditions of xlb. Our last taste was at Dean Sin World on Garfield in Monterey Park. We found these to be very tasty, a reasonable amount of soup in them, steamed perfectly and very reasonable in price, which I don't exactly recall - maybe $4 and change for 10? And if you want to take some home, don't fret. Dean Sin World sells the same xlb but frozen. Take a bag of 50 xlb home and steam them yourself for about $15. They will even explain the finer points of steaming them to you but understanding Mandarin helps. Place the nappa leaf in the steamer and bring the water to a boil first. Once the steamer is up to maximum potential, it is then that you place the frozen xlb on the nappa leaf and let it steam for 20 minutes. She said that if you place the xlb in before the steamer reaches its maximum, the skins will turn flabby and weak - a high likelihood that they will tear. Don't forget to pick up the black vinegar and ginger. My wife prefers Indonesian sambal manis pedis - I know, blasphemy. And as I kowtow to Ipsedixit, I recite the mantra, "xlb are not dumplings..."

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        Mei Long Village
        301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        Dean Sin World
        306 N Garfield Ave # 2, Monterey Park, CA

        Dragon Mark
        301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        1. re: bulavinaka

          I'm sorry... but what is xlb?

          1. re: danniethepooh

            xlb is shorthand for Xiao Long Bao. I'm sorry if I assumed that it was the xlb that you were after since Din Tai Fung is primarily known for this particular type of bun.

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            Din Tai Fung Restaurant
            1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

            1. re: bulavinaka

              oh no! :) haha i did mean that. i just needed to know what xlb meant :)

          2. re: bulavinaka

            Thank you sooo much! :)

            1. re: danniethepooh

              My pleasure. Food = Fun = Food :)

            2. re: bulavinaka

              I used to help out in my family's Chinese restaurant when I was younger. But that's another story.

          3. I greatly prefer the XLB at J&J to those at Din Tai Fung. I think the filling has a lot more flavor and the bao tend to have a great deal more soup inside. And they're cheaper. I was just there today and it was excellent. I've spent a lot of time in Shanghai and Taipei and I'd be happy with J&J's XLB in either of those places. Dragon Mark and Mei Long Village - next door to J&J, also have XLB that I prefer to those at Din Tai Fung, but I like J&J the best.

            J&J Shanghai, 301 W. Valley Blvd, San Gabriel

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            Din Tai Fung Restaurant
            1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

            Mei Long Village
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            Dragon Mark
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            1. Can you be more specific? What do you like at DTF? Is it the xlb's? Is it their other food? What about the xlb's do you like? Do you like thin skin? Do you like thick skin? Do you just want the soupy goodness, etc?

              6 Replies
              1. re: PandanExpress

                I'm sorry for not specifying what i go for exactly.
                its the dumplings with the soupy goodness inside of them that i like :)

                1. re: danniethepooh

                  >>its the dumplings with the soupy goodness inside of them that i like :)<<

                  That would be the xlb (xiao long bao) as you already know. Xlb falls into the dumpling category for most of us, but bao = bun, and regardless of how it looks or feels in the mouth, that's how it's classified - a bit of trivia that one day might save you on Jeopardy!

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    "a bit of trivia that one day might save you on Jeopardy!" or, from the wrath of Ipse. ;>)

                    1. re: JAB

                      Man ... am I really that big of an ogre???

                      :-)

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        No, you're just one of the more outspoken ones with a penchant for colorful metaphors. :-)

                        1. re: raytamsgv

                          Agreed

              2. for xlb, go to dean sin world. very good stuff.

                1. "Is there any place just as good but cheaper?"
                  _____________________________________________

                  No, there are no places just as good but cheaper.

                  There are only places that are better but cheaper. (See bulavinaka, supra).

                  1. It depends on your criteria. If you are referring primarily to food, then I would say J&J in San Gabriel. But the decor and parking at those places aren't nearly as good as Din Tai Fung's. J&J and Mei Long Village have more extensive menus than Din Tai Fung.

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                    Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                    1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                    Mei Long Village
                    301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                    1. Just went to MLV. We have been several times in the past. While the XLB were better in my opinion than DTF, they weren't completely steamed and there and were very difficult to remove from the serving dish without breaking. I was there with a friend who is originally from Taiwan. We got a fried pork chop that looked delicious. As I brought a piece to my mouth, I noticed that it smelled rancid. My friend exclaimed , "Oh, these places never change their oil", very nonchalantly. I asked her if I should say something. She shrugged and told me not to bother as she didn't think it would change their practice. She was pretty apathetic about. The chop went uneaten. Their pot stickers & pan fried noodles however were delicious. I still don't think I'll be back as I cannot get the memory of the rancid oil out of my mind.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Fru

                        I had fried spareribs (which looked more like pork chops) with rice cake at J&J on Wednesday and they were delicious, not in the least bit rancid. I also like J&J's XLB a lot better than Mei Long Village. I often find that the soup has run out of the bao at MLV and that they break quite easily.

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                        Mei Long Village
                        301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                        1. re: estone888

                          that is why i stopped going to MLV. without fail, there are always +/-3 broken xlb when served. this is no bueno!

                          1. re: wilafur

                            So it's not just me. J & J, here I come! I have NEVER experienced rancid oil in a restaurant. Was quite a turn off.

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                            J & J Cafe
                            509 N State St, Hemet, CA 92543

                      2. I love this place, but its too far away. Is there anything remotely like Din Tai Fung near the SFV or SCV. I'm guessing probably not, but maybe someone knows something closer.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mariechoke

                          Try Tampa Garden Chinese Delight in Reseda. It's an unassuming place run by a family that offers Chinese dishes from different areas but does include xlb and cat's ear noodles. Keep in mind that it is no Din Tai Fung in size, showmanship or refinement. But the home made feel you get from eating here is a nice experience in a different way. Speaking Mandarin is a plus, but not speaking it won't set you back either.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667376

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                          Tampa Garden
                          8241 Tampa Ave, Reseda, CA 91335