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Given how much written space has been devoted to finding great XLB in Vancouver, I thought it would be interesting to point out this thread on the General Board about whether XLB should be made using gelatinized soup to create the soup or whether it's more appropriate and better that it's really created from the juices of the filling.



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  1. I've been following that thread. My take: the current exemplars (Din Tai Fung, Nanxiang Mantou Dian, etc.) serve a somewhat modern style: very soupy, light and "shaggy" meat ball, light, sweet and thin soup, very thin skin. Here, you will get that style at Long's, Wang's and all the other usual suspects.

    There is also an "old-school" style (for the lack of a better description) - probably still being served outside the big cities (specifically Shanghai and environs) in China. It is much more savoury, the broth is a bit greasy, it has less broth, the meat ball is more flavourful and dense, and the preparation is augmented with stuff like Chinese ham, the skin is a bit thicker, etc. Not too many places serve that style here now, but you can still get it at Ningtu on Kingsway.

    The "new" souped-up style pretty much needs the augmentation of gelatin (powdered or a home-made aspic). The older style uses collagen-rich skin and other bits to get the soupiness - with the side effect of greasier, more savoury and salty broth and chunkier meatball.

    Ningtu Restaurant
    2130 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T5, CA

    16 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      So would you say that Ningtu is "old school" and not actually augmenting their filling with the gelatinized broth? I wonder if all these years of eating at Green Village (on Nanaimo) and the other place on Granville (around 67th) were doing it the old fashioned juicy meat vs augmented.

      Ningtu Restaurant
      2130 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T5, CA

      1. re: bdachow

        I'll have to go back to Ningtu now to see if they still do it that way..but from the relatively small amount of (really savoury) broth - I would say no. The old Green Village and The Place both are "new school". (The Place used to be where Yu Miao, Lin's dim sum chef used to make her now famous XLB).

        Ningtu Restaurant
        2130 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T5, CA

        1. re: fmed

          And The Place immediately went down hill after that.

          Lin's XLB rates in the top 5 for me.

          1. re: LotusRapper

            agreed havent been back to The Place since either..

            agree with fmed list of top 4 . never tried Long's.. one of this day i will..
            SV skin a little thicker than the others and it has a vent at the top.

            lotus wrapper i believe the summer night market had a XLB competition with nathan foong as one of the judges. moaia from lin;s won. there was 5 or 6 competitiors

            agree with bdchow , wish we could sample them all side by side..

            1. re: betterthanbourdain

              Rent a bus and drive to all five of the top contenders one after the other? I'm in!

              And the only reason I haven't been back to Long's in so long (groan) is the wait for a table. I must try to go by this weekend at a weird time and get an order...

              1. re: grayelf

                i'm in.... will a minivan do?

                r u going to Long's after you go to Bo's? D

                1. re: betterthanbourdain

                  Jeesh, I guess so -- we can wear masks or something. But it'll have to be separate from Bo's because I'm too full when I leave there...

          2. re: fmed

            Wouldn't it be great if they could just have a XLB off, have all the restaurants (Wang's, Lin's, Long's, Shanghai Village, Shanghai River, etc...)contribute a sample so you could just sit there and compare them all? Lol. In my dreams...

            Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House
            1537W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J1W6, CA

            Crystal Mall
            4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

            Shanghai River Restaurant
            7831 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X1A4, CA

            Shanghai Village
            3250 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W4, CA

            1. re: bdachow

              It's time to start a new thread...my old XLB survey thread is a bit out of date (I can't even find it anymore....).

              My top five:

              Shanghai Village

              They are all good and tied for top spot. A cop out for a top-five list, I know.

              They are of that "new-school" thin skin/thin broth/light meatball/hyper-soupy Shanghai variety.

              1. re: fmed

                Yeah, I tried to use the search function to find your old XLB thread but couldn't dig it out.

                I am a fan of the thin skin (not liking the dough balls), light meatball but I do say that I like a little robustness in my broth so don't mind a little grease to it as long as it's flavoured well. But not too soupy though, if I wanted to drink soup, I'd order soup, it needs to be fairly moist meat and a good slurp but that's about it.

                1. re: bdachow

                  I found it:
                  (I've moved it here to the new board, but I isn't showing up in searches. It probably takes time).

                2. re: fmed

                  +1 for fmed's top five (although my Long's XLB experience is way out of date, so that's assuming they haven't changed) and Lin's is number one only if you are getting the XLBs made in front of you by Yu Miao. Don't get me started on Lin's inconsistencies and service issues...

                  1. re: grayelf

                    That and the unfortunate salmon pink decor...kind of gag worthy...

                    1. re: bdachow

                      I thought the pink is kind of calming ;-)

                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        In a pepto bismol kind of way...hee hee...

                3. re: bdachow

                  Like those beef noodle competitions in Taiwan, we could have annual XLB (and whatever else, like dan dan noodles, dumplings) competitions here :-)

          3. Hi folks, just a quick note:

            If you'd like to discuss the differences between the XLB at various restaurants in Vancouver, by all means please do so here.

            If you'd like to discuss general XLB preparation methods, we'd ask that you follow bdachow's link above and post on the thread over on our General Chowhounding Topics board.


            1 Reply
            1. re: The Chowhound Team

              I was careful to include actual names of restaurants here in Vancouver in the post - ;-)