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Nov 1, 2010 10:31 PM

giant XLB somewhere in SoCal?

I recently re-watched the Shanghai episode of "No Reservations," and now I can't get the image of that giant XLB with a straw out of my head (the one from Nanxiang). I think it's called tang bao (?). Maybe I'm opening up a can of worms, but can anyone direct me to where I can find one - anywhere in Southern California? Thanks!

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  1. The "X" in XLB stands for xiao, which in turn means "small" in Chinese. Small, as in "the opposite of giant".

    7 Replies
    1. re: J.L. what are they called? I realize they aren't XLB, but since I can't find the info, that's why I asked.

      1. re: jjsawrey

        Long Bao, or simply bao.

        Bao are quite ubiquitous in most eateries specializing in northern Chinese fare. Or you can just buy some at 99 Ranch Market, in their "ready-made" food section.

        1. re: J.L.

          I'm pretty sure these are different, not simply bao. They appear to be constructed like XLB but on a much larger scale. I think it's tang bao.... Do they seriously sell them at 99 Ranch?

          1. re: jjsawrey

            I believe you want super size soup dumplings as seen in the 5th picture on this link.


              1. re: Galen

                They're only called 'NYC soup dumplings' in NYC...

                (I think I'll start referring to all burritos as 'L.A. Burritos' ;-)

                1. re: Galen

                  No no no, these are not what the op is looking for. The only place I'd ever seen them advertised was in the restaurant that took over when Heavy Noodling left. However, there has been turnover since then and I have not seem them since. We also ordered these when we were in Shanghai and puppychao is right. The point is the soup, not the skin. It was fine but unspectacular. I agree in sticking with a good version of the real XLB.

                  Mr Taster

      2. I've never seen it for sale anywhere in So Cal. I think it might be a liability issues; drinking hot soup out of a straw.

        1. I just got back from visiting Shanghai and visited The Nanjing Dumpling Restaurant. The Tang Bao are filled with a nice stock, but the dough on the outside is not really meant to be eaten.

          To be honest the tang bao is nothing special. Definitely stick with XLB.


          1 Reply
          1. re: puppychao

            chowhound comes through again, great pic.

          2. May I ask why you are looking for "Tang Bao" or 湯包?

            There really not that different. The traditional 湯包 is simply a big 包子 where you simply let the "soup" inside the bun spill out into a soup spoon before finishing off the 包子.

            The ones you saw on "No Reservations" are sort of the gentrified version of 湯包, a sort of baroque, over-glamorized version where they serve it to you with a big oversized, caveman-like looking straw.

            Either one -- the traditional or the modern -- do not taste any different from a typical XLB.

            Now, if what you are after is the experience of sucking soup out of a big straw, then just order a bowl of pork knuckle soup, grab one of those oversized straws they provide at Tea Cup, or Lollicup, when you order a boba tea, and have at it.

            All of that said, I'm going to try and be helpful for once and not just a sarcastic curmudgeon. If you really want a big XLB, go to Dean Sin World and throw yourself at the mercy of Mama Lu to make you one. She's got the raw materials and the mojo to do it on a whim, no problems for sure. But do, stress "do", bring your own damn straw. It's one thing to impose, it's quite another to be rude about it.

            13 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              My suspicion is that it's the next big "touristy thing" to eat, and that the Bourdain is simply the media vehicle. Can't see this monstrosity existing in the Tang (not 湯) Dynasty, with a bamboo straw stickin' out.

              Any native Shanghai'ers out there who want to tell the rest of us whether this thing existed in Shanghai when you were growing up?

              1. re: J.L.

                In a strange way, this reminds me of a Chinese version of the SF Bread Bowl Clam Chowder idea.
                The straw is Certainly Weird, though...

              2. re: ipsedixit

                The problem with the name 湯包/Tang Bao is that it can be interpreted to mean either the giant baozi stuffed with all soup/drink with a straw, or another name for XLB in a loose sense (used in many places in China to many parts of Taiwan, such as night markets, calling them tang bao instead of XLB).

                Guan Tang Bao Zi 灌湯包子 is a more specific way to describe this monster that got hyped thanks to Bourdain: No Reservations Shanghai (and a bit easier to find in search). There is a place in Tainan Taiwan that specializes in this.

                Unfortunately a search for 灌湯包 (guan tang bao) usually returns xiao long bao lookalikes, and 灌湯包子 in Xian are really ugly looking XLB, and not the monster baozi with lots of soup inside.

                  1. re: K K

                    Thanks KK....I guess I'll call off the search. And probably never ask a question of chowhounders again. Just interested to try something I had never seen anywhere around here.

                    1. re: jjsawrey

                      jjsawrey - there was a place that was serving these in SGV, i'm trying to search for it on the boards b/c someone specifically posted about it. I can't seem to find it though, ill keep looking. That said i've had them in shanghai, but honestly i thought they paled in comparison to regular XLB, which i like much much better

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          oh yah i did miss that, that was what i was talking about

                      1. re: jjsawrey

                        Such a beast does not exist in Northern California either, and there was also an inquiry or two within a few weeks of the initial airing of the Bourdain episode in the SF Bay Area board.

                        The terminology can get really confusing, especially when parts of a word or an abbreviation (to "tang bao" inside of "guan tang bao zi"), ends up being used two way instead of one.

                        The idea of "guan tang" which in Cantonese could sound like putting the soup in a can (or enclosure) is pretty much exactly the same name as "guan tang jiao" (goon tong gao or 灌湯餃) in dim sum restaurants as sharks fin soup dumpling. I'm sure guan tang baozi was the forefather of sharks fin soup dumpling, where in the 70s and 80s in Hong Kong (now down to a handful of places), the soup was all inside and enclosed inside the duck egg dough based skin, but now it is too labor intensive and thus a dumpling without soup enclosed is served in a ceramic pot of superior stock.

                        And to confuse matters even more, Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong (and probably everywhere else, maybe Arcadia location has it too) last I went in 2002, had an item called xiao long tang bao 小籠湯包 if I am not mistaken, and it was the worst thing I've ever had....basically soupless dry limpy lifeless xiao long bao served in a dark strangely flavored broth that tasted nothing like the signature item's soupy juices (so avoid ordering this at all costs if it is on the menu). Just another example of what a "soup dumpling" might turn out to be...

                        1. re: K K

                          just to clear the air, i just talked to a friend in shanghai (born, raised and still lives in shanghai) she said in shanghai it's just simply called "tang bao" (i'm talking about the big kind you drink with a straw), which is a pretty generic name and could obviously could lead to alot of confusion as you said K K

                          1. re: Lau

                            Well XLB is also referred to as xiao long man tou in Shanghai, but I haven't seen that usage in California or even Hong Kong and Taipei.

                            Shanghainese have even come up with their own food definition of "authentic" and a specific word in Chinese that I haven't heard of that describes the opposite (basically meaning people trying to pass off something that isn't).

                            So tang bao may mean and refer to one thing specifically in Shanghai, but it appears to means soup dumpling generically elsewhere.

                            For fun, try entering "tang bao" (in Chinese) in a search engine. You will likely get more XLB like results.

                            1. re: K K

                              i agree as tang bao is a super generic term and i have seen it used in other chinese cuisines to mean something that is not an XLB or this giant tang bao.

                              Although i was just in shanghai and i never heard or read the xiao long man tou anywhere not to say that they don't, but i was there for a while and never saw it

                        2. re: jjsawrey

                          Don't let it get to you. XLB is an issue that happens to have been discussed halfway to Pluto and back, so some people have strong opinions about it. By all means, keep on asking questions. That's the one of the best ways to learn about something new.

                    2. my understanding differs.

                      in xi'an - guantang baozi are small (all shaanxi). they are basically xiaolongbao.
                      the tang baozi bourdain is eating is, i'm told, originally from ningbo - it's a version where the point is the soup, not hte filling, not the skin. you drink the broth, then toss the rest - if you're very fastidious, go ahead and eat it, but it's cooked to the point that the filling isn't all that tasty. with xlb (and xi'an guantang baozi) there is gelatinized soup (like the french use to enrich sauces - glace de viande) that is placed in the dumpling with the filling and they are just steamed to heat and cook through the filling. different animal.
                      but tang bao have been around for a while. i'd look around colima rd and ask. there was a plcae that had goubuli dumplings and i bet one of htose places prob makes the tangbao.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jerome

                        What do they call what we refer to as XLB in Hangzhou? Hangzhou tang bao?

                        I'm sure Xi'an world famous "dumpling banquet" (literally a multi course dinner of nothing but steamed dumpling goodness in all shapes and colors) includes some form of guan tang baozi.

                        Come to think of it, perhaps a search engine using Chinese characters (i.e. Southern California or San Gabriel Valley or Rowland Heights + tang bao or + guan tang bao zi) may hopefully pop up something. Interesting, didn't know about the Ningbo connection, time to search that in Chinese too!

                        1. re: K K

                          For xi'an guantang baozi (i wonder if the majia qingzhen/china islamic has it...
                          selection in
                 (which is directed from a really interesting page...
                          if you read chinese