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Feb 6, 2013 10:02 PM

XLB in OC?

Where's the best place nowadays? It being dumpling month and all...

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  1. For me, the ones at Lao Dong Beef Noodles on Jeffery are as good as anything in LA. The only ones I like better are the crab and pork ones at J&J.

    I've only tried the pork ones. They also have beef ones.

    Try them both and report back!

    21 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Imma seconding Lao Dong Beef Noodles. Just tried them this week for the first time, and the XLB were terrific.

      1. re: Porthos

        I just noticed this place while leaving the parking lot having gone to S.W. Seafood. I'll have to give it a try if I can talk the wife out of Cantonese for a change.

        1. re: Porthos

          Going to that plaza today for lunch. What else is good at Lao Dong?

          1. re: js76wisco

            Parking is a royal pain.

            Below is my write up of my 2 visits.

            The beef noodle soup is okay. Noodles got better on the second visit. I would probably recommend the brisket in clear broth if you are okay with lighter broths. Otherwise, the standard broth with soy sauce which is also on the lighter side. The cold side dishes seem to be a hit.


            1. re: Porthos

              One of the worst lots.

              Have to reschedule couldn't convince my lunch mates out of Liang's Kitchen. They had their hearts set of the beef roll and dumplings in chili oil. Thanks for the reco.

              1. re: js76wisco

                Is Liang's better than 101 for beef rolls and dumplings?

                1. re: JAB

                  The dumplings are different. We usually get the pan fried pork dumplings at 101 and smaller dumplings in hot chili oil at Liang's. Two totally different versions but both very good.

                  The beef roll at 101 is the classic version and excellent. At Liang's we get the spicy pork roll with jalapenos. The pancake is usually a little crispier at Liang's.

                  The beef noodle soup at Liang's is better with the thick cut noodles.

                  Liang's is more expensive than 101 and they don't have the spicy green onion condiment.

                2. re: js76wisco

                  Had the clear broth NRM again, it's very light to the point it gets lost after eating the XLB in vinegar and ginger.

                  The clear broth is good if you like really really light broths.

                  Otherwise I think most people would like the soy based ones more.

                  Good luck with those unadventurous lunch mates ;-)

              1. re: Porthos

                If the XLBs at Lao Dong aren't the best that I've ever had, they're certainly the best in recent memory. Thanks Porthos!

                1. re: Porthos

                  Lao Dong update. XLB are now soggy, frozen, and broken apart. Sad and quick decline.

                  Beef noodles aren't bad, especially the clear broth. This place will be rendered moot when DTF opens. I can't imagine this place lasting much longer.

                    1. re: JAB

                      It's supposed to open at South Coast Mall, replacing the former Rain Forest Cafe. I thought it was supposed to open this summer, but haven't heard any news yet.

                      1. re: Wonginator

                        DTF is listed in the store directoy at south coast plaza site already. I read another site that said its going to open in August. I hope they still open this year.

                      2. re: JAB

                        Walked by the space this afternoon. Signage only says it's opening this summer and that they're interviewing for help. My guess is opening time is still several weeks away. Since they're taking over both Rainforest Cafe and McDonald's locations, this looks to be a very sizable location. I'm sure they'll need all the space they can get.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          I'm sending out some interns to wait in line when it opens. Don't worry I'm not heartless they'll be allowed to eat with us.

                          1. re: js76wisco

                            If you missed the Eater LA item, it's opening next Monday.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              Thanks. Haven't caught up with Eater today. I'm in SD until Tuesday but will go to DTF for lunch on Wed or Thur and report back on wait times, menu and quality.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                Soft opening events going on now and the weekend. Official open confirmed 8/18.

                                Nice looking space. They are going to crush it.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Do you know how many tables? I assume its pretty large considering the space they're taking over. Did they combine McD and Rain Forest Cafe?

                                  1. re: js76wisco

                                    No clue. Looked like a decent space but counting on it being not enough for the first 6 months.

                    2. If you go to the shopping centers at Jeffrey & Walnut you have Lao Dong Beef, Yu's Kitchen, Liang's, AJ's, Home Town Deli and Chong Qing Mei Wei. Not all all fro XLB per se, I like AJ's for those, but if one place is too busy you have many alternatives, including Sam Woo.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: scottca075

                        The restaurants aren't the problem. The problem is trying to find parking so you can even go to 1 of least the side that houses Lao Dong, 101, Sam Woo, 99 Ranch. Even that pre-school in the corner and illegal bank parking aren't options.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Maybe if you go between 12PM and 1PM, but I was at Home Town Deli last week at 1:30 and had no issues parking.

                          When I go to AJ's I usually try to get there 11:30ish and never have a problem in that center.

                      2. Alright I gave it a shot and to me they were just so-so. The skin was good, but they didn't blow me away taste-wise. Like someone said about the soup, the dumplings just tasted a little light to me. Like they needed to turn up the flavor a notch. But they were a lot better than some other versions I've had around here. Thanks for the rec! Any other places that do a decent version for comparison's sake?

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: BrewNChow

                          Like I said, the only version I like better is the crab and pork ones at J&J in SGV.

                          Which ones do you like better?

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Formosa's. Got them today to make a comparison, and while they LOOK much worse (they look thick, doughy, saggy and generally bad. Like they were defrosted) they taste a lot better!
                            Weekends only.

                            Speaking of crab and pork version, does that exist around here?

                            1. re: BrewNChow

                              You dip them in black vinegar and top with ginger right? I find that with the standard black vinegar and ginger dip, the XLB at Lao Dong are mmm mmm good.

                              As for crab and pork XLB, unfortunately I have not found anything decent in the OC.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Yeah, although Formosa didn't give me ginger which was kinda weird I thought but they did have vinegar. No chili oil either except theirs didn't need it. LD's did...

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Today I got the XLB at Tasty Noodle House and I also felt those were very good, better flavor than Lao Dong, and more importantly, they did have crabmeat XLB on the menu.

                                  They didn't have it, so I asked if they ever actually have it (so often these places list things on their menu that they never actually have.)

                                  They told me that they get their crabmeat in a shipment from Shanghai, and that it would take another month or two to get, but starting in April/May they would have crabmeat XLB and they would have it throughout the summer.

                                  We'll see if that's true, but it's at least a possibility we'll have local crab XLB soon.

                                  1. re: BrewNChow

                                    How is the wrapper? Smooth an thin and a touch chewy or is it the thicker kind like Dean Sin World or 101 Noodle Express?

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      I don't really know, what are some examples of the former? The wrapper wasn't as thick as those places'. But I don't really know how distinct the styles are, so I don't know how much thinner it must get before it crosses over. I will say there wasn't that much soup in them, but I was surprised how little I felt that detracted from them, they're damn good.

                                      1. re: BrewNChow

                                        So I tried the XLB at Tasty Noodle House.

                                        The wrappers here are thicker vs the ones at Lao Dong. It is stronger flavored because they put more soy sauce and sesame oil in their filling. As you noted, not that much juice inside because most of it leaked out onto the steamer. See picture below.

                                        I much prefer the Lao Dong ones. The juice pops through the thin skin of the wrapper when you devour them whole. A perfect bite.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Yikes, those are kind of a mess. I don't think I've ever had that much leakage. Those Shanghai grilled buns they have are great too.

                                          I'm starting to think XLBs are a very individual thing; I retried LD's version and still thought they weren't all that, but that's just me. Apparently in Shanghai the XLBs don't usually have heaps of soup broth in them.

                                          1. re: BrewNChow

                                            Apparently in Shanghai the XLBs don't usually have heaps of soup broth in them
                                            Depends on the version you try. Some do some don't.

                                            The Lao Dong ones have the perfect amount of broth for me. About the same amount as J&J. Not gushing like Joe's Shanghai NYC. The LD ones are best in class for me. The J&J ones being best in the crab/pork class.

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              I've had J&J's crab version and I agree with you 100% on their deliciousness. (you mean Jin Jian or something like that right? same place? Next to Mei Long?)

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  Cool well Tasty Noodle will have the crab version this summer, apparently they get that hairy crab imported from Shanghai and it's a summer only kind of thing. I'll post on here when they have them, maybe they'll be worth another shot!

                                                  1. re: BrewNChow

                                                    Weird since in Shanghai I was told they only do the hairy crab+roe XLB in the fall.


                          2. Went back to both Tasty Noodle House and Lao Dong.

                            At Tasty Noodle House Got the crab meat and pork ones. Pretty sure they are frozen and maybe even commercial bought. Stick with the regular ones if you have to but those are also weak IMO.

                            Lao Dong XLBs have definitely gone downhill. Like Chef Hung, and even Shanghailander Palace seems like they're fresh and high quality the first 9-12 months then go rapidly downhill into the frozen product path. Still like the Lao Dong ones better than the Tasty Noodle House ones but they are now clearly a step down from the SGV ones again.

                            DTF can't open soon enough down here.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Porthos

                              I'm sure glad that I made it to Lao Dong when they were still good. What a disappointment to hear about the downhill alert.