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10 Best XLB In Los Angeles

From ClarissaW

http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

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  1. Agree w/ Clarissa for the most part (although DSW is #1 for me), but did not enjoy my XLB at Emperor Noodles.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chrishei

      "did not enjoy my XLB at Emperor Noodles."

      Same here. I felt that the skin was too "plasticky" and had an almost artificial texture. There was barely any juice inside and the filling was forgettable.

      1. re: chrishei

        What, no 101 Noodle Express love?

        1. re: granadafan

          Love the dumplings at 101 Noodle Express. I'm a bit peeved that the Irvine branch was closed both Friday and Saturday this weekend with only a sign "Closed today" on the doors.

          Having said that, their XLB are just average. Their dumplings are excellent. So is that sparerib noodle soup with hand pulled noodles.

          1. re: Porthos

            I just realized I made the mistake of mixing XLB with dumplings. LOL.

      2. Very recycled stuff. Probably from some CH 2011 thread. I wonder how many of the places in LA serving XLB she went to? Maybe just 10?

        The XLB at MLV are notorious leaky messes. It's telling no picture was taken/used. Overrated even at 7. See yelp photos 22 and 25. Even yelper providing photo 25 recognized the coagulated blood leaking out of them as a sign these are previously frozen.

        I'll bet she didn't try newcomers like Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village or Shanghailander (per Tony C).

        11 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          I'll bet she didn't try newcomers like Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village or Shanghailander
          ==========
          No comment. Scribes need to make a living, whether it be via clicks or otherwise.

          Nan Xiang wasn't mentioned, yet the archaic term of 南京湯包 was. To that, I say: baike is an amazing tool: http://so.baike.com/s/doc/%E5%8D%97%E...

          If customers at 65 branches in 11 countries of DTFs aren't eating 小籠包, I'm unsure what exactly they're consuming.

          1. re: Porthos

            Mei Long Village had been on my no-fly list for a while because of repeated xlb incontinence issues. Dear wife insisted we go a month or two ago - she ordered two orders of xlb (forewarning her about the issue) and they arrived intact. Maybe just lucky?

            Agree with Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village's xlb, but can't get past that Rocky Horror Picture Show version of a Wild West saloon decor.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              The question is, are you willing to gamble and double down at MLV or cash out your good fortune and head over to J&J for those very delicious and very consistent crab and pork ones next?

              1. re: Porthos

                That was one of my plays - driving into SGV for dinner at 1830 during a weekday is a huge ante up to begin with. She had her mind set on MLV. Her other choice was Shanghai No. 1 - the decor kills my appetite - it's just too out of context for me...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  This is so odd.

                  I have never had punctured XLB at MLV. And if I did I would just send them back.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    This started to happen a few years back - I think three visits in a row. The final straw was when we brought one of my brothers-in-law who was visiting from Singapore - land of everything is perfect except the weather. He was not impressed with the xlb's condition. Everything else was enjoyable.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Not punctured but leaking juices from the top in a cooked blood volcanic mess and soaking the XLB from the outside. Again, yelp photos 22 and 25 are representative of what I was getting also.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        So, did you send them back?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          We've talked about this before. Nope. Now I just go to places where this doesn't happen and where they don't have to be sent back :)

                          1. re: Porthos

                            I don't understand why not.

                            Wouldn't you send back a piece of sushi that was improperly plated?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              What's the point of sending back sushi at Hide and asking them to make it the way Mori makes it? You could send it back all you want, it's not happening.

                              That's the way they do XLB.

                              If they could do it better, they would. But they can't. Never had a problem at J&J, SN1, Lao Dong, DTF with mushy XLB so I go to those.

            2. I’m perturbed the article said what DTF serves is actually not "xiao lng bao". That would contradict what I’ve been telling a lot of white people for years. Can an authority please comment on this?

              38 Replies
              1. re: MonsieurKnowItAll

                Probably been getting that from ipse's comments here on CH ;-)

                It's XLB. Ask anyone in Taiwan or Shanghai. Not sure if anyone there makes the distinction she does.

                1. re: Porthos

                  Are you talking shit behind my back again, P?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Naw. Just in plain sight! ;-) Just teasing ya.

                    Gotta wonder where she got that funny idea about DTF though if it wasn't from you...

                    1. re: Porthos

                      I've never said DTF doesn't have XLB.

                      What DTF has are XLB for the people that metrosexuals consider too effete.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      I found her choice for 8th best in the greater L.A. area to be rather ironic...(and amusing) ;-D>

                  2. re: MonsieurKnowItAll

                    I asked a handful of my chinese/taiwanese co workers and none of them knew what 南京湯包 was

                    So unless they, and the shanghainese restaurants I went to in shanghai, are mistaken, these are xlb..

                    1. re: blimpbinge

                      Might be some journalism ploy to increase blog hits:

                      1. Make lists. Everyone likes/hates lists.

                      2. Say something contrarian. Even better if it's in the guise of a little known factoid.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Alternative theory (conspiracists need not apply)

                        Say what you think. Let chips fall where they may.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Deep thoughts by Servorg :-D>

                          As we all know if you're going to attempt to "educate" someone else, it's best to have a reliable source and to double check your "facts".

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Or you can just anoint yourself as an expert and blather on as if it matters...

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Funny how everyone is an expert here isn't it? :-)

                              1. re: Porthos

                                I can't tell if you guys like each other, hate each other, or somewhere in between.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  It's only dangerous when you actually believe it...

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    Or when you are in denial...

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      I believe that means the exact same thing...

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Exactly.

                                        Pot calling the kettle black really.

                                  2. re: Porthos

                                    I'm not an expert, but I play one on TV. :-)

                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                      I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night...so I guess that means... ;-D>

                              2. re: Servorg

                                Is it still conspiracy theory if you were right all along? ;-)

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Does that arm ever get tired from all the patting? ;-D>

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    Nope. Used to it by now. Back gets a bit sore though. ;-)

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Figured that... ;-D>

                            2. re: blimpbinge

                              It should really be 狗不理包子 ... and the reference is wrong in the article anyway.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Just went to Tianjin to try the original 狗不理包子 - Really, really great stuff (which kinda proves my belief that the SGV does NOT have the best Chinese food in the world). But that is for a different thread...

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  It's dumb to write that, much mess believe it.

                                  SGV has really good Chinese food and probably the best in the U.S. but not in N America as a whole and certainly not in the world.

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    The only people that think SGV's Chinese food is the best in the world are people that have never tried Chinese food anywhere else.. (see yelp reviews)

                                    1. re: blimpbinge

                                      Well, there's no accounting for diverse taste and there are some strange, stray tastes out there. I once wrote a simple article on how Chinese food in suburban Chinatowns (e.g., SGV) is better than the Chinese food in core Chinatowns (e.g., L.A. Chinatown) and got an argument on that point from somebody who disagreed.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        Did they provide any examples or where they just "going with their gut"?

                                        It's a no brainer for LA and NYC. Maybe SF is a wash if you combine outer Richmond with Chinatown vs Koi Palace, Milbrae, Milpitas, and Cupertino? That one at least is close.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Chinese woman totally disagreed with my premise. She said how wonderful the Cantonese food was in the core Chinatowns she had eaten at all over the U.S. Different strokes.

                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                            Maybe to the woman, cheap = good regardless of quality degradation, so if it is cheaper than surburban Chinatown, it won't matter to her. You've heard the Cantonese term Peng Leng Jeng....Peng = cheap, Leng = quality/beautiful, Jeng = correctness and in this case approval. And look, Peng comes first! :-o That says it all.

                              2. re: MonsieurKnowItAll

                                Technically....."XLB" (xiao long bao) literally translates to "little dragon dumpling" and usually refers to a small bun with meat filling that does NOT contain soup. The bun is usually made with a flour containing yeast and is thus fluffier and thicker. It's fluffy, porous quality also makes it unable to hold soup properly.

                                "Xiao Long TANG bao" (little dragon SOUP dumpling) or just "tang bao" (soup dumpling) on the other hand, is made using a dough that does NOT contain yeast and therefore can be quite thin and delicate, while still having the ability to hold in soup. The soup is a result of incorporating a gelatinous broth that is jello-like when cold, into the meat filling.

                                But people just say XLB and refer to the kind with soup all the time.

                                Hope this helps! =)

                                1. re: may14

                                  Actually, I think in this case "long" does not refer to dragon but to the bamboo basket steamers that they are steamed in:

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    It's the same character so I could see how someone would be confused.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Yeah you are so right. The characters sound the same but look slightly different 籠 (steamer) vs 龍 (dragon). sorry for the false info!

                                  2. re: may14

                                    Spoken Mandarin can be a tad confusing to non-speakers - Case in point:
                                    Tang (1st tone) = soup
                                    Tang (2nd tone) = candy
                                    Tang (3rd tone) = to lie down
                                    Tang (4th tone) = hot

                                    Although to further drive home the lesson, my favorite of all time is still the poem entitled:

                                    《施氏食獅史》 (Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den)

                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion-Eat...

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      That poem is so Gangnam Style (or should I say Harlem Shake) awesome.

                                      1. re: K K

                                        是.

                                    2. re: may14

                                      that distinction isn't always made

                                  3. For those of us who are less sophisticated, please use language that we can all understand. Are you talking about what we who are less knowledgeable about Chinese cuisine might know as "soup dumplings"?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      yes

                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        Soup dumpling is an east coast term seldom used in California, except by people who used to live in New York.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          Sorry, but not being especially familiar with Chinese cuisine i would have not had a clue what you were all talking about had I not just read an article in the latest Food & Wine magazine entitled "DIY Soup Dumplings"! Not once did the 3 page article refer to them as xlb...so perhaps that is indeed a west coast abreviation.

                                          Is there anywhere in OC where I might sample good xlb/soup dumplings?

                                          1. re: josephnl

                                            Yes, I never heard the term "soup dumpling" before I visited New York. My guess is that the term soup dumpling isn't used much out here because, at least to purists, XLB are not dumplings. (See prior food fights on the LA board on this subject.) On the other hand, in New York, soup dumplings had garnered a good following outside of the Chinese community, so having crossed over, the "dumpling" term was used more liberally.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              My guess is that the term soup dumpling isn't used much out here because, at least to purists, XLB are not dumplings.

                                              _________________

                                              Nor are they "soup".

                                              Maybe in this case two wrongs do make a right.

                                            2. re: josephnl

                                              Is there anywhere in OC where I might sample good xlb/soup dumplings?
                                              ===========================
                                              My current favorite is at Lao Dong Beef Noodles in the plaza on Jeffery and Walnut in Irvine. As good as any version up in the SGV if not better than most.

                                              They have a light clear beef noodle soup with brisket which I usually get in addition to an order of pork XLB. They have a beef XLB which I have not yet tried. The steamed shau mai are also very good. The standard/traditional version is pork.

                                              Since it is your first time, you have to delicately pick up the XLB by the top, put it in your spoon, nibble away the top, suck a little bit of the juice, then consume the rest in 1 bite. Once they cool down I just pop the entire XLB in my mouth. But that's because I'm a glutton.

                                              Once you get the hang of picking them up without popping them, try dipping them in black vinegar and topping with a few slivers of ginger that they provide before placing in the spoon and consuming as previously described. The black vinegar are in containers sitting on the table (looks like soy sauce). If your chopstick skills are very good you can try dipping them into the vinegar ginger mix from the get go but this increases the chance of the thin skin breaking and you losing all the delicious juice.

                                              Looking forward to your report! :)

                                            3. re: Chandavkl

                                              great comment, Chandavkl

                                          2. I herby nominate this thread for the Thread Drift Hall of Fame.

                                            27 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Too partially atone for my massive contributions to the "Tokyo Drift" of this thread I'll just ask about Clarissa's CV when it comes to assessing XLB. Is she the "real deal" and if she is (certainly looks like she has both the breadth and depth of eating experience so that the expert brigade can't dismiss her out of hand for being "untutored" in the way of the bao) then my original pointing out of her selection of ROC as deserving a place on this list comes down to Porthos' guesstimate that she is just trying to stir the pot against my guess that she is writing what she thinks/believes and doesn't get caught up in the SGV bias thing. So, which is it?

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                No list is ever generated without an eye towards piquing interest and/or discussion. In some ways, it is the very reason people make lists.

                                                That's not to say she doesn't know what she's talking about, nor is it to say that she does.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  "That's not to say she doesn't know what she's talking about, nor is it to say that she does."

                                                  Talk about keeping it "chow-centric"...worst waffling ever! ;-D>

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    No, not waffling.

                                                    I just don't care enough to try and figure whether Clarissa is or is not qualified.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Best example was Clarissa's Top 50 Chinese restaurants in the US for CNN. I doubt if she even believed her own list, but without the geographic diversity it never would have been published.

                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      Re-reading the old thread I started

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701198

                                                      it is entirely possible that similarly to Shen Jian Bao, the insides were never meant to be stuffed with soup or gush out like a Peter North explosion, but just oozing with natural juices from the pork filling. The addition of aspic/gelatinzed broth (in both XLB and SJB) must have come at a much later date, of evolving the receipe. Now as to what they were called, that's debatable, because you can have a similar product across China and it is named something else in different regions or restaurants. Xiaolong Mantou was one nomenclature, but Nanjing or Xi'an might call it guan tang bao (a bao stuffed with soup). Tang bao might be the giant bao that you drink with a boba milk tea straw, or it's just the NY "soup dumpling" term which refers to Joe's Shanghai.

                                                      All I can say is that those who really know their Shen Jian Bao, ie the old timers who live(d) in Shanghai, will likely argue that Yang's is not authentic or traditional, but yet it is now a golden standard that the young ones reflect and the object of affection of food tourists. The equivalent of the word authentic to Shanghainese (or Chinese) would be 正宗, though translates more into orthodox, but nonetheless has very specific meaning to SJB (ie the old timer Shanghainese)and probably to XLB as well. As food evolves, only those purists will truly seek out knowledge of what it used to be, and those outside the know won't give two smells and be happy with what the media and top 10 lists tell them.

                                                      1. re: K K

                                                        Good point KK about the 灌湯包 - guàn tāng bāo. The version found in Henan is supposed to ooze from the juices of the filling only.

                                                         
                                                        1. re: K K

                                                          I wasn't familiar with this name (Peter North).

                                                          I now so, so regret looking up 'Peter North' on the workplace computer. (Luckily, I'm the boss.)

                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                            Hahahaha. I laughed at the Peter North explosion reference. Don't judge me.

                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                      We'll never know if she was intentionally trying to stir the pot. Especially with that bit of FYI regarding DTF dumplings. A bit of FYI that no one has heard of or supported yet.

                                                      The list doesn't include some newcomers which are putting out better versions than the older more established ones. Some of the older ones are just bad even by yelper standards.

                                                      For example, thi's top 10 ramen places in LA was very informative since it didn't regurgitate the usual suspects and deliberately omitted the ones past their prime. The list had many new places that just opened and that I have never heard of. It shows that thi dug a bit deeper and did his homework and field research. It was useful.

                                                      In contrast, this is a usual suspects list that really didn't show much effort or chow sleuthing.

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        Actually it's a pretty good mix of new and old places. Indeed, #2 and #3 are new restaurants. Of course with the way restaurants turn over, anything that's been around for more than a year probably seems old.

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          I had never heard that tidbit about the xlb as well. Perhaps she didn't either and she just plagiarized..,or at least did not cite her source:
                                                          travel.cnn.com/shanghai/eat/shanghais-best-xiaolongbao-039902 (in the Fu Chun section)

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            Actually, I got the whole XLB technicality tidbit during my stay in Shanghai. They get really specific with their baos in the Jiangsu province-- down to how many you are served.

                                                            1. re: ClarissaW

                                                              Thanks for clearing that up.

                                                              Which XLB shops in Shanghai made this distinction if you don't mind me asking? I think DTF Shanghai still says XLB on their menu right?

                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                De Xing Guan (see the cover photo of the LA Weekly article). The skin is thicker.

                                                                But again, technicality isn't even a big deal. DTF XLBs have become the international standard. It's just a interesting tidbit from a historical point of view I'd thought I'd throw in there.

                                                                1. re: ClarissaW

                                                                  I think what you're trying to say, and you did say it, is that the more recent thin skinned tang bao and for that matter, the monster guan tang bao are subsets of the traditional, thicker skinned XLB. However, they would both still be classified as a type of XLB. It's not like they are 3 totally different food items. They all fall under the broad category of XLB.

                                                                  Thus the protests with regards to the statement "...the Taiwanese chain isn't serving a XLB at all." They are, just a specialized subset of XLB.

                                                                  FWIW, when I was in Shanghai, I was told only to drink the soup from the guan tang bao. You don't actually eat any of the filling or the wrapper. I'm talking about the single monster sized ones with a straw in them.

                                                                  Hope you get to try the versions at Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village, Shanghailander, and Lao Dong Beef Noodles when you get the chance. I have no doubt the MLV ones would not make the list if you did. :-)

                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                    I know people who rank MLV #1, way ahead of DTF. Obviously a matter of personal choice, over which as they say, reasonable persons may differ.

                                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                      I know people who rank MLV #1, way ahead of DTF.
                                                                      ==========================
                                                                      Me too. Ipse. :-)

                                                                    2. re: Porthos

                                                                      "They are, just a specialized subset of XLB."

                                                                      Or they could be what XLB have evolved into today

                                                                      1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                        But the thicker version with less soup still exists as well as thin versions larger than the DTF version and with way more soup.

                                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                                        Here is the Bourdain Shanghai Youtube link where he is at Nanxiang Mantou (felt like a horrible tourist trap when I visited).

                                                                        Part about guan tang bao and not actually eating it starts at 6:10.

                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D860Hd...

                                                                  2. re: ClarissaW

                                                                    which place(s) went through the history of and differences between them with you?

                                                                    will check it out during my next trip

                                                                    1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                      (response above)

                                                                      Here's the listing: http://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/eat/de...

                                                                      1. re: ClarissaW

                                                                        Thank you miss!

                                                                        I think i posted it the same time you replied :x

                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                  seriously? we're requiring cvs now?

                                                                  jeepers, man, it's just chinese food. you ain't auditioning someone to take out your appendix.

                                                                  1. re: linus

                                                                    Like I said.

                                                                    Pot calling the kettle black that one.

                                                                    1. re: linus

                                                                      Actually an appendectomy ain't that hard. How to cook it afterwards, now that's opening a can of vermiform organs.