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Apr 24, 2013 12:15 PM

Non-standard variations of Xiao Long Bao

It's difficult enough to find an acceptable pork or crab Xiao Long Bao, but we're seeing a few interesting XLB variations around the Bay Area. For a food so popular you can buy it frozen at Ranch 99, it's nice to see some creativity. I know of the following:

My China has truffle XLB which cost $18. Reports so far suggest it's not justifiably better than the standard issue:

Benu has a lobster coral XLB and used to have foie gras XLB.

American Bao Bar has a red curry chicken XLB that sounds interesting. Anyone had it?

Any other sightings? Any vegetarian versions?

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  1. MY China's is chinese truffle, so it doesn't really have a strong flavor.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hungree

      There's a positive report of a truffle XLB at Din Tai Fung in Taipei,

      Looking at DTF's website, these aren't made in their North America location, but the ones in their Asia locations are made from truffles imported from France.

      1. re: hyperbowler

        The truffle XLB at DTF in TPE was sublime! Worth the journey for that alone.

        1. re: Thomas Nash

          Would be awesome to have a DTF in the Bay Area. But there is some variation in the quality of the different restaurants. We went to a couple of DTF in Taipei last year and they were excellent. The truffle XLB was delicious and they had something that was like a combination XLB and Shu mai that was amazing. This year went to the DTF in Singapore. It was just ok. The quality of the Dim sum was not nearly as good as the Taipe branches. I have heard that the branch in Hong Kong is really good (it has to be to compete with all the good Dim sum in HK) but that the LA branch is just ok.

    2. Xiao Long Bao Kitchen in South San Francisco has a ridiculously sized "XL XLB" :

        1. Talk about multi-flavoured xiao long baos - you should have visited Paradise Dynasty, the Singapore chain which also has outlets in KL during your recent visit to SE Asia - its XLB come in 8 flavours: original, ginseng, foie gras, black truffle, cheese, crab roe, garlic and Sichuanese

          8 Replies
          1. re: klyeoh

            LOL, your description of Paradise Dynasty's XLB in Kuala Lumpur made me think the bamboom steamer would taste better than 7/8 of their novelty XLB :-)


            1. re: hyperbowler

              Would you believe it - my mum organised a Sunday family lunch a few weeks ago (in Singapore) and she chose ... Paradise Dynasty @ ION Orchard. And we ended up with the multi-coloured XLB. I didn't touch a single one of them.

              BTW, have you ever tried the Central Asian (Kazakh/Uzbek) 'manti' or Georgian 'khinkali' - those are forerunners of Chinese XLB. The Central Asian nomadic tribes were the ones who introduced these food stuffs (XLB and 'lamian'/hand-pulled noodles) to Tang Dynasty China in the 7th century AD.

              Kazakh 'manti':

              Georgian 'khinkali':

              1. re: klyeoh

                Huh, I didn't realize that history. Very interesting. Those Georgian pictures look incredible, btw.

                They've not yet crossed my path yet, but they might soon---Baltica, in San Mateo, announced the intention to bring 'khinkali' to their menu a few months ago. I don't know if that ever materialized.


                1. re: hyperbowler

                  Baltica sounded interesting - offering Eastern European and Filipino?! Talk about East meets Far East!

                  I'd not encountered the meat-filled 'belyashi' (Baltica's menu seems to have misspelt it as 'belayshi') in Almaty, but it's somewhat similar to the 'boortsog' (either with potato filling, or else no filling) which my Uzbek colleagues kept offering me at tea-time. The same is called 'baurtsag' by my local Kazakh colleagues, whereas 'belyashi' is a Tajik term - those Central Asians have pretty different languages, so they'd converse in Russian with each other. I liked the donut-link texture and taste of the 'bootsorg' though:

                  My first taste of khinkali was actually in Tamada Georgian restaurant, London. I was brought there by London-based Hound, limster (an old friend of Melanie Wong).

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    That name "Tamada" must elicit a few chuckles.

                    FWIW, I think Andrew Zimmern is going to do a show from Kazakhstan. He was Instagramming up a storm from there not long ago.

                    1. re: soupçon

                      Heh-heh - well, Tamada (i.e. Toastmaster) is a very important personage in a traditional Georgian dinner party:

              1. re: vincentlo

                Great observation, Vincent! And it's not even Cantonese...

            2. I wouldn't want to eat it every day, but one of the tastiest alternative XLB versions I've had was the egg yolk xiao long bao served at Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai.

              2 Replies
              1. re: soupçon

                Wow, does that ever look good. Great picture, too, Soupçon.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  Going on my list of things to try when I visit SH in 10 days.