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Aug 19, 2013 02:29 PM

Favorite Xiao Long Bao ( soup dumplings) in Queens?

There were very old threads on this, so I started a new one. I've had xian long bao in many places, some good some bad. Today I had excellent , if not the best at Kung Fun Xian Long Bao Restaurant on Main St.
They outer dough was perfect , plenty of soup inside and the meat was really good. I didn't have the seafood soup dumplings, but they did look real good.
The place is Shanghainese, and had a Shanghai dim sum menu. They sticky rice shumai was good, as was the map po tofu. I'm curious if anyone ever tried the xian long bao here, if so, how do they compare to other places? and what place has the best. Note: i hope no one even mentions Joe's Shanghai.

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    1. re: scoopG

      Thanks Scoop, yep that's the place Peter Cruce wrote about.The soup dumplings are excellent there.

      1. re: scoopG

        I haven't found an xlb better than Kung Fu in Manhattan or Queens.
        I go their just about weekly and they are very consistent.
        I like many of their dishes. However, I was disappointed in Kung Fu's rice cake with seafood. The rice cakes were great, the taste was great but why would they add "fake crabmeat"(surimi). It just seems so inferior an ingredient. They would be better off leaving it out.

      2. i always have liked nan xiang, in fact its the only place ive liked, but i have not tried kung fun. how does it compare to nan xiang?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Lau

          I'll try Nan Xiang and see how the XLB are. Kung Fu has the soy milk and many drinks. I don't think their menu is as extensive as Nan Xiang. Kung Fu is a tiny place.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            nan xiang has soy bean milk as well (shanghainese / taiwanese breakfast items), but their menu is not that big. definitely try some of the cold apps they are quite good (see my post)

          2. re: Lau

            I like Kung Fu quite a bit - it's my go-to place for XLB these days. The place is not huge but I wouldn't call it tiny at all, and in fact Kung Fu has quite a large menu - not only what's on the takeout menu, but an internal sheet with other specialties on it.

            Love their tong po pork.

              1. re: Peter Cuce

                I've been loving Kung Fu, I've been going there a lot lately. Usually all Chinese clientele. I go during lunch hours.
                That whole area I like. I go to Taiwan Cafe, Roast House, something degree, has Chinese writing and a temperature degree symbol on corner. Also Lake Pavillion, but that place is always so crowded.
                I had soup dumplings at Red Farm last night, and the soup dumplings at Kung Fu I like much more than RF. Also a much better value. The dough I thought was comparable but Kung Fu had better soup and more substantial and tastier filling.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  I actually don't like the soup dumplings at RedFarm at all. I think they're inferior to the version Joe Ng made at Chinatown Brasserie.

                  I don't know if they've been modified since my last visit because the preparation has varied in my visits, but in one visit he was using saffron and it was a completely incongruous flavor and did not complement the dish at all. It was horrible.

            1. I love Kung Fu and go there regularly for lunch. However, I find their soup dumplings less satisfying than at places like nan xiang and happy beef on prince street. The wrapping is well-done--thin and sufficiently firm. I find the soup in the dumplings to be insufficiently rich and quiet watery. After eating soup dumplings, your lips should become sticky from the gelatin or at least that's what I want after eating a good soup dumpling. You don't get that at Kung Fu. My favorite things at Kung Fu are the cold dishes that they display up front. The mock chicken is especially good.

              1. Why disparage Joe's Shanghai? The food is good and the soup dumplings are tasty.The out the door lines speak for its popularity.It is rarely cited on this board as a Flushing destination, but I enjoy it. One other place for soup dumplings is Mekong in the mall at 156 St and Northern Blvd. It has three of my favorite dishes : seafood pho, summer rolls and soup dumplings. Dining nirvana to me.

                30 Replies
                1. re: budcar

                  sorry but Joe's Shanghai's XLB are terrible, the skins are thick and gummy and the insides are heavy and greasy. Joe's lives off a reputation built a long time ago when NYers had no idea what XLB were and Joe's was the first guy on the block. This is not meant to be condescending, but you really need to have some good XLB to know exactly how bad Joe's is

                  1. re: Lau

                    I have to agree that I wouldn't recommend Joe's Shanghai, the last few times I'd been there was before Nan Xiang opened. The XLB were ok, but not much care was put into them. That's my general issue with the place, not much care is put into any of the food. In the dishes, some of the vegetables were brown/wilted. The sauces were gloppy and too sweet. The staff is brusque and the place looked worse for wear even though my last visit was probably 10 years ago.

                    Joe's Shanghai is like Flushing's Taverna Kyclades. I have no idea why people queue up and wait for food there. Popularity sometimes just does not mean the food is good.

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      Are you guys saying that the people who line up to eat at Joe's Shanghai where the favorite dish is these dumplings don't know they are getting inferior stuff? Pookipichu, you say were were last there over ten years ago and base your judgment on that long ago visit. I, by no means, think this restaurant is among Flushing's best, but it is decent.

                      1. re: budcar

                        Maybe it's better now? I wouldn't rule that out since I haven't been in a long time. I'm not challenging your experience, just that I didn't have a good experience and I personally wouldn't recommend it. There are a couple of places that I like even less that are also popular, Taverna Kyclades as I mentioned, Jackson Diner and Junior's. All of them are very popular but I don't think the food is good at any of them.

                        1. re: Pookipichu

                          I agree very much with the not being able to understand the long lines at places with "not so good" food. I've eaten at Kyclades several times but never lined up, however, I hear there are long lines. I think the choices of good Greek food is limited or non existent even in Astoria. Telly's is on same level as Kyclades. Ignanti is horrible. Uncle George's closed i think. They all are bad.
                          Magnolia Bakery is the biggest joke, I threw the Red Velvet cup cake in the garbage after one bite and waited for 20 minutes to get it.
                          Totto Ramen , I just refuse to wait in line, i hear it's good , but who waits on line for ramen?
                          Anyway, Mielimato has me thinking about my opinions on soup dumplings. I do not like Joe's, I don't like Red Farm, so on that we agree. But I do like Kung Fu's and now I'm reading that my criteria is wrong. That the soup should leave stickiness on your lips. I don't recall ever getting a stickiness on my lips from any soup dumplings. I'm not sure I would like that. Normally I say, we all have different tastes, and that's what makes us unique. But if sticky lips is a standard for soup dumplings, i'll have to readjust my opinion on Xian Long Bao.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            That the soup should leave stickiness on your lips. I don't recall ever getting a stickiness on my lips from any soup dumplings. I'm not sure I would like that. Normally I say, we all have different tastes, and that's what makes us unique. But if sticky lips is a standard for soup dumplings, i'll have to readjust my opinion on Xian Long Bao.
                            foodwhisperer - can you explain this "law" or rule? Never heard of it.

                            1. re: scoopG

                              Scoop,,,,, i was quoting what Mielimato said to me. When i said I liked the soup dumplings at Kung Fu, Mielimato said, they were not good there. Because they did not leave the stickiness that soup dumplings were supposed to leave. I never heard of that. I don't even think I would like that. But Mielimoto sounded like some authority on the subject and I thought maybe my taste is all wrong, But I don't like Joe's shanghai, nor red farm's,, but i like Kung Fu dumpling very much. And I hope this stickiness I'm supposed to be looking for is not good information.
                              Regarding Kung Fu, Mielimoto said:"...I find their soup dumplings less satisfying than at places like nan xiang and happy beef on prince street. The wrapping is well-done--thin and sufficiently firm. I find the soup in the dumplings to be insufficiently rich and quiet watery. After eating soup dumplings, your lips should become sticky from the gelatin or at least that's what I want after eating a good soup dumpling. You don't get that at Kung Fu."

                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                No, don't get me wrong, the soup dumplings at Kung Fu and Nan Xiang are the best ones that I have had so far in NYC. I agree with your assessment that the wrapping at KF is excellent--thin and firm. But between the two places, I find the filling to be less rich and a bit more watery at KF than at NX. Perhaps the statement that stickiness is a criteria is too strong. I agree that good food shouldn't leave your mouth sticky and that's not necessarily a quality that one should look for. It was more a comment on the richness of the broth. Either way, I'd happily eat soup dumplings at both places anytime before Joe's.

                                BTW, has anyone tried the soup dumplings at Happy Beef (on Prince street between Sentosa and Spicy and Tasty)? It is a small nondescript place that specializes in Taiwanese food. I go there regularly for the breakfast. They have excellent soy milk breakfast dishes like bean curd, bean curd flower, sou bing, stick rice rolls, etc. They have surprisingly good soup dumplings which I think are on par with the best. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I like the place a lot and find the ladies there friendly. Somethings on the menu should NOT be ordered, however. For example, these items should be avoided--oyster pancakes and scallion pancakes. But the beef noodle soups is always a popular item. I love their stinky tofu, which I think it is the best I've had in NYC. They have a nice "small dishes" menu which include good versions of shredded pork with celery, tofu sheet with edamame and pickled greens, water spinach with shredded beef and sacha (sp?). Check the place out and let me know what you think!

                                1. re: mielimato

                                  Happy Beef used to be King 5 Noodle? I've been to the latter for Taiwanese breakfast.

                                  Has anyone tried the xiaolongbao at 456 on Mott St recently? They're of the smaller variety and I think they've gotten better since they opened, along w the rest of the food there.

                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                    Not that recent, but I have been a big fan of their XLB since smallh first noticed them...


                                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                                      Yes I think that's right. I can't get the name straight for that place. There Taiwanese breakfast is great. The XLB was a surprise but I put it up there as a contender for one of he best.

                                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                                        I tried them at 456 and several other dishes. Many years ago I used to frequent 456 and was happy to see them back in action. The soup dumplings were good when I visited a couple of months ago.

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          We ate there 8 or 9 moths ago. I do like 456, and the Shanghai-style sea cucumber we ordered was absolutely perfect. A couple who sat at our round table ordered 小籠包. Admittedly, they were not particularly small and their wooden consistency suggested popularity at dinner time. My personal, uneducated opinion has been to never recommend 小籠包 at this restaurant and instead, to focus on the 蘇菜 seafood specialties of their chef.

                                          I believe Kung Fu is probably the best all around nowadays, mostly because I prefer their crab 小籠包 taste to that of the Diverse stall in the Flushing Mall.

                                          It's very clean tasting for the meat filling, and stronger and sweeter for crab & pork. The broth is not overbearing, and that's a plus IMHO; the skins are are as good as it gets.

                                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                                      There is quite a bit of collagen in xiao long bao, and that is probably what leaves a stickiness to your lips. Its not something I would look for. I'm pretty sure you can't even achieve the soups existence without it since you need something solid at fridge temp but liquid while hot.

                                      1. re: ace52387

                                        In going back to Kung Fu today for some xiao long bao, I will start by saying they were delicious. The pork dumplings were better than the crabmeat and pork in my opinion.
                                        However, this time I was looking for the "stickiness" I never even thought about. I think I know what mielmoto meant. It's not really a stickiness but just a feeling you get on your tongue. Not on your lips. Just a bit of a glutinous feel. Hard to explain, but it is not unpleasant at all. Anyway, the soup dumplings here are fantastic. Someone mentioned a place up the the street that was good, but I couldn't find any place that had xiao long bao within 2 blocks of kung fu

                                    3. re: scoopG

                                      I think "stickiness" is not the right word but I understand what foodwhisperer is saying. For me, it's not "stickiness" it's mouth coating. The gelatin has a rich mouth feel that lightly coats the mouth much like butter or oil but less oily. It is a textural sensation that is part of what makes xiao long bao so satisfying and addictive. The high gelatin content is very pleasing. Same principle behind the stock for many Chinese "two week" soups.

                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                        There are two types of gelatin. One is the natural aspic that is created when making hearty banquet stocks. I believe that Chinese restaurants go through too much stock to generate the amount of aspic laden stock needed to solidify the dollops in the huge numbers of XLB's they make every day so they will also use plain gelatin.

                                        1. re: scoopG

                                          You misread my post, I'm talking about the properties of gelatin, dishes that also use gelatin for similar effect. I am not and did not refer to what kind of gelatin they use or how they get it.

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            I am just thinking about the possible differences between mouth feel and the qualities of stickiness in the different broth mixtures.

                                    4. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Don't throw Totto Ramen into the discussion! It's actually pretty good. And you don't always have to wait.

                                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                                        If Totto Ramen has no line when I am near there, i will surely try it. I've watched the chef/owner make soba from scratch and have eaten that. I was quite impressed.

                                  2. re: budcar

                                    yes that is exactly what im saying...people still line up at magnolia's for the same reason

                                    1. re: budcar

                                      Absolutely. The longest lines in San Francisco Chinatown by far are to be found at House of Nanking. Of the 125 or so Chinese restaurants in San Francisco Chinatown, House of Nanking ranks in the bottom 10. (Check out San Francisco board for discussions.) However, due to hype and ignorance they have the biggest following.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        oh yah that place is quite famous, i ate there once a long time ago, i think when i was in high school...its in all sorts of tourist guides etc

                                    2. re: Pookipichu

                                      Hey, stick to the topic! I fully agree about Joe's but lay off Kyclades, as I still love the place. If you wish, you can use Grimaldi's pizza as the parallel instead. :-)

                                      1. re: Steve R

                                        How could I forget Grimaldi's? I still see huge lines there... people must really like polly-o cheese and toppings from a can.

                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                          To each his own. You got to wonder how many of these people are out of towners who rely on guides like Fodor's or Frommers for recs. Grimaldis and Joe Shanghai may be the most authentic kinds of foods they have ever had access to. For people who are not in "the know" and have the luxury of living in a place like NYC where the options are endless, these places offer a friendly and accessible introduction to new types of foods. Good for them for trying something adventurous and not lining up at Johnny Rockets and Pizzeria Uno. Before being introduced to Spanish cuisine, I use to make paella with OLIVES. I think my husband, who is from Barcelona, barfed in his mouth when I told him. As long as my favorite places stay line-free, I'm a happy camper.

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            I heard Grimaldi's moved and couldn't get a permit for a brick oven . Not sure if that's true or not.
                                            I am no fan of Grimaldi's or the lines. However, One good thing about Polly-O is that it stretches great.

                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                              It moved 2 doors down to the corner (much bigger place) and, however they managed to wrangle it, have an oven as good as previously. In its place, the original Grimaldi's owners re-opened as Juliana's, with the original oven. I have not been to Grimaldi's since their move, but the lines are now in front of their new place and another line (smaller) is in front of Juliana's, where I have been and liked.

                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                My understanding is it is the "coal fired" not the "brick oven" which you can't get permitted for now a days.

                                    3. I tried Shanghai Cuisine 33 a couple of nights ago - it's located a block over and across the street from Kung Fu, but still in Queensborough Hill. The crab/pork xiaolongbao were the crabbiest I've had in New York, with significant crab flavor and meat evident, and fairly thin wrappers. Unfortunately the soup, while having traces of the gelatin as mentioned by @mielimato, was otherwise watery and not very flavorful. The pork version strangely had much thicker wrappers and similar unflavorful soup.
                                      Their crunchy fried fish had too much sauce and was a fairly muddy lake fish (they call it Yellow Fish). I enjoyed the noodle soup that comes with a side of pork prepared similarly to tonkatsu on the side, not sure what it was called. I haven't had it before.
                                      Probably my favorite thing was the gratis bowl of peanuts served with a sweet, fermented sauce. I've never had anything quite like it.