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Aug 30, 2013 11:15 AM

SGV: Current state of XLB?

With word of a decline at DSW since the matriarch went to China, I'm wondering what the current state of xiao long bao in the SGV is. I've duly noted Shanghai Dumpling House, Shanghai No. 1 and Shanghailander (wow, that's a lot of Shanghai-ness), but...any others beyond the usual suspects? Sugar & Spice received some brief raves, but quickly changed hands and is now gone.

Full disclosure, I'm looking at *possibly* doing a piece (key word: possibly) and want to check here to see if anyone has any suggestions for under the radar places for very good XLB.

CH will be credited for any place that makes it that I've managed to overlook. Oh, and please save any vigorous disagreements over DTF, J&J, WXJ and MLV to the comments section if published :D

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  1. Love DSW but their XLB was a weakness in the menu IMO.

    With the recent slippage in Shanghailander and also Lao Dong Beef Noodles here in OC, it might go back to Shanghai No. 1 (assuming no slippage since my last visit).

    The crab and pork ones at J&J have been incredibly consistent and delicious over the years though. That may be my current and longtime favorite.

    4 Replies
      1. re: JAB

        A little. Wrapper is not as slick as before and a bit spongier. The filling was overwhelmingly anise or 5 spice when I had it on Tuesday.

        They still have someone making it or on display to appear like they are making it to order.

      2. re: Porthos

        I loved the XLB at DSW. Perhaps the "healthier" chicken aspic gave a less porkulent taste, but they were always my choice when buying a frozen bagfull to steam up at home.

        Not to derail the thread, but what are your favorite items at DSW?

        1. re: JThur01

          The filling was fine, the spongy thick wrapper wasn't my favorite.

          At DSW my favorites were the crab shell pastries (daikon and onion), the dumplings (chives one good, cabbage one bland), the Shanghainese style zongzi, and oddly enough the beef noodle soup even though the noodles weren't chewy and actually too soft for my tastes. Can't explain it. Just got it 4/5 visits.

      3. Like Porthos, I've always enjoyed the J&J XLB.

        Shanghai No. 1 does shenjianbao well, but their XLB is quite pedestrian.

        Why do a piece on the XLB now? That's so 2011. :-)

        7 Replies
        1. re: J.L.

          sad but true.

          "Why do a piece on the XLB now? That's so 2011. :-)"

          1. re: ns1

            Haha! I'd peg it around 2007, actually. When was the XLB zeitgeist, after all? I recall chasing them in my waxing Chowhound days, in early to mid-2000s.

            Mr Taster

          2. re: J.L.

            That's an idea. Do a SJB list instead!

            SN1 is a runaway winner but 2-10 is wide open! ;-)

            1. re: Porthos

              SJB is coming, but I stick to top tier over top 10* :-)

              *with the exception of the neighborhood crawl.

            2. re: J.L.

              TonyC had it being so 2004 in 2009 :) Why now? Apparently, white people never get tired of XLB, dumplings, etc., much in the same manner they apparently never tire of lists. smh.

              Another TonyC quote: "Scribes gotta eat", sums it up.

              1. re: J.L.

                My friends and I think J&J makes the best XLB in town. Wondering what some of you think about Yue Lai, opened a few months ago by the family who also owns Kuan's Restaurant? They don't have the intricate folds found in typical XLB, but I thought they meat filling was well seasoned and they did produce quite a bit of broth.

                Did anyone care for Wang Xing Ji's XLBx?

                1. re: TripleAxel

                  personally not crazy about the idea of sugar in a XLB, but the non sugar ones were ok.

              2. Have you tried Hui Tou Xiang? Might be worth a visit if you haven't. (I know Tony C hates it, so that may influence you - one way or the other).

                4 Replies
                1. re: Servorg

                  a lot of chinese won't resist the buy 5 get one free offer. i did that with only one lunch companion and regretted it later.

                  1. re: barryc

                    At Yue LaI OR Kuan, you buy 1 order of XLBs and get 1 order free. No need to buy 5 there.

                    1. re: TripleAxel

                      let me clarify - it's five of anything of the entree menu and the sixth item is free.

                  2. re: Servorg

                    XLB is not their strong suit. I suspect they might be steamed from frozen given the gumminess of the dough especially the very tip. Filling runs a bit on the sweeter side with a pronounced peanut or sesame oil flavor.

                    That being said I have a lot of love for some of their other items such as their name sake hui tou, their sweet kimchi is addictive as hell, staff has always been great and friendly and I never have to worry about getting a table. Why anyone would go next door still bewilders me.

                    1. I just had some pork xlb this week at Yue Lai which were very good, as was the hot and sour soup that came with it. Plus, you get two orders for the price of one at $6.95.