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XLB Soup Dumplings

Have never had a XLB dumpling, but live alone in the Raleigh area where we've just had a new/old restaurant that offers them. I love the thought of them and can't wait to try them. I work long hours and have recently relocated here - my question is ... Can you order and take them out to eat home? I live only a few minutes and didn't really know, wouldn't want to offend the chef, etc... So could I order them "to-go"?

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  1. No, time and temp is critical. They are served HOT and you want to eat them that way. It's not a matter of offending but rather you don't want to eat anything other than hot, right out of the steamer basker. IMneverHO :)

    1. XLBs are best eaten right out of the kitchen, out of the bamboo steamer, as C Oliver said. Of course if the resto is about to close by the time you get there, then you'd have no choice but to take them out. How about eating them in the car ? [grin]


      1. I will ask my restaurant owner friend. I can imagine that you can order the uncooked XLB to go, and then steam them at home, but I will check to see what she really thinks.

        1 Reply
        1. One problem with getting XLB to go......they may break when being transferred from the steamer to the container.....and you would lose all the soup in the dumpling.

          1 Reply
          1. re: fourunder

            Well, yes, that could also happen from the steamer to the spoon but probably FAR more likely from the steamer to the container and then to the spoon.

          2. Yes, of course you can.

            But, maybe I'm missing something ... why can't you just eat them in the restaurant?

            1. No reason that I couldn't eat them at the restaurant other than I work 10 hour days and eating alone after a long day doesn't really appeal to me. Now having delicious dumplings while shlumping on my couch, watching my Red Sox play in the World Series, with a drink in hand and in my sweats - calls to me. Not very chowhoundish I know, but lately it's all about easy, convenient and delicious. Those dumplings sound wonderful, but I think they might end up on my sometime soon list instead of tomorrow night for dinner. Thanks everyone!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Lovesmychow

                Just buy them to-go. Don't over think it.

                Plus, XLB aren't all that to begin with.

                1. re: Lovesmychow

                  It is fine. I would definitely buy them "uncooked". Bring them home, and put them in the refrigerators, and steam them up for your World Series game. Have fun.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    There *might* be some Asian/Chinese stores in town that make frozen dim sums, or even the restaurant you plan to get your XLBs at (very unlikely they make all their XLBs fresh by order, they must have some frozen batches). Now, steaming them at home will not likely yield the exact same goodness result you see in restaurants, but may still be satisfactory if you're at least there to eat 'em hot and fresh out of the steamer.

                    And if you're really onto the whole XLB-at-home thing, go buy yerself a good two-tiered bamboo steamer. It's worth the effort:


                2. I'd recommend trying them at the restaurant first. If you like them, ask the restaurant if you can buy them frozen. They are easier to handle, and you won't need to worry about crushing them. I'm sure they'd be more than willing to sell some to you.

                  They must be steamed. When you steam them, put something between them and the surface of the plate/dish/steamer that you'll be using to avoid sticking. I've always used Napa Valley cabbage for that purpose.

                  They are often eaten with a vinegar/ginger sauce.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    It's actually called "nappa cabbage", nappa in Japanese means the leaves of any vegetable.

                    It has nothing to do with Napa Valley.

                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      I took an Asian dumpling class back in the spring from Andrea Nguyen. She said Chinese wouldn't use cabbage as that's a food, not to be wasted. She suggested parchment paper which I switched to.

                      It never occurred to me that XLB could be frozen. I'll have to check my Asian grocery and see if they have. Besides the 'soup,' the wrapper needs to be soooo thin that I wouldn't think they'd survive freezing. But I'd love to be proven wrong about that.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        We actually ate the cabbage. Parchment paper is more convenient because it's flatter. I've purchased frozen XLB from a number of restaurants. Many restaurants probably have frozen ones because it's too time consuming to make them from scratch on demand. Also, frozen ones don't go bad.

                        1. re: raytamsgv

                          Just don't eat the parchment paper ;-)

                          When I steam dim sum at home I use napa cabbage too. If that's not available, romaine lettuce works too. And I do eat it afterward, to the chagrin of my wife, hehe.

                          C Oliver ..... I'd rec buying frozen XLBs (or any dim sum items) from a restaurant than from the supermarket (whose varieties tend to be factory-made ones with more sodium, MSG and fat. Restaurant (or special frozen dim sum stores) will have better quality ingredients and better value for what you pay. Dunno which city you're in, of course you can only choose from the options available to you.

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            Unfortunately dim sum is just about the only thing NOT available here (Reno/Lake Tahoe). That's why I've learned to make some.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Just perused your local Chinese joints (via Urbanspoon). I see two Taiwanese restos. Sometimes they can have decent XLBs. Just don't buy XLBs from restos whose owners/cooks aren't Northern Chinese or Shanghainese in origin.

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                Thanks for that. 101Taiwanese is a place we love but they don't have them. Taiwan Restaurant is one I hadn't heard of. Considering its location -'burbs - I'm not hopeful but will check it out. Always one of the first things we go in search for in cities with good Asian populations.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Well you'd be busy XLB-ing if/when you come to Vancouver :-D

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    Haven't been to YVR in five or six years. Did hit Din Tai Fung in SEA recently. Though they get mixed reports, I thought they were the very best I've ever had.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      For your reference on your next visit :-)


                                      (Lin's is no longer in the top 5 spot, as Richmond now hosts a dozen or more Shanghainese/Taiwanese restos that make superlative XLBs):


                    2. There used to be a place that had halal XLB near to my house when I lived in Dubai. They were amazing. However, I made the mistake of ordering them for take away once. What happened was that the bao wrapper absorbed all of the liquid so when I ate it there was no magic to it, it just tasted like a luke warm dumpling with a soggy wrapper.

                      I learned recently that I had been eating them wrong at that time, too. I saw on a show that you are supposed to pierce the fresh dumpling in your Chinese soup spoon and bite the oozing dumpling while you slurp the broth. I would just pop them in my mouth and I enjoyed the texture that way even though they were piping hot. They were just so amazing. But no. Take away or even letting them sit on the table for too long alters them too much to be enjoyable.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        I eat 'em by putting it in my soupspoon, then carefully bite the "knot" on top, then sucking the soup juice out first. Then I dab my chopsticks with some soy/sesame mix (don't like vinegar) and dab that onto the dumpling before eating the rest in a mouthful.

                      2. Probably too late for you this time, but this information may be useful for you next time.

                        I visited a Shanghainese restaurant and spoked to the owner. She said that she often sells Xiao Long Bao for takes-out and usually she sells them cooked/steamed. However, she also sells them uncooked. Because her shop is famous for Xiao Long Bao, the turn-around is very quick, so there is no "frozen" Xiao Long Bao. The uncooked ones are merely refrigerated. There is never a real need to freeze.

                        I bought two uncooked boxes of Xiao Long Bao (photo)