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Nov 11, 2013 10:23 AM

soup dumplings

just returned from the east coast where soup dumplings reign....
where in SF, are THE BEST soup dumplings.....i'm in withdrawal

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    1. What happened to the long-running introductory / FAQ topic for this Bay Area board? Explaining frequently-used shorthand like XLB and FL? I recall it being posted as a "sticky" topic, yet now I don't even see a link.

      1 Reply
      1. re: eatzalot

        The FAQ's still around. Probably a mistake that it's no longer sticky.

      2. My favorite ones are the ones at Koi Palace. They are served in little tin cups. Always soupy. Very flavorful and satisfying.

        17 Replies
        1. re: Ridge

          Little tin cups? Not in a steamer basket? I've not been to KP. Are you just supposed to "shoot" them? Just can't picture that.

          1. re: c oliver

            They come in a tin cup placed in a steamer basket. Koi Palace calls them Shanghai Style Juicy Pork Dumplings (they also have one with crab roe).

            1. re: c oliver

              They can be very hot, they can be bigger than a mouthful

              Eat them from a spoon

              1. re: Alan408

                I pick them up from the steamer with chopsticks, dip in sauce, hold over spoon and take a bite. Sometime poke a hole in to cool off. I'm just trying to imagine how one eats them out of the little tin cup.

              2. re: c oliver

                At "Xiao Long Bao Restaurant" on Clement (cheapest place in town for XLB) they also use individual tin cups.

                1. re: soupçon

                  Thanks for the photo. But how does one eat it? Same as usual with chopsticks?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Yeah, with chopsticks to pick it up out of the cup and you can either use the cup or a spoon to catch the soup that spills out.

                    I actually like the cup idea because it helps contain any soup that escapes if the dumpling rips while you pick it up (which it does if you let it sit long enough to cool down...). Works well for take out, as suggested in the photo!

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I do chopsticks on bao, dip, bring to lips with cup to catch soup the spoon in this image.

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Exactly what I do. And thanks, bobabear for the explanation. I was having a hard time picturing.

                  2. re: c oliver

                    M.Y. China, in which Koi Palace is a partner, serves XLB in individual "tiaogeng" spoons. The best there is the wild boar XLB, IMHO. UNfortunately, like Yank Sing (and Koi Palace?) they use the WRONG vinegar,


                    1. re: soupçon

                      Great photo. IMO however that presentation seems a bit too precious. But I understand that M. Y. China is going for a different audience than places in Chinatown and the Richmond.

                      1. re: soupçon

                        At Koi palace they use the correct vinegar. In Hong Kong and Taipei the XLB I have had was always served with a rich brown sherry-like vinegar. Some places in the US serve a one-dimensional red vinegar. But Koi palace uses brown vinegar.

                    2. re: Ridge

                      thanks, but when I went there the dough was too thick, and the dumplings didn't have much soup...

                      1. re: bayatote

                        Like most xiaolong bao eaters in the U.S. you are confused between true Shanghai style xiao long bao and Nanjing style tang bao pushed by the likes of Din Tai Fung and Jia Jia Tang Bao:

                        " 'Fu Chun is the closest you can get nowadays to an authentic xiaolongbao,' explains food critic Shen Hongfei. 'What most shops sell these days are not xiaolongbao, but Nanjing tangbao [Nanjing soup dumplings] marketed as xiaolongbao. These are the soup-filled dumplings with very thin skin, like the kind you find at Jia Jia Tang Bao or Din Tai Fung.'

                        Restaurant consultant and chef Anthony Zhao explains how to distinguish between real-deal xiaolongbao and the Nanjing tangbao import: 'In a tangbao, the dumpling will sag between your chopsticks because of the soup. For a Shanghainese xiaolongbao, the filling should be like one big meatball with a bit of soup. The skin should be a bit thicker than tangbao, but not as thick as in shengjian [pan-fried dumpling].'"


                        1. re: soupçon

                          Thanks for that. Does one find the "authentic" XLB in the us?

                          1. re: soupçon

                            Thanks for the clarification. That's a much better summary than the mishmash I tried to get through when I asked about this earlier this year on the Asia board:

                            Question 1: It's funny that guidebooks, and even the Asia board, seem to direct people to places in Shanghai that serve Nanjing tangbao rather than xiaolongbao. Is that a locals preference too?

                            Question 2: I've eaten at most of the Shanghainese places in the Bay Area (and some in NYC like Joe's Shanghai), and I don't think the sag factor jumped out at me until eating at Din Tai Fung. Does anyplace have Nanjing tangbao in the Bay Area? The only sag in recent memory has been from Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae. No place has the Giant Tangbao which seem to be China's equivalent to "soup in a breadbowl."

                            Question 3: While we're discussing this, note that Sheng Jian Bao have evolved from being a pan-fried bun with a little soup inside to having one to two spoonfuls. This article frames it as an innovation of Xiao Yang Lipeng, but I recall a regional variation being brought up at one point too.
                   No reports of the 1-2 spoonful soupy kind in the Bay Area, right?

                            1. re: soupçon

                              Are you sure you mean Nanjing tangbao -- to mean that this style of dumpling comes from Nanjing, not Shanghai?

                              Or do you mean Nanxiang -- which is an area in Shanghai's Jiading district where this specific form of dumpling is assumed to have been invented in the 19th century?

                              I thought xiaolongbao is really a form of tangbao, and that tangbao in Nanjing would more commonly refer to a larger bun where the soup is drunk with a straw.

                              I have seen that linked article quoted across the Internet a lot, but I think it's quite confusing. There are clearly lots of shops in Shanghai, that cater to locals, that sell the version with thinner skins.

                        2. I don't know where on the east coast you've been, but in New York the only decent XLB I've had were at the unilkely M Shanghai Bistro in Brooklyn. In the Bay Area, try Shanghai House and Bund Shanghai in SF Shanghai Dumpling Shop in San Mateo. For haute XLB, the wild boar XLB at M.Y. China aren't bad.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: soupçon

                            Joe's Shanghai, and Shanghai Deluxe Cafe, as well as the M Shanghai Bistro in Brooklyn

                              1. re: bayatote

                                A number of discussions on the NYC board regarding Joe's Shanghai being unlike anything in Shanghai, and thus being a ( delicious ) variant --- but SF dumplings should be compared to Shanghai if you care about "authentic". I can attest to this truth - have sampled both Joe's Shanghai and various places in Shanghai proper.

                                In my neck of the woods, I like Little Shanghai in San Mateo.

                                I am always looking for Shen Zhen Bao, possibly mis-spelled, the juicy pan-friend dumplings (canonical example is Yang's in recently and sadly moved Dumpling Alley in Shanghai). I have not settled on a favorite Shen Zhen Bao in the bay area, it's rarer than it should be. Best recent example was in San Gabriel Valley.

                                1. re: bayatote

                                  KUNG FU XLB are pretty good ... thin wrappers and flavorful soup. A couple of them collapsed when being picked up, but other than that, those are the best I've had in NYC (an better than Shanghai Bund, and some of the cheaper places in the Richmond/Sunset).

                                  I have not gone to any high end XLB places in NYC, comparable to YANK SING.

                                  My friends said they could takes the difference between the PORK and the CRAB+PORK but they pretty much tasted the same to me (at KF-XLB).

                                  (Parenthetically, the RAVA DOSA I had at the GANESH TEMPLE CANTEER near KF-XLB is the best Dosa I have had in the United States. The masala/potato filling which was served on the side was good, but not great)

                                  1. re: bayatote

                                    Unless Joe's Shanghai's XLB have improved since the mid-90s, they are among the most wretched attempts at xiao long bao I have ever seen. I don't think I've tried Shanghai Deluxe, but a place called Yeah Shanghai had the best XLB I could find in Manhattan. That Nanxiang place (however they spell it) in Flushing had the second best city-wide (to M Shanghai) when I tired it.

                                  2. re: soupçon

                                    during Dungeness season, about to begin, of the two variations of xiao long bao at Bund Shanghai, the one to try is the crab and pork.

                                  3. s this what you mean by soup dumplings reign?
                                    "Taking the traditional Chinese soup dumpling and giving it a French twist that's not the addition of a beret, Masaharu Morimoto's whisky lounge Bisutoro has filled these tender, steamed dumplings with French onion soup (studded with caramelized onions) in a thin bath of broth, and topped with panko-fried maitake mushrooms and kabocha (that's winter squash) purée. That's right -- the soup is IN THE DUMPLING.."