In the mood for brothiness, I wandered to recently opened Xiang Yian Xiao Long Bao, a Shanghainese-owned place in San Leandro tonight.
Spoon size calibration notwithstanding, I can’t recall another XLB in the Bay Area with so much broth the soup spoon overflowed. The broth is great, savory and not sweet, and the meatball is brown and succulent. Even though one appears to have leaked, all had lots of soup. The skins are odd and unpleasant– – they have a gummy texture all around and a speckled appearance visible in the photos. Not exactly sure what that means.
The F24, Fresh and Salted Pork with Bamboo Shoot Soup (Yan Du Xian), is the only Shanghai style soup they have and it’s buried in the menu. That might be for the better. I’ve had Yan Du Xian a few times before and the salt, from salted pork, has been a defining feature along with fresh pork, bamboo shoots, and a knots of tofu skin. I don’t know what was going on here tonight-- it wasn’t at all salty. The server insisted that there was only kind of pork in the dish, salted pork, but I couldn’t taste any. There was pork belly, with custardy fat layer and tender to dry meat, and a few pinkish pieces of pork that had a funky taste to them but didn’t taste salty or like salted pork I’ve had before— anyone have insights? The cubes of bamboo (is that winter bamboo?) were sometimes tough and lent their flavor to the pork broth. There was also wood ear mushrooms and Shanghai bok choy.
The menu is kind of odd— there’s a section of “Shanghai Specialties” that starts with, and is speckled with Sichuan items.