Xiao Long Bao/ Tang Bao discussion [SFB]

Those actually look thicker than what I’m accustomed to.

What CKShen posted is pretty much correct. Xiao Long Tang Bao is the more ‘accurate’ term for the Din Tai Fung style ‘bao’ that we commonly see now in Shanghai restaurants.

XLB as it is known in other parts of China refer to the more doughy version, and sized somewhere between a XLTB and a true northern pork bao.

Here’s the explanation I posted “awhile” ago on CH (then saved to my blog): http://eat.tanspace.com/2003/11/07/soup-dumplings/

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True Shanghai-style xiao long bao as made famous at the Nanxiang Xiao Long Mantou Dian in Shanghai’s old city beginning in the early years of the 20th Century are no bigger at the base than Din Tai Fung’s “XLB” and do in fact have “soup” generated from pork aspic, just less of it. This has been the case at least since 1992 when I first started visiting Shanghai and has always been so, according to my inlaws. The confusion comes from some establishments (in Shanghai, as well as Din Tai Fung, applying the nomenclature incorrectly to Nanjing Tang Bao.

Outside Shanghai, even as close to Shanghai as Wuxi, they do get bigger (and still can be very soupy, as in Wuxi’s case). There is a walkaway dim sum place in Chinatown here that makes soup-less dumplings/baozi that are halfway between XLB and gou bu li in size and calls them “xiao long bao” but it’s a Cantonese place and the application of the name makes no more sense (from a northern China perspective) than how the term "shui jiao"is applied in Cantonese restaurants.

Maybe we can send Christopher St. Cavish out with his calipers to settle any arguments about xiao long bao vs. Najing tang bao dumpling sizes.

I have had those dumplings in Wuxi, I find them delicious. I don’t know what they’re called, as I was on business, and they got Papa Johns for all the other westerners for lunch and they sent around the corner for Wuxi Dumplings for me every day. My GF didn’t like them ( different trip ), said they were too sweet. Would love to find those dumplings closer to home.

And, wow, the XLB index of shanghai.

My Dumplings in Milpitas Square is a contender for closest Bay Area XLB to Din Tai Fung. They’re small, tightly wrapped with plenty of soup, have a translucent skin, and the white meatball is solid with some give. Excellent construction with no danger of popping- I count 16 pleats. The pleating portion is a tad rigid. Soup has body and a balanced flavor. $8 for 8.

For a XLB crawl, these would be a good counterpoint to the XLB at Shanghai Dumpling in Cupertino, which have a stronger flavored broth and larger size.

They have SJB on the menu, but weren’t serving them when I visited.


I enjoyed the XLB I ordered from Panda Dumpling in San Carlos just before Xmas. They had very even, though not particularly thin (or thick) skins, and not too much soup, leading me to believe they may have been frozen, They tasted nicely porky, with some seasoning that was not easily identifiable, and though I planned to sample just a few after a long day with other eating priorities, I ended up eating nearly the whole batch before they cooled off. I prefer them to any of the King/dom of Noodle/dumpling outposts, as they didn’t have the impenetrably dense topknot with relatively thick skins. I also ordered the pan fried buns, which I took to be sheng jian bao Sheng jian bao in the Bay Area, but were slightly different.

ok to be sheng jian bao, but were slightly different, Sheng jian bao in the Bay Area

I saw some nice dumplings from Panda yesterday. A co-worker had some “yesterday’s dumplings” for lunch. He complained about the lack of soup compared to NY soup dumplings, but said the taste was good.

Was the lady in her 50’s in the kitchen at the time? She’s always there making XLB when I eat there and then steaming them immediately for new orders. So I have always like their freshness. Hopefully that’s not changing.

I am going to repost to this thread “the man who spent a year studying XLB”. It’s already been posted here but it needs a little bump…

In particular, he mentions the “golden ratio” of soup / skin / filling, and the effects of time to the ratio.


I have a new dumpling crush… it’s a place that was mentioned a few times on CH, positively, but I didn’t happen to remember.

Bamboo Garden, MV. No online menu. The chinese name is something like Bamboo Evergreen Garden, but it’s close. I can’t find the chinese characters to paste in.

They have excellent XLB. Great soup, great thin skins, pleats, good tasting meat ( not too much ginger, but enough ). The SJB is also excellent. Thick crispy crust, the right thick crust. Right in my back yard.

I had a chinese friend order, she was a bit shocked that I knew of the place, but it is Michelin Bib. I found the place clean and reasonable, although it’s certainly mom and pop. Glass window just like Panda Dumpling. Superior to Su Hong PA.


It’s 竹林轩 . More like “Bamboo Pavilion.”

Sounds right. Anyway, the dumplings are aces and - for those of us north of Sunnyvale and south of Millbrea, I guarantee it’s worth a stop.

yes. that place is one of my favorites. live too far away to go now, but probably better than any of the contenders in cupertino were i’m closer to now. but yeah, they nail many of hte aspects of xlb perfectly.

What are the contenders in Cupertino now? How’s their quality?

Rumor suggests that a chef from Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou (南翔小笼馒头) in Shanghai near the City God Temple is now making Shanghai dim sum, including XLB, at just opened I-Shanghai Delight 阿拉上海 in Fremont.

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Let’s see if the pork xiaolong bao come 16 to the basket :wink:

It was at the original Nanxiang that I had my xiao long bao epiphany (April 7, 1992, to be exact). If I don’t make it to Shanghai, I’ll have to go to Fremont for my 25th XLB anniversary.

The pic below was actually from a 1995 trip.


I counted 8 steamers x 16 = 128 XLBs. You must be really hungry…!

Which floor?

Its $8.95/8 for pork, and $11.25/8 for crab. Pretty good looking. The lines will probably dissipate by April 7…

Even if the rumor about the chef’s credentials is true, I am not sure if they can get similar ingredients to recreate similar taste of the XLBs in Shanghai.

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My first visit to 南翔 in Shanghai was around '94 and have been back twice over the years - I’ve never found it that great when compared to JJTB or others. I’ve eaten at several levels - from the ground floor take out, from the 2nd floor open pavilion area ( or was that just outdoor seating w / window counter?) and from 3rd or 4th floor seated table.

My overall recollection is that from the ground floor, the execution was lacking - thick skins, little soup, but damn cheap and plenty. At the seated tables on the upper floors, execution was markedly improved. Looking at the '95 photo from @Souperman, you can spot shoddy pleat work which is exactly what I remember.

That’s not to take away from his memory of the experience but just to point out that 南翔 has been a launching pad for this sort of journey for likely many people given its location and disposition in a major tourist area in Shanghai.

I’ve looked over the posts in this thread, and I’m struck by similarities to how discussions of proper chili or pizza play out in the USA. Anyway, I wish I could myself ANY kind of soup dumpling near me. It doesn’t surprise me that they’re not to be found in northern Indiana, but I don’t even know where to find them in Chicago, which has a big Chinatown area.

Perhaps they’re regionally specific enough in China and also labor-intensive enough that the mainly Cantonese and Szechuan and Hunan type places here can’t be bothered to make them. I’m pretty sure that a large majority of Americans don’t even know that XLB exist.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2