You and your namesake hfshen nailed it. What Din Tai Fung, Jia Jia Tang Bao, and a lot of new imitators serve are Nanjing Tang Bao, not Xiao Long Bao. I had my xiao long epiphany in 1992 (April 7, 1992, to be exact) and was a XLB zealot for the next 20 years, but was confused about what different factions considered good xiao long bao until I encountered Shen’s explanation.
True XLB have thicker skins, less soup, more meat and tend to hold their shape better when lifting. They also have a slightly sharper flavor component which I haven’t been able to isolate, but may hve something to do with sesame oil.
Din Tai Fung has spurred the confusion by calling their Nanjing Tang Bao XLB; their most worthy competitor, Jia Jia Tang Bao, is more honest in its naming of the dumplings. Most forthcoming with its nomenclature is the small but well-established chain named Nanjing Tang Bao.
The benchmark for true Xiao Long Bao can be found at the now tourist-swamped Nanxiang Xiaolong Mantou Dian. [Note: Shanghainese people never call them xiao long bao; it’s always xiao long mantou.]
True XLB at Nanxiang Xiaolong Mantou Dian in 1995 (my BIL in background):