Tag Archives: XLB

XLB at Din Tai Fung in Sydney

We are always on the hunt for the best Xiao Long Bao (XLB), Shanghainese soup dumplings. Much like pizza, everyone has an opinion on the best XLBoutside of Sydeney. When we were going to Sydney we heard that it had a phenomenal regional Chinese food scene, with many amazing XLB options. One of the names that rose to the top on our searches was Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung is a chain from Taiwan that has dozens of locations globally, including Asia, Europe, the US and Australia. Despite our best efforts, we did not make it to Din Tai Fung when we visited LA so were very excited to try it in Sydney. There are 10 locations across Sydney and Melbourne, and we ended up visiting a location near the popular center city wharfs, in the Gateway Food Court (Shop G20-G21 Gateway, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney).

Other locations of Din Tai Fung in Sydeny are proper restaurants, but we went for convenience of location. The Gateway food court is huge, and definitely more upscale than the name may imply. We saw lots of tasty-looking restaurant options as we wound our way to the back and found Din Tai Fung, a somewhat understated wooden kiosk. The array of menu options at this location of Din Tai Fung were somewhat overwhelming: appetizers, many dumpling permutations, soups, more substantial mains, fried rice and even desserts. Naturally, we we were there for the XLB. To order at this location (and perhaps others), you mark on a sheet of paper what you would like to order, pay at the counter, get a buzzer, and the order is soon delivered to your table. In a city as expensive as Sydney, the XLB is a relatively good deal:  4 dumplings in a steamer basket for $6 AUD. We placed our order and grabbed the buzzer, and within a few minutes our order was ready.

The moment of truth arrived: and the dumplings were amazing! The key to the best XLB are a thin skin and a savory broth. On both counts, the Din Tai Fung XLB delivered, the dumpling skin was very thin and not doughy or chewy, with a rich, savory pork meatball and a generous amount of soup both filling. We liked them so much that we had to order twice as much as we initially thought. In XLB the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Din Tai Fung excelled. Yes, these were the best XLB we ever had. The excellence of the XLB made us so curious to try versions in China, and may have ruined XLB for us in America altogether. Plus, can you beat this mascot?

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor: old school dim sum in NYC

Nom Wah Tea Parlour
13 Doyers St.
New York, NY

China flagNom Wah doesn’t look like any other restaurant we have been to. Think the crazy ambiance of a 1950s diner meets corner pizza restaurant meets mah jongg parlor. The little street Nom Wah is on seems to be out of another era, and was given an especially surreal touch by a fashion-student photo shoot taking place with a model dressed in shiny spandex and vinyl while propped up against the shuttered entrance of a neighboring store. Only in NYC. We met our friends there for a Friday night dinner, and the joint was hopping. Nom Wah claims to be one of the first dim sum places in NYC, and it certainly has remained popular over the years.

Nom Wah

You begin by marking your selections on a paper menu with a full range of dim sum options. Then the waiter fills you order, with plates coming out as they come out of the kitchen (which is pretty fast). There is no cart here, which means all of the food is made to order, and hasn’t been wallowing on wheels for the better part of the day. One other major plus is that there is something for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, but the menu itself is actually not as overwhelming as it is at some Dim Sum places, or at places with NO menu.Nom Wah Here’s what we ordered for  people:

  • XLB (Shanghainese soup dumplings – above) – Try to eat these in just one bite!
  • Scallion pancakes – These were deliciously crispy with a tasty hoisin sauce.
  • Steamed BBQ pork bun (char siu bao) – Whoa, check out the size of these (below)! An order gets you two gigantic softball-sized bao filled with a great sticky sweet/sour pork filling and acramelized onions. Definitely give these a try.
  • Pan Fried Noodles – Thin egg noodles stir fried with scallions, onions, bean sprouts and soy sauce.
  • Veggie dumplings – Gluten free in a tapioca wrapper!
  • Pork dumplings – Pork and chives in a wheat wrapper – who doesn’t like pan-fried things?
  • Vegetarian Rice Roll – Mushrooms wrapped in a thin rice noodle wrapper with soy sauce. These are a favorite at NW, and though we thought they were slightly rubbery, they provided a good, more unique options for veggie eaters.

We were also excited to see a nice and reasonably priced tea selection. We got a Shou Mei White tea and a Jasmine green tea. We were not sure how much to order, but we need not have worried. The food was more than enough to feed 5 with ease, and more to spare. The scallion pancakes, bao and dumplings were standouts. There was so much good food… it is hard to believe that it only set is back about $10 apiece! Can you believe it? Who said there was nowhere cheap to eat in NYC?

Nom Wah

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Xiao Long Bao for Chinese New Year

chinaHappy New Year! Monday, Jan 23rd marks the start of the Lunar year – and the Chinese year of the Dragon. In Salvador, there actually are a few Chinese restaurants, so maybe we will be able to partake (we even saw a Macanese restaurant – cool!). One Chinese food we are craving in honor of the new year is Xiao Long Bao (XLB). XLB are dumplings from Eastern China, which are filled with gelatin (which then melts to liquid through steaming), earning them the English nickname of soup dumplings. While we are admitted XLB novices, XLB have quite a cult following among foodies, and there are countless blog posts reviewing and critiquing dumpling offerings in America and abroad. Eating XLB is also an art unto itself, since the liquid filling of the XLB has the potential for explosion!

Soup Dumplings at Bund Shanghai in San Francisco

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