REMINDER: Blog Party #3 is being planned! Join the fun!
Destination: Mei Long Village (301 W Valley Blvd., San Gabriel).
Operatives: Lilcee, tater, Wan, and yours truly
Mission: Introduce Wan to the deliciousness that are xiao long bao.
Background: Xiao long bao ("XLB") are scrumptious little pockets of juicy goodness. The approximate translation is "little basket buns," as the large mouthful-sized dumplings are traditionally steamed in bamboo steamers, although nowadays many restaurants use metal steamers.
XLB originated in Shanghai and began as snack food (hence their continuing popularity at modern-day dim sum), but they are now also regularly eaten as full meals. XLB are sometimes referred to as "soup dumplings" by non-Asians because of the wonderful abundance of savory meaty juice that bursts in your mouth when you puncture the delicate skin of an XLB.
But don't call them soup dumplings. You'll sound like a know-nothing. Call them xiao long bao. It's really not that hard to do. Just do it.
Pork XLB and accompanying vinegar and bamboo. Juicy. Delicate. Yum. We got two steamers of these. Our second steamer was better than the first.
Crab and pork XLB. Not quite as good as the pork. A bit fishy.
Vegetable bao. These are the traditional types of bao most Westerners envision when they hear the word. (In reality, XLB are more like dumplings than bao.) These were the duds of the meal. The outside was decently fluffy, but the flavor of the filling was sorely lacking. Bland. Uninteresting. Don't bother with these. Just get more XLB.
Potstickers. Tasty, but nothing to write home about. Again, just get more XLB.
Beard Papa's in the same strip mall. Convenience at its finest.
Beard Papa's that you don't already know? The magical combination of sweet luscious vanilla bean cream and fresh flaky pastry continues to delight.
It seems that Wan enjoyed her foray into the world of XLB. Mission accomplished!