Location: 395 Santa Monica Pl, Ste 308, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 755-6220
Date: April 1, 2011
Cuisine: Modern Dim sum
Rating: Ordered lighter this time for a delicious and reasonable meal.
Another gorgeous 78 degree LA day, with that perfect mix of warm and ocean moisture in the air. So we headed back to Xino, one of the new promenade restaurants with a huge roof deck and somewhat modernized Dim Sum. For my first review, click here. Our first time we had a few issues all of which we managed to avoid here. We had ordered too much food, as the individual dishes, despite being dirt cheap, are fairly large. There’s also a lot of fried stuff on the menu, so if you want a bit lighter, order carefully. Still, it’s all tasty.
Xino has a really nice deck. You can see the couch-style booths in the background too.
Again we ordered straight from the extremely reasonable Dim Sum menu. This is all Hong Kong style small plates. There are no carts, but it’s made to order. This time we made sure to specify in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that they needed to bring out the dishes slowly (last time they hit us with 11-12 simultaneously!). They brought them one at a time today and it was no problem.
Notice also that the fried section is much larger than the steamed section, and that the specialties are also mostly fried. They’re good, but you have to know what you’re getting. We tried to order only a couple fried things.
Condiments. Chinese mustard, hot sauce, and soy sauce behind.
“Shanghai Dumpling, Pork, Ginger, garlic, Vinegar & Ginger.” These are basically the classic soup dumplings, but very good examples of the type, and nicely served with the vinegar in the little cups so that they don’t break apart on the steamer. Wow!
“Crispy Chili Calamari, Jalapeno Vinaigrette.” These were seriously tasty. The fry was heavy, but deliciously and a bit sweet, as was the jalapeno sauce. In some ways almost like a desert, but yummy.
“Salt & Pepper Soft Shelled Crab, fresh chili, spring onion, toasted garlic.” This is Xino’s take on the classic (chinese) lightly friend shrimp. The traditional version has a bit less fry, but requires you to peel the shell to eat them. These have been pre-shelled which is nice. Certainly tasty, and good with both the mustard and the jalapeno sauce above.
“Shrimp & Chives potstickers, shrimp bamboo shoots, chives.” These were nice, a bit lighter than the classic pork potsticker (which they also make).
“Pork Siu Mai, Pork, Shrimp, Shitake, carrots, Egg Wrap.” Another typical dim sum dish, executed very well.
“Seafood Spinach Dumpling, shrimp, spinach, bamboo shoots, rice wrap.” These slightly green fellows are a little different. There was a lot of shrimp in there, but it did taste slightly fishy. Not bad, but the pairing with the spinach also was just slightly funny. Personally, I think these would be awesome with basil instead, or even a bit of pesto — but that’s modern me.
“Baked Pork Buns, sweet pork in glazed flaky baked bun.” These were a slightly new take on the classic that really worked. The sweet red BBQ pork inside was very typical, but what was different was the crispy light AND SWEET outer shell. It reminded me of a Beard Papa cookie shell!
This is a photo of the pastry cookie shell from Beard Papa, it wasn’t at Xino, but it was awfully similar to the pork bun! Still, the pork bun really worked. Sweet on sweet, with a nice interplay of crunch/flaky with the gooey meat.
“Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice, ‘Lo Mai Gai’ egg, chinese sausage, dried shrimp.”
Examine the goodies inside. Good, although the more traditional Palace (review here) has a very slightly tastier version.
Not only is the food good, but look at the price! $47 (with tax) for all that food! I think Xino might be even cheaper than the traditional Dim Sum in the area!