Location: 2049 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 235-2089
Date: January 24, 2014
Cuisine: Taiwanese Chinese
Rating: Awesome XLB
Among lovers of Chinese food the Xia Long Bao, or XLB for short, is a particular favorite. These little thin skinned dumplings stuffed with (usually) pork and a hot broth are quite delicious. So when a friend told me than one of the managers from Din Tai Fung (an SGV Taiwanese XLB palace) had opened a place on the Westside I waited all of about 24 hours before trying it.
Sleek space is nothing to write home about, but that’s not why we came.
Here is the menu. The top left corner in the red are all variants on the XLB.
Dumplings need their sauces. Here soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, and ginger are available at all times.
Scallion pancake with ginger soy dipping sauce. Fried and tasty.
Beef roll. Cucumbers, green onions & cilantro. These monster burritos were filled with sweet BBQ beef and quite delicious.
Garlic dungeness crab fried rice. garlic, egg, & green onions. This was a fabulous fried rice. There were real chunks of sweet dungeness crab in here, making it a bit like certain rice dishes I would get in Japan.
Shrimp and pork spicy dumplings. I expected a more traditional wonton in chili oil (the Schezuan classic often called “numb taste wonton.”) These were more like potstickers with sirachi. Not my favorite dish of the day, although certainly fine.
Pan-fried dumplings, Shrimp and pork. These are the more fried, less spicy version of above. They were superior, pretty much classed fried potstickers.
Crispy balls. I can’t even remember what was inside.
Steamed bun. Same pork center, thicker coating.
Lobster & pork XLB. An interesting blend of the traditional savory pork with a bit of lobster sweetness.
Lobster, crab & fish XLB. Much more seafoody, with a sweet and briny taste.
Classic pork XLB. There is a reason these are classic. All the XLB were scrumptious, but these in particular are amazing.
You load one of these babies on a spoon and add some sauce (usually through a small hole). This helps cool down the boiling broth inside. Then pop in your mouth for an explosion of flavor. Don’t ever bite them, you’ll just make a mess — rookie mistake.
Pepper beef. Cubed filet mignon, red onions & bell peppers. The beef was tasty, but this is a pretty straight up, almost American Chinese style dish.
Pork chop. Great with the fried rice.
Shrimp and peppers. Light shrimp with shisito peppers.
Chinese mustard greens sautéed with ginger. I think they mean steamed with ginger, because these were close to just steamed greens. They are what they are, but being a fat is flavor man, they didn’t do it for me.
Baby bok choy. Sauteed with garlic & shitake mushrooms. Better than the Chinese greens for sure, these had some actual flavor.
Overall, the XLB (all 3) and the fried rice made this meal. I want to try some of the other things on the menu, and next time I will, but my brother and I polished off all this just the two of us — that’s 15 dumplings each! I’d be perfectly happy to come in myself and order some rice and a steamer (or two) of XLB. Yum yum!
The menu is a little smaller than Din Tai Fung. The dumplings were just as good, but I miss a few of the other dishes at DTF: like the noodles, hot & sour, and chili wontons — but Roc is about 40 minutes closer, right in my hood, so I’ll be going a lot!
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or, for my index of Chinese Food, here.