Xiao long bao are pleated Shanghai dumplings filled with pork meat and a juicy broth that have sparked quests and queues in US Chinatowns.
Steamed dumplings are comfort food enough, but filled with a little burst of soup, their soothe factor is sensational. seriouseats explains the appeal of XLB in their hunt for New York’s best here.
XLB were invented in the late 19th/early 20th century near Shanghai by a steam bun vendor looking to differentiate among a swarm of similar stalls.
Travel website AFAR recalls a search for the perfect XLB here. The author first samples them at Din Tai Fung, a restaurant chain started in Taiwan by Shanghai émigrés.
Endorsed by the likes of Ken Hom and Anthony Bourdain, Din Tai Fung has been partly responsible for the cult obsessiveness around XLB (there are now nearly 50 branches; our closest is Sydney).
And there are semantic issues over whether XLB are really ‘dumplings’ – this article on seriouseats lines up the relatives and considers the arguments.
Where to find xiao long bao in Auckland
First stop should be Jolin Shanghai Restaurant, 248 Dominion Road (09) 631 5575
Signs on arrival are promising: sacks of high-gluten flour stacked up in the corridor and a kitchen viewable from the dining room. With a respectable 15-minute wait for dumplings on a quiet Tuesday lunchtime, it’s clear these morsels are freshly made to order. When torn open the little pouches release a slick of savoury broth and a decent ball of flavoursome minced pork. Pique with a little black vinegar. $8 for 8.