Monday, January 19, 2015

Do you XLB? You should.

Do you know what this is? This is xaiolongbao, and it is pretty much my favorite edible thing to come out of China, ever. XLB, as some trendy hipsters have taken to calling it, is basically a pork meatball soup made into bite-size delicious morsels. Within that soft exterior is a meatball surrounded by broth, waiting to be taken between two chopsticks and eaten.

My first run in with xaiolongbao was at Ping's Dumpling House in Seattle. The restaurant sits unassuming in the middle of the international district. When you look inside, it is a pretty humble shop with the same people there every day. All of the dumplings are made by hand on site and while the menu offers two or three different versions, they just are not as amazing as the xaiolongbao. My first experience was... awkward, but delicious. There is a bit of a trick to eating these dumplings and I had no idea what it was, so it ended up being a bit messy (1).

Now that I am in Oakland, I need to find my go to replacement for Ping's. Today was the first attempt. I headed out to Dumpling Kitchen in Parkside from the reviews and to see a new part of the city. The end result? Pretty dang good xaiolongbao, but way too far out to make a regular spot for me... The quest has begun!

1 The trick to eating xaiolongbao (at least how I do it): Have a soup spoon in your left hand. Carefully pick up the XLB with your chopsticks (You don't want the skin to rip!). Place the XLB in the soup spoon, then pick it up again and bite a small hole near the top. Slurp and the broth will come right out without a mess. Next, dip it in the vinegar (mixed chili, if you like) sauce and finish it off in the next bite. Repeat until you need to order more.

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