Any talk of xiao long bao, without a doubt, signals mentions of Din Tai Fung. Originating in Taiwan, the king of these treats is on a mission to gift the world the superstar dumplings. The chain is still the standard for consistently reliable XLB and the almighty golden ratio of filling to soup to skin. The delicate chewy skins encase the ideal amount of filling and broth so that each mouthful is essentially perfect. The traditional pork versions ($60 for six) are stellar, but the less common combo of black truffle and pork ($188 for six) is addictive as well. The queues can be notorious come peak hours but patience will give you the joy of noshing on what many will always call the best in town.
The Best Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong
Din Tai Fung
Dim Sum Library
This isn’t what you would call a classic dim sum joint, but it sure makes for a welcome addition by shaking things up a little. In the cool setting, you’ll be served reimagined dim sum dishes with a contemporary edge. Traditionalists may want to look away as the Dan Dan Xiao Long Bao ($68 for three) arrive at the table with an orange hue, but they will spice up your life. The filling has an abundance of Sichuan peppercorns that may make you feel like you’ve just been to the dentist’s office but they are so lip tingling tasty that we promise you’ll want more than one!
Dim Sum Library, Shop 124, Level 1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, 3643 0088, dimsumlibrary.com.hk
This institution will forever be a mainstay thanks to the la mian noodles and xiao long bao – and the long lines at practically all its locations are testament to the delicious savoury gems. The skin can sometimes be thicker than expected but the meat is always tender and juicy and the soup is full of flavour without being greasy. At $39 for four, it is one of the cheapest offerings around so you can order baskets and baskets. The chain’s pork-filled option is a constant offering but sometimes there are unusual flavours on the menu. The branches at both the HK airport and ifc mall mean that you can have your fix before taking a trip, and since we know you’ll crave them when you’re away, let it be the first thing you taste when you get back to the city!
Shanghai Lane serves home-style Shanghainese fare in a simple but nostalgic setting. Many dishes at the small restaurant warrant praise but the pork-filled xiao long bao ($35 for four) are definite highlights. They aren’t the prettiest among the ones on this list (they aren’t super intricately folded and some people are picky about how many folds there should be on the skins), but this isn’t a dumpling beauty contest. The skins are impressively thin and packed with intensely flavourful broth and succulent meat. They are also extremely fragrant, meaning that when the steamer basket arrives, you’ll have to resist being too aggressive or you may break the soup dam open with an overeager chopstick!
Shanghai Lane, 35-37 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2850 7788
Three other locations in Wan Chai, Tin Hau and Happy Valley
www.shanghailane.com.hk/ (website is in Chinese only)
If there’s a quibble to be had when it comes to the dim sum experience, it may be that the service can be brusque and that there is sometimes a lack of relaxing atmosphere. Dim sum is basically Chinese style fast food after all so most places that specialise in it want you in and out as fast as possible. So, it’s nice to know that Hong Kong has some options for devouring xiao long bao in a more tranquil setting. Ye Shanghai is a Michelin-starred restaurant that airs on the formal side with modern décor that evokes Old Shanghai. The pork XLB ($60 for four) are the bomb! All of three the star elements are finely executed, especially the skin which has a great springy texture.
Ye Shanghai, Shop 332, 3/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, 2918 9833
Ye Shanghai, 6/F, Marco Polo Hotel, Harbour City, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2237 3322, www.elite-concepts.com/en_US/yeshanghai
Paradise dynasty is an exciting find, from the bustling atmosphere to the quirky xiao long bao! The standard pork-filled dumpling’s are done really well here; the meat has tons of flavour and the broth is light and delicious enough that you wouldn’t say no to a bowlful of the stuff. However, variety is the game here and the restaurant really sets itself apart with its eight unconventional creations. If you’re adventurous, why not go for the foie gras, garlic or cheese! It may seem a bit gimmicky but it’s not a failed experiment, as they really taste like the flavours they claim to be. On top of that, the XLB are pretty and fun to eat because of the colourful wraps! You can get single flavour baskets, but we recommend going for the option that lets you try each of the eight original inventions ($98). The pinwheel of rainbow soupy bites will tantalise the eye and the different flavours are a carnival for your tastebuds!
Paradise Dynasty, 6/F, Lee Theatre, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2177 0903, www.leegardens.com.hk
Hao De Lai
This casual and unassuming spot cooks up great Shanghainese food and the xiao long bao are insanely delectable. Many who have savoured them insist that they are hands down the best in town. The dumplings come out of the kitchen piping hot and fresh; filled with succulent meat and a great soup which is not too salty. You’ll probably want to slop up at least a dozen of these and at $40 for four, you certainly can! Waiting in line and tummy rumbles don’t spell out a good time, so when you’re super hungry and need those XLB at once, stop by Hao De Lai which doesn’t tend to have the queues that other more well-known places have.
Hao De Lai, G/F, 18 Tak Hing Street, Jordan, Hong Kong, 2377 9488
Gobbling down xiao long bao may not look extremely elegant but at Hexa, you’ll look glamourous even with soup dribbling down your chin. The restaurant drips in opulence and the glittering interior is complimented by the glimmering harbour views. The presentation of dishes is also very fine dining, ensuring that the xiao long bao look picture-perfect. The soupy wonders aren’t the most sensational here and you do pay more for them ($48 for three), but the beautiful day and night panoramas are an extraordinary backdrop to your xiao long bao feast.
Hexa, Shop OTE 101, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kon, 2577 1668, www.hexa-hk.com
Hing Noodle is a small, low-key spot and a little out of the way, but you’ll be rewarded for your venture into Tai Kok Tsui. It’s no surprise that locals who have stopped by rave about the xiao long baos ($36 for four). The golden ratio of the bao is just right here as the three essential components are elegantly balanced. The XLB bites burst with soup that has a strong umami taste, the good quality pork is not too fatty with a rich flavor, and the skin is thin with a nice bounce. Doesn’t your mouth water just thinking about it?
Hing Noodle, Shop K, G/F, 2J Kok Cheung Street, Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong, 2609 0966, www.facebook.com/hingcatering
The Best Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong
The Best Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong
Unbaolievably delicious! We scoured the streets and found options that are sure to please traditionalists and the mavericks alike, so it’s time to start trying the best xiao long bao in the city…
Ah, the humble xiao long bao…Hong Kongers have a soft (and soupy) spot in our hearts for these dumplings. Everybody has an opinion on them; with the traditional school of thought insisting that the only acceptable filling is juicy and tender pork, while anarchists embrace fillings of foie gras, crab meat, and even cheese. Some love to see their bao drowning in vinegar and chopped ginger; others insist any more than a drizzle would be wrong. The tastiest method of gobbling up the soupy delicacies can be subject to debate, too. Do you nibble a hole in the skin to first slurp up the broth, or do you risk scalded tastebuds by popping it in whole for one perfect burst of flavour?
In any case, we think that we can all agree that three key components shape our little friend: some sort of delicious filling, flavoursome soup and a membrane-thin wrapper. No matter how you enjoy your XLB, we’ve scoured the streets and found options to please the traditionalists and the mavericks alike, so it’s time to start trying the best xiao long bao in the city…
Featured image courtesy of China Sichuan Food via Pinterest. Image #1 courtesy of Din Tai Fung, image #2 courtesy of Dim Sum Library, image #3 courtesy of Crystal Jade and IFC via IFC website, image #4 courtesy of nleung13 via Instagram, image #5 courtesy of Ye Shanghai via Facebook , image #6 courtesy of Paradise Group Hong Kong via Facebook, image #7 courtesy of jenny_collectmoments via Instagram, image #8 courtesy of Hexa via Facebook , image #9 courtesy of Hing Noodle via Facebook