There has been an ongoing debate about the best place to eat dumplings, specifically of the XLB (xiao long bao) variety. For those of you that don’t know, XLB, also known as soup dumplings, are a dim sum staple. A fluffy filling — primarily pork — and heavily gelatinized broth cubes are enrobed in a partially leavened wrapper and then steamed. Upon steaming, the broth cubes melt to reveal a brothy pool of delicious suspended within the dumpling.) What happens when a last-minute contender enters the race? Bust out the chopsticks and soup spoons and get ready to slurp, that’s what.
[jump] Dumpling Kitchen, just a few blocks away from one of the major players in the XLB game — that would be Kingdom of Dumpling, also on Taraval — offers a solid offering of various Shanghainese fare, including the beloved soup dumpling. Not to be missed are any of the cold appetizers, especially a cucumber salad that's one of the best around. Take your pick of various dumplings, and know that the spicy peanut noodles are quite special, too. But the real treat is the Shanghai-Style Pan-Fried Pork Buns.
Essentially, these buns have all of the makings of XLB, but in a thicker, fully leavened dough wrapper. The buns are steamed, then pan fried, resulting in a soft, pillowy baozi with a slightly crispy, caramelized bottom. Enjoy with some of the house-made chili condiment and a touch of soy sauce for a fully balanced bite. Round out the meal with a glass of warm soy milk, available sweetened or salty, for a truly authentic experience.
Dumpling Kitchen, 1935 Taraval, 415-682-8938.