So I’m in Santa Monica for the weekend. The word “in” is relative because really I’ve spent more time driving around in Los Angeles than actually in the bungalow but that’s pretty much Los Angeles for you.
Ren, my darling younger sister by another set of parents, has been longing to find people to eat xiao long bao for her. She’s a vegetarian and well, xiao long bao is an incredible dish and she knew a place where it apparently is sublime.
Xiao long bao is a type of dim sum with a pocket of broth inside of it along with meat, usually meat. It’s a delicate dish to balance and well there are some horrible versions of it out there. So it was a quest. I LOVE xiao long bao and hadn’t had it in a while. So off to Arcadia we went.
This is what the inside should look like. (zoom enabled for all pix)
So we ordered enough food to kill an elephant but keep in mind, Ren weighs like 90 pounds soaking wet and carrying heavy shoes. She has to eat her weight in dim sum every half hour or so or she’ll starve. Really. Buffet owners side-eye her when she comes in. She’s Renzilla.
But I digress. Bianca, Kuro, Tiff, Ren and I settled in for food. This is what we ate.
Hot tea and ginger.
The ginger is important. It is fresh and shredded fine. To eat xiao long bao, you arrange the dumpling in a spoon or between chopsticks, take a small bite and suck the soup out. I dip it in a shoyu-pepper oil mixture. (shoyu = soy sauce)
After you suck out the soup, you place a couple shreds of ginger on top and eat it.
This is the xiao long bao.
This is shrimp xiao long bao. They called it shu mai but it’s not. It’s xiao long bao with shrimp tucked into the top. You eat it the same way as the straight pork one.
This is regular bao… a steamed flour bun around steamed pork. I dip this too. Okay to be fair, I dip everything into the shoyu pepper oil.
This is Shanghai style veggie rice cake. It uses the same rice cake dumpling/noodle as ddukbokki. Sooooo good.
Chicken dumpling. You could call it… gyo(sic) ? Or gyoza but really, there’s no significant name for these other than dumpling. This is the standard. If anything is different from this, THEN it gets a different name *grins*
Veggie version of the dumpling
Garlic and Broccoli. This is so good. Yes, more shoyu pepper oil on this too.
And lastly, Vegetarian stir fried noodle. Damn tasty.
They all then went to the bakery and cleaned it out. Seriously. We ate so much and then Ren danced across the street and found green onion bao with egg or cheese. I can’t remember. She bought all that out. Really, she’s a wee sweet thing but man, our reaction was… REALLY? No, really.
They also bought a bunch of pastries but dudes, I’m too full. And it was HOURS ago that we ate. I had coffee. They had dessert. *grins* But damn, that xiao long bao was fricking fantastic.