When eating a xiao long bao, one must always be careful. These scrumptious Shanghainese steamed soup dumplings are usually made of minced pork and gelatinised broth all folded in a super thin layer of dough. It takes years to master the art of folding these soup dumplings and it also takes practice to pick them up with your chopsticks and eat them without spilling piping hot soup everywhere! Here are our top picks of the best xiao long bao in Hong Kong.
You can’t mention xiao long bao without bringing up Din Tai Fung—they are basically XLB royalty! Hailing from Taipei, they have branches all around the world now and the quality of their xiao long bao remains top-notch. At most of their shops, you will be able to see the chefs hard at work at the entrance of the shop, in their white uniforms and hats, folding xiao long bao with 18 layers in lightning speed and weighing them before they go in the steamer to make sure everything is consistent.
The Fresh Steamed Pork Dumplings ($64 for six) remains their signature, though you can try out their Steamed Black Truffle and Pork Dumplings ($190 for six) to spice things up or their Steamed Chicken Dumplings ($67 for six) that comes with a piece of dough in the shape of a chicken to let chefs know which basket is what flavour! Pro tip: Din Tai Fung does deliveries now via Foodpanda.
Something more modern that also works wonders is the Dan Dan Xiaolongbao ($72 for three) from Dim Sum Library! They offer modern creative renditions of classic dim sum that also look aesthetic to keep things exciting and we’re happy to try everything. The dough of the xiao long bao here is bright orange, as the spicy flavour of dan dan noodles is mixed in. Each xiao long bao has its own little basket and you don’t need any extra vinegar, because once you bite into it, the spiciness of dan dan noodles will take over!
Xiao long bao is a common treat that used to be found in street shops, so don’t look down on chain restaurants like Crystal Jade that offer great deals for xiao long bao. The standard Xiao Long Bao ($39 for four) is packed with minced pork and broth, though they are known to spice things up with a seasonal ingredient such as diced abalone or hairy crab roe to add a sweet and savoury flavour to the xiao long bao. Remember to dip it in the vinegar that comes as an accompaniment for an even better experience of the xiao long bao as the sourness cuts through the grease from the pork!
No one ever said that xiao long bao only has to have one flavour, so Paradise Dynasty gave us eight! The Specialty Dynasty Xiao Long Bao ($118) includes flavours of pork, cheese, Sichuan garlic, crab roe, black truffle and foie gras flavours that come in a variety of colours like a rainbow in a bamboo basket! Despite the gimmicky outlook, the xiao long bao is folded with skill and precision, with paper-thin dough and broth that packs a punch.
A different version of xiao long bao from what you may be used to, 10 Shanghai has a Pan-Fried Xiao Long Bao ($68 for four) that brings a different texture altogether. The xiao long bao is served on a hot metal plate and comes sizzling so the bottom is actually crispy and crunchy, but the rest of the xiao long bao is still the same soft texture that you may be used to. There’s even a tiny spatula you can use to scrap the xiao long bao off the plate, just remember to cool it down a little bit so you don't burn your tongue!
10 Shanghai, Shop 101, Lee Garden Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2338 5500
If you ever feel like splurging on xiao long bao (who knows when that urge will ever grip you), Spring Moon has the perfect fix for you. They have taken the concept of xiao long bao and elevated it to the next level with their Steamed Sicilian Shrimp and Minced Pork Dumpling ($98). It is a giant xiao long bao that comes in its own bamboo basket, with traces of orange inside. The colour comes from the Sicilian shrimp broth and roe that is mixed within it. If you want to be picky, you can even ask for a straw to poke into the xiao long bao and drink the broth directly from you bite into it!
Spring Moon, 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 22 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2696 6760
For a taste of the real old Shanghai, we would probably head down to Shanghai Lane. They are famous for serving the best of Shanghai cuisine, such as pork dumplings, dan dan noodles, and of course, xiao long bao! With low rise wooden tables and stools, the no-frills store serves a classic Xiaolongbao ($40 for four). It is the perfect side dish for their dan dan noodles, and this combo is also a classic Shanghainese meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Quality xiao long bao is usually found in establishments that focus on serving Shanghainese food, such as Xia Fei Society. From the bronze sculptures wearing qipaos in the restaurant to their menu, everything screams Shanghai, especially their Xiao Long Bao ($60 of four). With the delicate dough, you can almost see the broth shining through the bottom so be careful when you can picking it up with your chopsticks or the whole thing might break!
Xia Fei Society Shanghaiese Society, 4/F, Century Square, 1–13 D’Aguilar Street | (+852) 2522 7611
If you are scared of breaking the xiao long bao before you get to savour it, Yè Shanghai came up with a solution for you. Their Steamed Pork Dumplings ($60 for four) is served in a bamboo basket, and every plump xiao long bao sits on top of a slice of carrot to prevent them from bursting easily. With their extra dose of rich broth, we would suggest adding a few slices of ginger to your vinegar dip before you pop the xiao long bao into your mouth so that it can help cut through the richness and greasiness you may feel.
Yè Shanghai, Shop 332, 3/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty | (+852) 2918 9833