Xiao long bao can rightly be considered next generation hawker food. By that, I don’t mean that it is made by next generation millennials, but by the next generation of immigrants from the northern parts China.
Of the many dishes that the Northern Chinese have brought over, only xiao long bao and its counterparts ie guo tie and la mian has really been able to get integrated into our hawker centre culture. The rest of the dishes are still very much considered to be too exotic for our local palates. However, you can easily find these Northern Chinese small eats concentrated in hotspots around the island like People’s Park Complex where it feels as if you have just stepped through a Dr Strange’s portal to a food centre somewhere in China!
The appearance of xiao long bao in our hawker centres is a happy development for me. Not only are they cheaper than those sold in restaurants, they are a quick means of satisfying that urge for the soupy little dumplings without having to sit down for a proper meal.
This stall was recommended by Chef Wayne of Keng Eng Kee whose zi char is just a stone’s throw from the food centre. It’s owned and operated by Mr and Mrs Zhang who arrived from Nanjing in 1998. After working in the kitchens of other Chinese restaurants, he finally opened his own stall here in Alexandra Village 7 years ago.
The xiao long bao is made on the premises but are kept in the fridge until the customer orders. As such, the skin is a little wrinkly, unlike a dumpling which is steamed immediately after its made. The folds on the bao are also a little less refined than those at the restaurant’s.
But ascetics aside, once it is in your mouth, the XLB bursts into a mouthful of tasty soup. It is a little on the sweet side, but still quite agreeable for me. It’s not the best around, but still better than some of the XLB which I have tasted at some high end dim sum restaurants. 4/5
Their guo tie, again, is more a feast for the palate then the eye. The skin is nice and chewy and the crust crispy. Very competent and I will certainly order it again if I am there. 4/5
Their other top seller is the szechuan chilli wanton. I personally found the sauce to be a little too sweet, but one of my kaki, Aaron, who had lived in China for 7 years tells me that he really enjoys it and finds it even better than those he has had in China. I will leave it to you to decide. 3.5/5
Good to see these new generation stalls at our hawker centres! It’s really a life saver when you are hankering for the soupy dumplings but don’t want to have to have a full meal a the restaurant! The dumplings here are quite good and the owners have adjusted the taste to suit the local palate. I found everything a little on the sweet side, but otherwise, I won’t hesitate to order a basket of the xiao long bao when I am dining at the hawker centre.
Shanghai La Mian Xiao Long Bao 上海拉面小笼包
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