Din Tai Fung @ South Coast Plaza?


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DTF does not have good dumplings. Even more subpar than the XLBs.

Can you offer a few that you rate highly?

Also my use of the word dumpling implied xia long bao; they’re soup dumplings afterall. I wasn’t referring to a separate menu item.

I’m going to try them for myself because I’ve heard so many highs and lows from different people whose opinions I value and respect and I’m very curious to see what its all about. I hope that my experience is similar to yours! We have fantastic Chinese in the Bay Area from practically every region of China, but we don’t really have any truly great XLB, so I have no excuse not to pop in since this is right across the street from our hotel.

We visit SF not as often as I wish but haven’t gone in search of XLB. And I won’t get them in a (Cantonese) dim sum place. I made them once…what a lot of work; two day. They were ‘just fine.’ Not nearly worth the effort.

Depends what you treasure in XLB. You like soupy, like big oversized XLB, like exotic ingredients, like thin wispy skins, like good QPR? Something else?

For my money, depending on my mood, I prefer Shanghai Dumpling House, Mama’s Lu, J&J, with PP Pop and Shanghai No. 1 bringing up the rear of the first tier because they offer something few (if any) do, late-night XLB and genuine XLB during dim sum, respectively.

XLB are most definitely not dumplings. And don’t let your laowai show by calling them soup dumplings.


They are making their donuts every hour now :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes: so no need to go early.


Fair enough, I just browsed through the '07 Chowhound thread and have a better understanding of the etymology.

I much prefer thinner wrapping with lots of meaty pork broth (technical finesse and balance of execution) but I also certainly appreciate interesting and quality ingredients. Ultimately it’s about taste, so I’m generally not too picky about style until it upsets the equilibrium. While not my preference, I’ve had some thicker skinned XLB that were knockout good too; where a soupy meatbomb counteracted the doughiness.

Thanks for your recommendations, I’ll delve deeper into each and take notes for future visits.

If XLB aren’t dumplings, then how do you make the distinction? I don’t consider them dim sum, as in Cantonese style, but I can’t think of anything that would disqualify them from being “dumplings.”

I found this helpful: https://www.chowhound.com/post/xiao-long-bao-dumplings-split-la-442135

XLB’s fall under Bun category.

Dumplings are water boiled.
Buns are steamed.

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So har gow are BUNS because they’re steamed? Along with a number of other steamed ‘things.’ Well, I’ve sure just learned something. I guess I better take my “Asian Dumplings” cook and use my black marker :slight_smile:

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Correction. Dumplings can be boiled, steamed, or pan fried (like ha gow as you stated) but buns are never boiled. I was thinking mostly of Shanghai and parts north.
In general, buns are usually steamed and dumplings are boiled.

I really don’t know crap I am a Cerritos/Artesia/626 ABC kid.


On the same side of Bristol as your hotel and just a short block away is Vaca which offers good tapas, paella and steaks. Much prefer it to Water Grill.

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Thanks! We’ve been to Vaca twice (recommended here in the past) and we like it a lot!

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That’s how I’ve always known them to be too. The B in XLB is Bao, or Bun. Wikipedia agrees.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao

In Singapore, I’ve seen XLBs listed on menus as “steamed buns with soup” or “steamed soup buns”.

Aside from Vaca and the obvious Taco Maria, in/around South Coast Plaza that is worth a visit is Anjin.

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Oh heck yeah!! I love yakiniku! This is definitely going to happen.

Do you have a favorite cut of meat here?

Is Habana a nice spot for a drink? I like the atmosphere from what I see in photos but the food and setting (prob price too-haven’t checked) look way more authentic at Bella Cuba.

Is there anything worthwhile at Habana? Cocktails? Empanadas? Flan?

I’m wondering if it’s a decent drink, lounge and nosh (emphasis on the first 2) spot nearby if ever we have some downtown from family and want to get away from the hotel…

Tongue (is that a “cut”?) and pork cheeks.

And while definitely not a “cut” the marinated raw beef with egg yolk is yummilicious.