Full disclosure: this is the first time I’ve ever eaten Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao’s oft vaunted Xiao Long Baos. Yes, it’s 2024 and it’s only now that I’ve sampled the signature menu item from this critically acclaimed hawker stall, but I finally did it and I got a review to share.⠀

I’m gonna just say this right off the bat: Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (I’m just gonna abbreviate them as ZGLM from now on) XLBs are nowhere near as soupy as I was expecting them to be, and truth be told, I was a little disappointed. The soup is definitely delicious though, and the minced pork filling is equally excellent. So, why have so many people gone absolutely nuts over this? Well, mom was wrong this time: sometimes, beauty is only skin deep.⠀

The dough wrapper that encased the dumpling was daintily delicate and tremendously thin. It was so delicate that I found myself holding my breath & being extra delicate when handling a Xiao Long Bao, almost as if I was defusing a bomb. I would even say that the dough wrapper was on par with DTF, the OG Xiao Long Bao merchant, which is quite a lofty compliment. While the traditional condiment of black vinegar & julienned ginger is a prime pairing with ZGLM’s delicious dumplings, I posit that the homemade chili ZGLM has is a far better choice. It’s subtly spicy, splendidly sour and is the yin to the yang of the XLB. ⠀

At the low, low price of $7.50 flat for ten of these stellar XLBs, it’s no wonder why so many people have waxed lyrical about ZGLM. Unfortunately they are a bit far from Smith Street Taps, but the ethereal experience of consuming these excellent XLBs with a cracking cold pint is well worth the extra effort.⠀