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The 8 Best Soup Dumpling Shops In Los Angeles
Fact: you can never have too many dumplings. But where do you go when you want some broth with your carbs? When most people think of soup dumplings, powerhouse Din Tai Fung usually comes to mind—but what are the alternatives when you're not in the mood to wait in a two-hour line? Luckily, Angelenos have an enormous selection and variety of soup dumplings to serve as a Plan B. Here are the best soup dumplings in Los Angeles.
LONG XING JIWhat's the most Instagram-able soup dumpling in town? Answer: Long Xing Ji. Previously known as Wang Xing Ji or Juicy Dumplings, this dumpling powerhouse specializes in gigantic tangbao and Wuxi-style soup dumplings. The tangbao is basically a soup dumpling on steroids stuffed with pork and fresh crab. The massive dumpling is so big that it comes in its own individual steamer along with a straw. There's a method to eating the monster dumpling: stick the straw into the middle of the dumpling and suck all the soup out before eating the skin. Long Xing Ji also has the more diminutive xiao long bao—the soup dumplings most of us are familiar with. Choose between the sweet Wuxi style or the regular savory style most are accustomed to. Or better yet, try both and compare!
Long Xing Ji is located at 140 West Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, (626) 307-1188.
DIN TAI FUNGThe obvious mention: Din Tai Fung is a global dumpling powerhouse with two restaurants located right next to each other just in the San Gabriel Valley alone. Unlike many of the mom-and-pop dumpling houses in the area, they not only make great dumplings with a thin skin and a juicy flavor-packed filling, but they also understand how to craft a fine dining experience accessible to the uninitiated. Once you walk in through the door, you're greeted with a view of the kitchen, with the chefs handcrafting the delectable dumplings you're about to nosh on. There are a large variety of dumplings—including the exquisite truffle and pork xiao long bao—and they even have sweet dessert dumplings. Although there are polarizing views about Din Tai Fung, you have to give credit where credit is due.
Din Tai Fung is located at 1108 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, (626) 574-7068, 1088 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, (626) 446-8588, and 171 Caruso Avenue, Glendale. A new location at the Westfield Santa Anita mall is coming soon.
GRAND HARBORYou've probably heard of Grand Harbor as the new high-end Cantonese restaurant in Temple City with an insane $9,388 dinner menu, but during their dim sum hours there are dishes us normal folk can actually afford. Grand Harbor carries two types of soup dumplings: one is the typical xiao long bao known on the menu as a Shanghai dumpling, and the other is a deluxe soup dumpling with imitation shark's fin (glass noodles) with pork, mushroom, and crab. Each deluxe dumpling order comes with three dumplings in a bowl of thick soup that is sure to fill you up.
Grand Harbor is located at 5729 Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City, (626) 280-2998. Dim sum is served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
MAMA LU'SThe top alternative to Din Tai Fung's two-hour lines is Mama Lu's. Despite having two restaurants within blocks of one another, Mama Lu' still manages have lines that can reach up to an hour long on the weekends.
The xiao long bao from Mama Lu's are slightly bigger than the ones at Din Tai Fung and also have a thicker skin, holding their shape better. It also makes it harder to accidentally puncture through the skin and lose all the rich broth. On par in taste with Din Tai Fung, the xlb here pack more meat and have a denser broth—and also come at a bargain price in comparison. For the most bang for your buck, pick up a frozen bag of 50 for $18.50. Buy some cabbage to line your steam, head home, and steam away.
DEAN SIN WORLD
Located in an old, run-down Chinese plaza in Monterey Park is Dean Sin World, a tiny mom 'n pop owned by the actual Mama Lu herself (her daughter owns Mama Lu's). The soup dumplings at Dean Sin World are all made to order. Compared to Din Tai Fung, their xiao long bao is bigger with a medium-thick skin, but still juicy, for half the price (and none of the lines!). Like Mama Lu's, Dean Sin World sells an array of frozen dumplings. Take home a bag of 50 soup dumplings for $16.
Dean Sin World is located at 306 N Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park, (626) 571-0636.
KANG KANG FOOD COURTKang Kang Food Court is the reason why people tell you to never judge a book by its cover. Although it appears to be run-of-the-mill takeout place, Kang Kang is worth the trip for their pan-fried sheng jian bao. Not typically classified as soup dumplings as they usually do not have much broth or juice inside, but Kang Kang's sheng jian baos are different. They are huge enough that one bite can squirt a projectile of broth at the person across from you. For a little under $8, you are given eight bao served on a styrofoam plate. The dumplings have an ultra crispy exterior with a very juicy and savory pork meatball inside. To eat, bite a small piece of the corner and carefully drink the soup to avoid scolding broth from burning the roof of your mouth. Kang Kang also has the xiao long bao, but the sheng jian bao is what you're here for.
Kang Kang Food Court is located at 27 E Valley Boulevard, Alhambra, (626) 308-3898, at 9618 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, (626) 309-9799, at 18017 E Gale Avenue, Industry, (626) 435-3088 and 104 North Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park, (626) 571-2727.
IXLB DIMSUM EATS
Hollywood and authentic Chinese food usually don't go hand in hand, but ixlb DimSum Eats is finally giving Westsiders some hope. Ixlb Dimsum Eat is a tiny shack that focuses on takeout. The soup dumplings at ixlb are slightly bigger than Din Tai Fung's, and with a slightly thicker skin yet delicate skin to contain the juicy interior. Each order comes with four pieces, and the best part is that no matter what you order at ixlb, it's a flat $3.95 per each item. There are also 25 other non-xlb options to also consider.
ixlb DimSum Eats is located at 5900 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood.
SHANGHAI DUMPLING HOUSEIf you want a xiao long bao loaded with so much broth that it droops to the brink of explosion, then Shanghai Dumpling House may be your best bet. This unassuming spot has extremely juicy xiao long bao at about half the cost of those of Din Tai Fung's with almost zero wait. Made on the spot, the dumplings come in the usual favorite flavors like pork, shrimp, spicy pork, crab roe and veggie wrapped in a nearly-transparent paper-thin skin. If that isn't your speed, Shanghai Dumpling House also carries more unique, harder to find menu items such as salty egg yolk pork dumplings and spicy xiao long bao.
Shanghai Dumpling House is located at 227 W Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, (626) 282-1348.