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Here's Where To Get Those Giant Soup Dumplings People Are Freaking Out Over
The San Gabriel Valley is a place for dumplings of all shapes and sizes, but perhaps few are as imposing as the soup dumpling so big that it requires a straw.
By now most are familiar with xiaolongbao, the juicy Shanghainese soup dumplings that burst piping hot broth into your mouth (spiked to the eater's liking with Zhenjiang vinegar and fresh slivers of ginger). There are plenty of places for 'XLB' in the SGV, but most would agree that the platonic ideal of the form are the pork and crab xialongbao from any outpost of Din Tai Fung. San Gabriel's Long Xing Ji is a worthy contender as well, especially since they specialize in a slightly sweet Wuxi-style xiaolongbao—but that's not the main attraction.
Instead, the you're probably there for tangbao (which simply translates to "soup bun"), an individual dumpling so big it takes up a whole steamer that typically holds four bite-sized dumplings you'd get at dim sum. These things are so startling that our friends in New York are freaking out over them. It'd be a misnomer to call these "giant" xiaolongbao, as the "xiao" in their name already means "little" or "petite." On the menu, it's modestly referred to as a "juicy pork & crab bun" in English.
Obviously it's far too large to be popped into your mouth whole like a savory bon-bon or gingerly worked on while cradling it on your soup spoon. Instead, your server will provide you with a sturdy straw that has a pointed tip like a boba straw. You'll stab through the tangbao skin with the straw and slurp the broth within. Be careful, the larger dumpling means it's able to retain its heat better—slurp slowly. Even after you've slurped as much of the soup as you can and begin to tackle the tangbao by more destructive means, you'd be surprised at how much soup still gushes out when you tear the skin.
Aside from their soup dumplings, Long Xing Ji (formerly known as Wang Xing Ji) also specializes in Wuxi-style Chinese cuisine, which is known for their sweet savory dishes. These smoky, caramelized flavors are best exemplified with dishes like the deep fried eel served cold, smoked fish and their pork spareribs, which have a richer flavor profile than your typical sweet-and-sour pork. If sweetness is not your thing, most of the soup dumplings come with unsweetened varieties (and the large tangbao is already unsweetened).
Long Xing Ji is located at 140 W. Valley Blvd., #211 in San Gabriel, on the second floor of San Gabriel Square. (626) 307-1188.
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