Went in the city to get a haircut, was close by Shanghai dumpling shop by Balboa(in Chinese it reads, dumpling, buns, and soup not dumpling soup), with the recent SF Chronicle article on the place I thought give it a shot. Went into the place and look waitress over 10 min. to even reconize I was waiting for a table (I had to flag her down to ask). Even though the place is call Shanghai Soup Dumpling, the chef and workers are Cantonese (tried to speak to them in Madarine first, but noticed they didn't really speak it, so had to switch to Cantonese). Perhaps, the chef worked at a Shanghai restaurant before.
Ordered the Beijing boiled dumpling and XLB. Took about 40 min for the boil dumplings to come. When it came I was very disappointed. It is obvious they bought the dumplings from a vendor. Why you ask? I buy the same exact type of dumpling from the same made from home vendor. It tasted exactly the same! No worries I thought, XLB is coming and they can redeem themselves.
The XLB took another 20 min. to come, it looked nice enough. The wrapper was nice and thin, about 3 of them ripped and one was upside down. I used my teeth to carefully bite on the side of XLB to let the soup fall into the spoon. There was some soup, well, I wouldn't call it soup more like hot lard. I have a feeling they must use lard and not aspic with their filling. Also, I tasted a lot of MSG in the soup/fat. My tongue was pratically numbed by the time I was done with the dumplings. It's not the numbness you get from Sichuan peppers, but MSG over kill. I had about half of the dumplings and didn't touch the other half.
The boil dumplings and XLB came to $10, with parking $12. I never write off a place on the first visit and I won't write this place off. Perhaps it was their day off or they were simply too overwhelmed. I will not go out of my way to come to this place just for XLB though. Just tell you, can't trust every favorable review in the paper.
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