This little place is a goodie. I dropped there tonight with the intention of ordering the potstickers (recommended by Random1). But I couldn't quite get over my potsticker aversion and chose the #6 Shanghai steamed dumpling (10) @ $4.95 (xiao3 long2 bao1) instead. And, I had to try out #68 Minced pork noodles @ $4.65 (zha2 jiang4 mian4) too after our extensive discussion on these boards.
Nice job with both. I agree with Limster that the XLB are some of the best around these parts. Yeah, the skins aren't the thinnest, but thin enough and have an slightly elastic chewy quality that was interesting. Plus they held together and lost none of their juice. The pork and chive filling is light and soft in texture. My one criticism is that the soup inside had a slight bitter edge. Hopefully this is just a batch difference and not always the case.
The noodles came in a huge bowl, most of which I took home with me. The sauce was not as salty as some I've had, letting the complexity of the flavors show through. Tiny dice of eggy omelet, pickled radish, scallions, dried mushrooms and carmelized onion mingle with a bit of sauteed minced pork in a brownish bean sauce. The cucumbers were sliced a bit thick but very fresh and crisp. The noodles were flattened ribbons, not unlike linguine, and were a bit soft for my taste. But I like the sophistication of this usually more homey dish.
The other enjoyable part of the evening was striking up a conversation with the Chinese couple at the next table. I was eyeing their food before ordering, and he was trying to figure out which wine magazine I was reading. So I broke the ice and asked whether the kao3 fu1 was good. A polite answer came back that it depended on what you like. Since they didn't polish off their plate, guess it wasn't their style. After I ordered, the gentlemen complimented me on my selection. His curiousity got the better of him and asked about my magazine. Since it was Harper's, a British industry mag, he had never seen one before. We ended up having an animated conversation about the best vintages of Opus One, favorite Burgundies, and I had a chance to give him some hot tips on the new vintage of Oregon Pinot Noir.
Chatting with the waitress, I learned that the place has been open for 1 year and 3 months. The family that owns it is Cantonese and the chef is from Shanghai. She also said that she would translate the specials posted on the walls in Chinese for me the next time I come in.
Thanks Limster and Random1 for this tip!
Sweet Temptation Restaurant
3319 Balboa St.
M, W, Th, Fri: 11-3, 5-9:30pm
Sat & Sun: 10-3, 5-9:30pm