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XLB at Heaven’s Dog in SF


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XLB at Heaven’s Dog in SF

Melanie Wong | | Jun 27, 2009 03:19 PM

Lunched yesterday at Heaven’s Dog in SF, a first time for both of us. It’s been open about six months now. Chowpals who attended the friends and family soft openings raved, then were gravely disappointed on returning shortly thereafter. I’ll run up the all-clear signal flag now, it’s safe to go back.

The thick slab of red-cooked pork belly (rind on) was succulent, fatty and melted in the mouth. Not quite as complex in seasoning as my memories of Ton Kiang’s. Good job on the clamshell-shaped lotus-type steamed bun. I could have used a bit more of the shredded scallions, yet a big thumb’s up on this one.

braised pork belly in clam shell bun, scallions 9

Nice job on the xiao long bao (XLB), called Shanghai dumplings on the menu. I especially appreciated that a pair of soup spoons were provided along with the shredded ginger and Zhejiang black rice vinegar. Wish I could combine the quality of the pork and collagen-rich juices here with the seasoning touch of a traditional Shanghainese resto. The pork filling was just a touch grainy in mouthfeel and being undersalted, the natural flavor of the meat was front and center. Yet, I would have liked a touch of sesame and a bit of ginger in the filling, as well as more salt. The wrappers were thin and delicate, and oddly three of the dumplings had a small hole near the top knot that leaked.

shanghai dumplings, pork, rice vinegar, scallions 8

The riff on Cantonese favorite, Singapore style meifun, which apparently is unknown in Singapore. was done quite well here. I prefer this to the overly greasy and gritty with raw curry powder versions I’ve suffered through elsewhere. Quite densely packed with pork shrimp, scrambled egg, golden leeks, neatly trimmed bean sprouts, sweet slivers of onion, and julienned jalapeño chilis, this would have benefited from more noodles, frankly. The curry powder was a bit faint, just a tiny bit that barely colored the vermicelli. The strips of pork shoulder were cut too large, but they were nicely singed from the wok, and everything else was cut quite expertly so this must be intentional. I'm not going to order this anywhere else now.

rice vermicelli stir fry, niman ranch pork shoulder, shrimp, yellow curry 10

We each had a cocktail from the list, pisco sour for him, and a gin fizz tropical for me. The egg white head on the gin fizz was so dense, it reminded me of a soft meringue. I didn’t see the bill, but my dining companion thought it was a very good deal. Service was pleasant and efficient, and it was so convenient to park in the building.

After lunch we asked if we could step into the front kitchen and counter area. This is the sunny room in the front of the restaurant, and you walk through the pantry to reach it. It was interesting to take a look at the variety and brands of Chinese condiments on the shelf here. At lunch time, I think I’d prefer this light-filled room to the two lines of table back by the bar.

Heaven's Dog
1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103