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REVIEW w/ pics: Taking the Bao Road Through Monterey Park: Mama's Lu, Dean Sin World, Giang Nan and Shau May Restaurant

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REVIEW w/ pics: Taking the Bao Road Through Monterey Park: Mama's Lu, Dean Sin World, Giang Nan and Shau May Restaurant

pleasurepalate | May 5, 2011 08:50 AM

In 2008, I did a Xiao Long Bao (XLB) Crawl that started in San Gabriel and ended at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. Click the link below to read that post:

http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/20...

However, Monterey Park also boasts some XLB goodness which I've been able to experience since that time and thought I'd share some of those meals in this post, starting with Mama's Lu Dumpling House. Mama's Lu is actually the first stop of an XLB crawl that I did in 2009. Yes, I know it's a late post, but hopefully, it's still relevant.

At Mama's Lu, we shared two different kinds of Xiao Long Bao. We started with the Pork XLB. The wrapper was reminiscent of what you'd find at Din Tai Fung in that it was thin-skinned, although not as much as DTF's XLB. The XLB at Mama's Lu were also quite juicy, so they definitely did the job, but there were two ways they differed from DTF. First, there was a little hard knot of dough at the top of the dumpling and Mama's XLB didn't fit as nicely in the soup spoon. In fact, I've found that DTF's Xiao Long Bao are always smaller than everyone else's.

The other XLB we tried had a Pork and Crab filling. Unlike the Pork XLB, they were served individual aluminum tins, which I didn't quite understand unless it was the restaurant's way of being able to tell the difference between the two of them. Of the two XLBs, the Pork and Crab XLB was a little juicier. Perhaps that explains why the wrapper skin was a tad thicker than the Pork XLB. The filling also had a nice crabby taste, which you shouldn't take for granted. I've had Pork and Crab XLBs in the past that was missed that crab taste.

From Mama's Lu, we made our way to Dean Sin World. At the time, you really had to know where this restaurant was because there wasn't any kind of signage that indicated "Dean Sin World" anywhere in front of the restaurant. That did change later on.

At Dean Sin World, they only offer a Pork XLB, so that's what we got, along with some other items, which I'll mention later on. One thing to note about DSW is that they apparently supply Xiao Long Bao to a lot of local restaurants, which means you could have previously had a XLB from Dean Sin World and not have even known it.

As for that Pork XLB, the skin was a little thicker than the Pork XLB from Mama's Lu Restaurant. Then and now, I like the Pork XLB from Dean Sin World and it's certainly better than other XLBs I've had at other restaurants, but it's not the first place I'd go to for an XLB fix. There are about 2-3 places I'd go to ahead of DSW and if you want to know, they would include J&J, Mama's Lu and Din Tai Fung.

Another Bao that you can get at Dean Sin World is their Fried Bao and it's pretty tasty. The bread is soft and spongy on the surface, but has a crispy bottom. I also liked the addition of the chopped green onions to the pork filling. By the way, there is no soup in this Fried Bao. The liquid on the plate where the Fried Bao was sitting is left over from the vinegar and the Pork XLB.

While we were at DSW, we also had Red Bean and Daikon Pastries, Fried Toast and Pan Fried Pork Dumplings. I liked the Red Bean Pastry, but didn't care too much for the Daikon Pastries. It reminded me of a sauerkraut that somehow wasn't cooked properly. The Fried Toast were a bit greasy, but I liked its buttery crunch and the Pan Fried Pork Dumplings were just okay.

After Dean Sin World, we strolled over to Giang Nan, where they only serve one type of XLB which is their Crab and Pork XLB. Before the XLB arrived, we snacked on Seaweed Battered Fish, which was light and airy, if a tad salty.

As for the XLB at Giang Nan, I've actually tried it a couple of times and each time, I was pretty disappointed. I don't even think this dumpling should be called a Xiao Long Bao. There was really no soup to be had and the meat filling was a hard ball. Another issue was that the flavor was inconsistent. Sometimes, you'd get a taste of the crab and other times, not so much. In their defense, XLBs aren't their specialty, but their other food is pretty darn good.

Our final stop was actually at a restaurant called FC Shanghai that has now closed. Remember, that I mentioned earlier that Dean Sin World sells their XLBs to other restaurants. Well, our entire group actually felt that we were having a Dean Sin World XLB Redux. They tasted the same. See the pictures at the link provided at the end of this post and let me know what you think.

FC Shanghai was actually the last stop of that crawl, but I couldn't end this post without talking about Shau May Restaurant, which I visited November of 2010. I first read about Shau May in a Squid Ink post by Elina Shatkin (http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...) and when I found out about the Sheng Jian Bao aka Shanghai Pan Fried Small Bao, which aren't actually small at all, I knew I had to try it out. This also became a small bao crawl because we hit Dean Sin World afterwards.

According to the article, not all Sheng Jian Bao have soup, but the one at Shau May definitely does. One little bite and it practically all poured out and I loved it. I have to admit it was a challenge to eat, but oh so worth it. I also enjoyed the slightly chewy skin and how the bottom of this bao was crispy and browned.

While at Shau May, we also checked out other things like their Watermelon Juice, which I found to be really watery, so I wouldn't order it again. The green beans were just green beans, tasty, but a bit oily.

In fact, the Green Onion Pancake and the Jing Dong Meat Pie were also a bit oily, but I still enjoyed chowing down on them. The Green Onion Pancake was interesting in that it was a little thicker than I've seen a Green Onion Pancake before; yet, it still had a nice crispiness to it.

When the Jing Dong Meat Pie came out, I kept looking at it and thinking if I've ever had anything similar to it and I can honestly say No. It was like a pizza shaped "egg roll" and I really enjoyed it. The only thing I would have changed is to add more vegetables to the filling. Those egg roll slices were actually a good size, so it felt a little too meaty at times.

After we were gone grazing at Shau May, we walked over to Dean Sin World. While the Pork Xiao Long Bao were steaming away in the kitchen, we snacked on the complementary seaweed peanuts, which are very addicting as well as bamboo shoots which had an anise taste to them.

Finally, our tin of Pork XLB came out. On that particular evening, they weren't as soupy as they usually are, so I was a bit disappointed. However, every restaurant has off nights, even Dean Sin World.

I hope you enjoyed this Bao-Heavy post and if you'd like to walk the bao road for yourself, check out all the addresses below.

Mama's Lu
153 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755
(626) 307-5700

Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave #2
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 571-0636

Giang Nan
306 N Garfield Ave S
Monterey Park, CA 91755
(626) 573-3421

Shau May Restaurant
104 N Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 571-2727

To see post complete with photos, go to:
http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/20...

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Giang Nan
306 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA

Shau May Restaurant
104 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754

Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave # 2, Monterey Park, CA

Mama's Lu Dumpling House
153 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755

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