Xiao Long Bao Showdown: Din Tai Fung vs. Shanghai Xiao Chi

Attention! I’ve just gotten out of a time traveling vehicle from the past to bring you xiao long bao showdown! So what if I missed the xlb bandwagon a few years ago? I still enjoy the dangerously hot soup dumplings.

Din Tai Fung is many people’s go-to spot for these dumplings, but not me.  The restaurant itself is crowded, a little too efficient, and I always feel rushed by the service there.  Sure, the big window in the front that overlooks the sterile-looking dumpling wrapping station is pretty cool and it’s a good place to bring people who are new to xlb’s, but I consider this more of a tourist location.

Xiao Long Bao Taste-offXiao Long Bao Taste-off

Their standard pork dumplings are always consistent. Because the skin is so thin, they’re extra delicate, so make sure to have your chopstick skills handy.  One time the BF went there, they brought him a basket of dumplings but they were all leaky with most of the soup gone!  My favorite dumplings here are the combination crab and pork ones. The extra savory taste of the crab makes the soup so stand out.

Xiao Long Bao Taste-off

Shanghai Xiao Chi is one of the other places I go to for xlb’s.  The wrapper has more substance, the meat is a little gingery, and the soup is great. The xlb’s seem more homey and rustic too, so maybe that’s why I like them.  The service is also pretty nice and relaxed.

Between the two, Shanghai Xiao Chi is my preferred choice.  The dumplings are larger and cheaper, compared to Din Tai Fung’s smaller, more expensive ones. There’s no cool window to look into, but after seeing that once, it doesn’t really matter.

Shanghai Xiao Chi
828 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 588-2284

Din Tai Fung
1108 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007-7508
(626) 574-7068

Boat Noodles Showdown: Sapp vs. Ord

To take a break from the coverage of my Monterey Bay trip, I present to you BOAT NOODLES SHOWDOWN: SAPP vs. ORD in Thai town.  Thanks again to Tony C for setting this up and getting everyone together.

Our first stop was to Sapp Coffee Shop which I’ve written about before. Their broth is thick, rich, has just the right amount of spiciness (if you ask for a medium), and is a good-sized portion for a meal. The assorted meats you get from the #3 on the menu are all decent and tasty as well as scary if you’re easily grossed out by offal. For $5.50 a bowl, you can’t get any better than this:

Beef Boat Noodle @ Sapp

After paying our tab at Sapp, we walked the few blocks over to Ord for round two. Ord certainly is a more ‘classy’ joint compared to Sapp. The tables are not as rickety, the chairs more solid, and the restaurant is just cleaner looking — if you’re into that kind of thing. I personally think that’s a ding to their authenticity.

Beef Boat Noodle @ Ord

The broth at Ord, which I ordered as a medium was more spicy, but not as flavorful. It also had a separate, thin layer of oil at top, which usually doesn’t bother me, but didn’t really add any flavor.  The broth at ord was sweeter, thinner, and just not as rich. The beef meatballs also had a strange off-taste (yes, more ‘off’ than they usually taste) to them that I didn’t much care for. The one thing Ord has going for them is that I ordered thick flat noodles in this bowl of soup and they were fantastic. Slick, wide, and still chewy.

I also have to give Ord points for giving the option of different sizes.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a regular sized bowl after just eaten at Sapp, so I ordered the small ($3.50) which was perfect.

Verdict: Sapp Coffee shop is the winner in my book. The broth is better there and even though Ord’s noodle was better, it’s not fair comparing the noodles of both restaurants because I got the regular thin noodles at Sapp’s. Next time I go, I need to order the thick, wide noodles, but I think my decision will remain the same.

Vegan Rice Noodles @ Sapp

As a bonus, the lady at Sapp was nice enough to make the BF a special vegan plate of fried rice noodles. That’s always a few extra points in my book.  Also, for those who are scared of boat noodles, Sapp also has a lot more other noodle and rice dishes that aren’t quite as scary such as the Jade noodles, which Jessica ordered for the table:

Jade Noodles @ Sapp

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles
CA 90027
(323) 665-1035

Ord Noodles
5401 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027-3405
(323) 468-9302