When it comes to xiao long bao aka XLB aka soup dumplings, Din Tai Fung aka DTF reigns supreme. Many may argue whether DTF truly makes the best XLB out there, considering it is a Shanghainese specialty made famous by a Taiwanese chain. Few will deny that is probably the most well known peddler of these little soupy treasures. But along comes Crystal Jade. It is headquartered in Singapore and has extended its reach to every major Asian countries. Hong Kong alone has 21 locations. Crystal Jade offers many of the same dishes as DTF, with a whole lot more. Their XLB comes off as their main draw, but along with other dumplings, only takes up a page of their big menu.
Xiao Long Bao
Interestingly, the XLB only comes 4 to an order. It was just enough to get a taste of their take on the famous soup dumpling. In short, they are delicious. They are not in any way similar to DTF’s version, but they are fair competition. YUMS!
I was craving noodles, instead of the usual rice cakes. These were perfect. Flavorful with dark soy sauce, great wok heii, and a good amount of cabbage and pork.
Pan Fried Radish Pastry
3SB recommended this dim sum item, unlike anything I’ve had before. First off, it was DAMN piping hot. I literally burned my mouth taking my first bite.
It was like a flakey pastry and a dumpling made sweet love here. Buttery flakey layers enveloped a savory unctuous center of radishes. It was uber delicious, but very heavy. One was enough. Two made me notice how greasy this was.
Pan Fried Pork Dumpling
The last stop on this delicious lunch train were these fat juicy dumplings.
I love my dumplings with a thick chewy skin. The porky filling was perfectly balanced. YUMS!
I initially had no intention of trying Crystal Jade during my trip to Hong Kong. I actually had not even heard of the place until I got to Asia. On the surface, it seemed like a wannabe DTF. It does have a similar concept that it executes very successfully with just some some subtle differences. The menu is a little larger. My eyes dazzled and my stomach growled at the extra options. The food is a little more flavorful. So I was reaching for my glass of water quite a bit. Imitator or not, it was a darn tasty place to have our last meal in Hong Kong. Everything we tried was solid and delicious. The radish pastry was a bit heavy, but I would still order it again and hope to split it among more people. I saw there’s actually a location in SF, but it doesn’t look to have the same quality food. I can only hope Crystal Jade will do a better expansion Stateside.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here