Bold flavors at XLB Dumpling Bar
At XLB Dumpling, the delicacy of Chinese cuisine meets the accessible nature of American gastronomy in the form of bite-sized xiao long bao.
Off Amar Road, XLB Dumpling has an unassuming facade. As I stepped inside the restaurant, however, I was met with a modern, marble-based interior. The aesthetic layout consisted of two large white tables with short stools in the center and a surrounding bar-like area, providing ample seating. Pop music played in the background, adding to the contemporary atmosphere and chill vibe.
I ordered the signature pork XLB, consisting of six xiao long bao for $7. To complement my main course, I ordered creamy sesame noodles and a side of green beans, which both cost $5 for a total of $17. XLB Dumpling also offers freshly brewed drinks, such as taro ube milk tea and grapefruit, mango and yogurt galaxy (a blended drink). The cashier was helpful with the menu, and the service was quick.
I started with the creamy sesame noodles as an appetizer. The noodles were lightly seasoned, but a combination of green onion, bean sprouts, carrots and sesame sauce created a tasty and textured dish.
The xiao long bao provided a nice, warm contrast to the cool noodles. I personally felt the proportion between dumpling skin and pork was unbalanced, with the skin being too thin. Nevertheless, the meat and soup combined well for a nourishing, savory flavor.
Since each order of pork XLB only comes with six xiao long bao, I would recommend ordering a few sides to supplement the meal. The side of green beans was topped with a different type of sesame sauce that paired nicely. However, the green beans were mildly undercooked and underseasoned; the vegetables tasted bland without the sauce.
Each dish—except the pork XLB—came in a paper-based bowl. Although somewhat wasteful, the bowls doubled as convenient to-go containers, with lids easily accessible from the counter.
Overall, XLB Dumpling offers a modern twist on a traditional Chinese recipe, providing a quick meal at a relatively cheap price point.
By Sarah Aie, Online editor-in-chief
Photo by Sarah Aie