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What makes a good xiao long bao?

By Dr Leslie Tay
16 November 2011 3:29 PM Updated 16 May 2013

What makes a good xiao long bao?

How do you tell a good xiao long bao from a bad one? Start with the folds in the dumpling.

According to the lady boss of You Peng Fresh Mian Jiao Zi Guan, a typically good xiao long bao should have at least 18 folds. Her xiao long baos (ten for $7) have more than 20 each.

Next, when the dish comes right off the steamer, you should be able to see the liquid through the skin. This tells you the skin is thin enough.

You should also be able to pick it up with your chopsticks such that it doesn't break. When it does, there should be enough soup in the xiao long bao to fill approximately half a tablespoon.

Finally, when you eat the dumpling, the meat filling must not be mushy. It should have a certain amount of bounce in it, and of course, it must taste good. The soup in the dumpling at You Peng was just right. For that to happen, the soup has to be made separately and chilled until it turns to jelly and then added back into the meat filling.

The only minor fault I found with this xiao long bao was the skin at the tip of the dumpling, which tasted slightly ‘floury’.

Juicy guo tie at You Peng
Juicy guo tie at You Peng

The guo tie (pan-fried dumplings, 10 for $6) here was also surprisingly good. In fact, I was more impressed with the guo tie than I was with the xiao long bao. Based on taste alone, the skin had just the right amount of chewiness with a very nice sweetness at the end; the meat filling fragrant; the texture great; and there was also a fair amount of soup inside which made it very juicy.


You Peng Fresh Mian Jiao Zi Guan | Address: 114, Upper Bukit Timah, #04-23 Beauty World Centre | Tel: 64635608 or 92391598 | Opening hours: Daily 10.30am-9pm

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