Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Review: Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Review: Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao

What happens when the craftsmanship of a food item gets too good, that it actually hinders your enjoyment of the food? At Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing Queens, it’s almost like they’re too good at making xiao long baos aka soup dumplings. How could that be? How can you go beyond the perfection that is pork with soup contained in a wrapper? See, at Nan Xiang, they’re so good at making the wrappers thin, that maybe it hurt the experience more than it helped.

This all started when Steph and I made the trip on the 7 train to Flushing a few weeks ago and we tried some xiao long bao that we read about online. Serious Eats proclaimed these to be the best version in NYC, although they talked about the pork+crab version.

Before getting into why these soup dumplings were too perfect, first it must be said that here at Food in Mouth, the belief is that you go with the plain pork version, sans crab meat. No need to get all fancy here, since it’s not a situation where adding more equates to compounded flavor. The crab meat version presents a different flavor since it’s joined with the pork flavor. So it’s really comparing two different types of soup dumplings, where as some people think one version is plain, and the crab version is plain + more. It’s not more, it’s just different.

The great thing about the xiao long bao here is that they make some really delicate wrappers. When you bite into one, the soup that gets released in your mouth seemingly explodes with porkiness. It’s good. Difficult to compare to Joe’s Shanghai or Shanghai Cafe (my favorite version), since they’re all slightly different. This was definitely a good kind of different, and I would get this more often if it were closer to Manhattan/Brooklyn. So here’s the one little itty bitty problem…

Thin wrappers burst more easily. Yea I know, you want to see the expertly executed wrappers to be thin and barely enough to hold all the soup in the bao. The thing is, when you pick it up, you have to be SUPER SUPER careful not to bust a hole. When all the soup spills out… it’s one of the most disappointing food scenes ever. By far worse than dropping an ice cream cone face down because at least with that it’s not like you’re actively trying not to drop the cone; an accident is an accident. Here? You’re trying so hard not to mess it up, you’re focused on this thing with all your might and then… AAAAARGH! Merde!

Say what you will about the xiao long baos at Shanghai Cafe. They’re good. The line there is often shorter than Joe’s Shanghai. Some days, I’m just not foodie enough to travel all the way to Flushing to eat soup dumplings. If you tell me Xan xiang xiao long bao is better than Shanghai Cafe’s, that would fly in my book. But for pure enjoyment without any sac bursting disappointment, I might have to stay with tried and true.

Xan xiang xiao long bao also does a bunch of other things. People around us had noodle soups and soy milk. The place feels like it would be bustling even during breakfast. One thing that I could eat for breakfast everyday is scallion pancakes with beef slices. It’s a very basic ‘sandwich’ with a few beef slices and hoison sauce, and yet delicious and satisfying. It’s very filling so I recommend you share this if possible. Steph and I only had these two items because we had other stops on our Flushing food tour. More on those things later this week.

p.s. – I noticed that Robyn has blogged about this place too, and her pictures on the exact same food items are like, 100x better. Check out her post to see where else in Flushing are good.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao38-12 Prince Street.Flushing, NY 11354718-321-3838