Postcards: Truffle Xiaolongbaos in Taipei
Welcome to Postcards from China, a series of delicious snapshots from my summer in China and Taiwan.
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Item: Truffle xiaolongbao (XLB), or "soup dumplings"
Xiaolongbaos are one of those things that everyone likes - whether or not they're Chinese. During my trip to Asia, I made a point to seek out different variations of these miniature dumplings. In Shanghai, I was adamant on finding "authentic" xiaolongbaos. In Taiwan, I waited an hour in line to get a taste of the world's most famous xiaolongbao restaurant -- Din Tai Fung.
Now there are a handful of Din Tai Fung restaurants around the world, but this was the original. The menu was extensive with a couple of unique offerings that can't be found in the American branches of the restaurant. Truffle xiaolongs were one of them.
The truffle versions go for $15 for five pieces (expensive by xiaolongbao standards). The verdict? They were good, but I would not go for them again. The truffle pieces are mixed into the pork and really shine through, but they don't compare to the classic pork or crab xiaolongs. Xiaolongbaos are meant to be simple -- juicy, pockets of flavor. The highlight is supposed to be the juice of the dumplings, but the truffle flavor distracts.
Although these particular versions are hard to come by in New York (Red Farm sold them for $18 for a pair) we do have our fair share of fancy dumplings. Annisa, for example, serves up "seared foie gras with soup dumplings and jicama" for $18. And of course, we can't forget about Buddakkan's scrumptious edamame dumplings.
John Zhong Kitchen of Din Tai Fung