Jan 20

Henrys Taiwan Kitchen

Xiao Long Bao Seattle: How to Eat Soup Dumplings

by Henrys Taiwan Kitchen

Learn the art and technique of eating Shanghai’s famed xiao long bao.

Want to go out for xiao long bao in Seattle? Although xiao long bao are referred to as dumplings outside of China, they’re actually buns. Also known as soup dumplings, xiao long bao are a type of steamed bun from Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai in the Jiading district. The city of Shanghai has become synonymous with xiao long bao, which literally means “little basket buns”. They are steamed in bamboo baskets and served hot, possibly with a side of clear soup.

Xiao long bao are savory, soup-filled buns that typically contain pork. Other popular fillings include minced crabmeat or roe. Traditionally, xiao long bao are served as dim sum or a snack. They are typically served in groups of four to eight on a bed of dried leaves, on a woven mat, or on a bed of napa cabbage. The buns are eaten after being dipped in Chinese black vinegar with shredded ginger.

A quintessential part of Shanghai cuisine, xiao long bao are now popular in many other parts of Asia, including Taiwan. In fact, one of the world’s most famous xiao long bao makers, Din Tai Fung, is from Taiwan. The thin-skinned buns contain jelly-like aspic, which melts into a broth when the buns are steamed. The broth is what makes xiao long bao so fun and challenging to eat. It’s not uncommon to see diners new to xiao long bao breaking their dumplings, staining their shirts, or worse, scalding their tongues with the hot broth.

How to Eat Xiao Long Bao

Here are the steps to successfully eating xiao long bao, so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of friends, family, or colleagues when going out for xiao long bao in Seattle:

  1. Pour black vinegar onto the shredded ginger.
  2. Lift the xiao long bao out of the steamer basket by the topknot, which is the strongest part. The goal is to avoid breaking the bun’s wrapper.
  3. Use your spoon to support the bun when lifting it out, if necessary.
  4. Gently dip the bun into the vinegar.
  5. Lift the xiao long bao back up and rest it on your spoon.
  6. Take a tiny bite out of the xiao long bao wrapper and suck out the broth or drip the broth out onto your spoon to sip from there.
  7. Add vinegar and ginger to the rest of the dumpling and eat it!

Follow these steps and you’ll no longer have to deal with broken dumplings and other dining mishaps when eating xiao long bao.  

Try Xiao Long Bao in Seattle

Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen is a renowned Taiwanese restaurant with three locations in Seattle as well as a restaurant in Tempe, Arizona. If you’re looking for great Taiwanese food in Seattle or Tempe, look no further than Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen. Our award-winning eatery has received numerous positive reviews in major publications like the Seattle Times, Zagat, Urban Spoon, and Seattle Magazine. Visit one of our restaurants today to try our xiao long bao and other mouthwatering dishes!