Xiao long bao, Shanghai-style soup dumplings, are primary objects of desire in the San Gabriel Valley, hermetically sealed demi-orbs filled with minced pork and potentially lethal doses of scalding-hot juice. Sometimes the soup dumplings will be enriched with homeopathically tiny doses of fresh crabmeat; sometimes they are served with Chinese black vinegar of a quality that will make you curl your lip at the thought of mere Modenese balsamic. Most connoisseurs will point you toward the precision-engineered product of Din Tai Fung, the local branch of a Taipei restaurant renowned for its XLB. And it is true: You could examine a hundred orders of the thin-walled, elastic dumplings without encountering a single instance of leakage. Microchip manufacturers could learn something from Din Tai Fung’s quality control. But the dumplings I find myself yearning for more often than not are the lumpy, soulful beauties at Mei Long Village, honest dumplings that may occasionally fall apart on their way from the steamer to your spoon but taste fully, resoundingly of pig.
301 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, ?(626) 284-4769.