March 21, 2011 | | Comments 28

My Lunch: Chen Shanghai’s XLB at Xu’s Wonton House

This is another blog post done entirely with the iPhone, including the pictures and video.

It came as a shock to many people to learn that Wang’s had closed. I found out only last week. The new place is called Xu’s. Apparently new owner. The new lady in charge look very familiar but I just can’t remember where I had seen her before.

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So here I am trying Xu’s XLB. They call this the Baiyulan XLB which is $4 for a basket of … five XLBs.

Business is as brisk as it was when it was Wang’s. Unlike Wang who had three workers doing the pleading, they have only one.

I did notice that they still have the CRA sticker which Wang’s won the XLB award in 2010. That’s not right. :-)

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Verdict: Soup was flavorful and so was the meat. Skin is not ultra thin but who cares because the soup and meat just dominated the taste. Pretty good. However the soup was not scalding hot as most XLB should be.

I wonder where the old Wang’s is now. I tried asking the lady but she seems to be uncomfortable with my question.

Ok look at the customers … there are quite a number of people waiting in line.

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Update: I asked the lady again about where I had seen her before. I took the opportunity to ask again when I returned the basket. I think she said she was at the Bayulan (hence the name of her XLBs) on “bar-ker lu” in Richmond. I think “bar-ker lu” is Parker Road. Baiyulan is a Chinese name … anyone knows which Baiyulan it is?

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  1. Suanne says:

    I think the lady meant Chen’s on Park Road as the Chinese name for Chen is “Bai Yu Lan”.

  2. joyluckclub says:

    We heard a while back that Chen’s had been sold. BR and I go to Chen’s quite regularly.
    Food is still pretty good. The lovely waitresses are still there. Still very popular.

    The XLB have a bit thicker skin than before, but still pretty good. Lots of soup and the pork filling is nicely balanced with ginger. On our last visit, about 2 weeks ago, a man was making the dumplings.

    • Ben says:

      Hi JoyLC: Thanks for the confirmation. I felt kind of sad for Chen’s. I remember about 10 years back they were operating on the JJ Shanghai/Szechuan Delicious location. They were a humble family restaurant until they got bigger at the Park Road location. I don’t know if they had been out-muscled by the bigger Shanghainese Restos (like Shanghai River, Shanghai Wonderful, Top Shanghai, No 1 Shanghai, etc). Operating a small food court stall is a world of departure from the heydays of Chen’s Shanghai. Ben

  3. Gloria says:

    I always thought the skin was one of the most important element of a good XLB? That’s where most of the “skill” is at?
    I have a feeling the CRA won’t be theirs anymore.
    Nevertheless, I need to try and compare with the old XLB’s there.

    • LotusRapper says:

      You are right, the skin takes the most skill to perfect.

      But the quality of the filling, the soupiness (and its essence) are also part of the equation.

      IMHO, I’m not so picky on the thinness or thickness of the skin (within reason), but the meaty filling (with the right balance of texture and taste) and the soup quantity and quality are more important to me in how I judge a XLB’s overall quality. Saying this as an “armchair XLB critique”, mind you [wink] ………..

    • Buddha Girl says:

      Yea…I am extremely picky about the skin (being thin and “tight”)…but it’s only one area of element. Other areas include things like the meat used, the “soup” chunks (pork fat or agar agar), the flavor, etc….all play important factors.

  4. Eric Y says:

    OMG…Wang’s is no more? That was one of my fav cheap eats kinda place. I would always get 3 orders of XLB just for myself on each visit…2 up front, and 1 as a later order…so that my dumplings would be super hot on each bite. Sigh. I guess I’ll still give Xu’s a try. Very say day for me indeed.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Eric Y: Three orders of XLB for one person?!? That is way too much. One “loong” is more the enough for me. Since Xu’s is basically Chen’s Shanghai, their XLB is pretty good. I enjoyed it even though I must say I am not expert. Who cares right? As long as *I* enjoy it. :-)

      • Eric Y says:

        Hi Ben,

        I go on an empty tummy mind you. And plus I don’t eat like this all the time. ;) I’ve done it a couple times, since the XLB price for each steamie order is quite reasonable. I guess I should not mention that I sometimes have a 2x order of XLB, plus the TW beef noodle from the shop beside it…hehe. Luckily my gluttony is intermittent.

  5. LotusRapper says:

    “I would always get 3 orders of XLB just for myself on each visit…2 up front, and 1 as a later order”

    Wow, so that’s why they have that huge mound of XLB filling on the counter …… they’re gettin’ ready for you, Eric ! lol

  6. Eric Y says:

    I admit I go overboard on XLB orders ;) Can’t help it, with the hot golden juices and all. But the trick is that I don’t order any other things to deter my appetite, like drinks and fillers. I did proclaim to my wife that if I ever had to settle for a last meal, XLB will be it. Now you know how much I love a good XLB. My heart hates me for it though.

    • LotusRapper says:

      I admit I could easily eat two steamers of XLB (6 in each) given the opportunity. They aren’t all the filling, really, and ought to be savoured slowly. Good strategy ….. honing in on the XLBs and not eat other “non-essential” items. However I would prefer a cold glass of soy milk to wash all that juicy greasy goodness down the hatch ! :-)

    • mo says:

      I eat at least 4 or 5 each time, so I usually tell my family to get one order (loong) for me. I like to nibble a bit so I can pour the juices out, dip it in a bit of vinegar and eat it in no more than two bites. The reason why I have to have at least 4 is for collecting the fatty juices and then dip noodles in it or just drink it (which I always regret when it’s keeping me up at night because my tummy feels so heavy from drinking fat).

  7. Crispy Lechon says:

    Sorry to hear that Mrs. Chen is no longer operating the Chen’s Shanghai in Richmond. They were very busy and popular when they first started. Not sure what happened. In my visits there I thought they were pretty consistent with their food. I guess its hard to compete with all the number of Shanghainese restaurants in Richmond. Mrs. Chen was always well dressed whenever she was in the restaurant.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Crispy: Mrs Chen does dress very well doesn’t she? When she was still on No 3 Road, she was simpler and when Chen’s opened we saw a very different and elegant Mrs Chen. Ben

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Noo!!! Wang’s was my go-to place for XLB :(

  9. agingteen says:

    Oh what happnened to Wang’s?!??!I was just there last month and now they are gone?!/ that is kind of sad. Strangest thing is, they had very brisk business.
    I think I will try Xu’s though because as you mentioned it is now owned by the owner of Chen’s and I never got the opportunity to try Chen’s even though I have heard it was very good.

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