Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rabbit Ginger Sausage

Just one of the many pleasures ground meat and seasoning link up to be a killer combination.
Not to mention being a great 10min dinner.

This particular sausage was made possible by the guys at D'Artagnan.

Putain C'est Bon!


If anything, they get an "A" for comic relief.

This cracks me up everytime.

Friday, July 30, 2010


There's something about grilling your own meats and then to top it off by melting marshmallows to make your own s'mores right at the table.
Gyu Kaku gives you that luxury right in the city.

Urban convenience, nostalgic memories.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meatball Report

It's no surprise us Dudes love a good meatball.
We've had meatball themed parties before and probably will have another one before the summer is over.

Well, this just in. Special Correspondent.. the Cardinal (Richelieu) is reporting days after his move to his new pad in Midtown East. Target acquired. Time to dance.

Mia Dona
206 E 58th St, New York NY10022
(Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

They claim to have the best meatballs in town. We are waiting for the verdict Card.
Let us know what you think...

Here are some pictures taken during some walk-bys...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Garden of Eatin' Blue Corn Taco Shells

We had taco night over the weekend and I was craving some hard shell tacos. Although I never saw any hard shell tacos any where in Mexico, I still have a soft spot for them after many a trip in high school to taco hell.

Any who, most hard shell tacos are pretty terrible - stale, thick, and absolutely no flavor. We tried using the Garden of Eatin' taco shells since we dig the chips so much. These have great flavor and amazing texture - really light with some great crispiness. Unfortunately they're ridiculously fragile and almost every single one fell apart. The ones that didn't end up falling apart did so after filling them up with ingredients. Definitely not recommended and the search continues.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brewing in Japan: Interview with Bryan Baird of Baird Beer

Earlier this month during a trip to Japan, I traveled to the coastal city of Numazu to visit Baird Brewing Company, one of the country's most innovative new craft breweries. When I arrived, I had the fortune to meet Bryan and Sayuri Baird, who founded the brewery in 2000. Bryan answered some questions about brewing in Japan:

After graduating from Johns Hopkins SAIS, what inspired you to get into the brewing business and why Japan?

I attended SAIS in the Japan Studies program and enrolled with the full intent of returning to Japan in some professional capacity upon graduation. My first job was with the Tokyo office of the American Electronics Association. Craft beer, or ji-biiru as it was called, was receiving great attention in Japan at the time because it was a brand new thing—small-scale brewing was made possible with deregulation that happened during the Hosokawa government in which minimum production requirements necessary for a brewing license were lowered dramatically from 2000 kl per year to 60 kl. I didn't love working as a sarariman (salary man); I always had been a passionate beer drinker; and I respected Japanese society for the reverence it paid to craftsmanship. Therefore, I felt that craft beer was an industry that suited both me and Japan.

Why did you choose to locate your brewery in the city of Numazu?

After attending brewing school in California, my first industry job with a brewing equipment company brought me to Numazu. Our ultimate dream, of course, was to launch our own craft brewing company. For a variety of reasons, we judged Numazu to be a very good place to inaugurate a craft beer business. We thus stayed and here we still are today.

How did your initial brewing learning process take place?

The first thing I did, and the smartest, was to immediately enroll in brewing school. I attended the American Brewers Guild's 3-month intensive brewing science and engineering program, which also combined with a practical apprenticeship. My apprenticeship was done at the Redhook Brewery in Seattle. I thus had very good initial training. Being a good brewer, though, is very much dependent on the interplay of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. To gain more practical experience I cobbled together a tiny brewing system out of re-welded used kegs, set it up on our veranda and began brewing pilot batch after pilot batch. This was the actual system with which we launched our original brewery-pub. It was so tiny (30-liter batches) that I had to brew with great frequency and this helped me to accrue invaluable experience in a very short time.

Who were your inspirations?

My greatest business inspiration is Warren Buffet. The principles and values he espouses I embrace wholeheartedly.

Which breweries do you admire most?

Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco (although he just recently sold the business) and Ken Grossman of Sierre Nevada Brewing in Chico, California are probably my two biggest industry heroes. Some of my favorite breweries now include Russian River, Firestone Walker, and Victory. Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Chicago and the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Oregon are two outstanding brewery-pubs.

What is your beer's concept?

With each and every Baird Beer we seek to craft a full-flavored beer of character. We define character simply: Character is the interplay of balance and complexity. Industrial beer tends to be well balanced (i.e. it can be drunk in quantity without inducing palate fatigue) but fully lacking in complexity (i.e. the flavor is one-dimensional and you pretty much know everything about the beer upon the first sip). Poorly made craft beer tends to be complex but it lacks balance. Great craft beer possesses both. For us, the key to achieving this character is minimal processing. Therefore, we begin by selecting ingredients that are minimally processed (e.g. traditional floor-malted barley, whole flower hops, fresh whole fruit, etc.). Then, we strive to brew with these ingredients in as simple and unprocessed a way as possible (e.g. we do not filter Baird Beer and we secondarily ferment and naturally carbonate it in the package from which it will be dispensed—much like Champagne).

How is the beer Japanese?

We enjoy lovely soft water in Numazu that really contributes a round and balanced house character to our beers. In the Japanese esthetic, harmonious balance is greatly prized. I think Baird Beer is a liquid embodiment of that Japanese esthetic value.

What were some of the initial challenges you overcame as a microbrewer in Japan?

Japanese ji-biiru (craft beer) boomed out of the gate in 1994 but was already turning into a bust by the time we were getting into it around 1997. There was, and still is, simply too much bad craft beer in Japan and not enough really good stuff. Thus, we had to overcome the largely negative image that the industry garnered for itself in its initial years. The other major challenge was simply that we were brewing a kind of beer that had never really existed in Japan before and people really didn't know what to make of it and us. The key to growing sales in a nascent market like craft beer in Japan is, in addition to great product, constant consumer education. The more that consumers understand about beer and about how and why we approach it the way we do, the more open they are to the experience. This sort of education, though, takes time and requires persistence.

Is it easier for a foreigner to introduce a revolutionary product like microbrewery beer to Japan?

That's a good question. My answer is yes, so long as it is the right foreigner. By "right" I mean someone who comprehensively understands Japan, who can deal with Japanese people with cultural, social and lingustic understanding, and who genuinely likes and respects Japan. This is the type of foreigner that places like Johns Hopkins SAIS help to nurture. When you are this type of foreigner you get to participate in Japanese society on a deep and meaningful level but without having to face the same sort and degree of social and cultural constrictions that the Japanese themselves must often deal with. This kind of social liberation can be turned into a very valuable business asset.

How did your business start to take off?

The initial turning point for our business happened 2–3 years into it when we realized there was a definite market for what we were brewing, only it wasn't in Numazu but rather in Tokyo. This led us to purchase larger brewing equipment and begin bottling and kegging our beer for distribution in the Tokyo market. The more we sold in Tokyo, the more frequently Tokyo beer enthusiasts would make the pilgrimage to our pub in Numazu. This eventually led us to open pubs in Tokyo itself. By doing well in Tokyo and selling throughout Japan, the local market then began to wake up. Finally, ten years into it, we seem to have gained real traction and achieved that magical sort of critical mass. Our three gold medals in the 2010 World Beer Cup certainly didn't hurt things either.

What is the current state of the Japanese big beer and microbrewery market?

The big industrial brewers in Japan are in for some dark years, I am afraid. The simple fact is the overall Japan beer market is shrinking. This is because the population is both aging and not growing. As one gets older, one drinks less. I would not want to be an industrial brewer in Japan. As for craft beer in Japan, there are still way too many sub-par players. These poor performers need to be weeded out and this is happening gradually.

What do you see for the future of beer in Japan?

For good Japan craft brewers, as well as importers of excellent world craft beers, I believe the future is bright. People seem to be wanting more quality if not more quantity, and there seems to be at least a partial movement away from purely mass-produced and mass-marketed goods to premium niche goods crafted by shokunin (artisans). Currently in Japan, craft beer does not account for even 1 percent of the overall beer market. U.S. craft beer, on the other hand, accounts for more than 4 percent of the U.S. market by volume and more than 7 percent by dollar. I can see Japan craft beer achieving similar numbers in the Japan beer market within the next 10–20 years.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in Japan?

My advice is quite simple: Possess abundant reserves of passion, persistence, perseverance, integrity, and guts. Also, possessing sufficient "Japan skill" is critical to succeeding in business in Japan. Frankly, these Japan skills take longer and are harder to acquire than most industry-specific skills. Most foreign business people who do not do well here fail because of insufficiency on the Japan skill front.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rice and .....

Some of you have been following me on facebook and probably wondering what I did with the miso marinaded Foie Gras.

Well here is one dish I thought made complete sense and truly rocked my world.
I will probably be dishing this up at an event I host at the Japanese Culinary Center later this year. Completely SUBLIME if I do say so myself.

Beef Steak and Foie Gras Donburi

Ingredients :
1# Skirt Steak
3oz Foie Gras (Fresh and marinaded in a Saikyo Miso and Sake mixture)
1/2 Onion
1 clove Garlic
Sake to deglaze
1/4 C Chicken Stock
1T Butter

Season and pan sear the skirt steak to Medium Rare and set aside.
Marinade Foie Gras and wash away marinade. Slice to 1/2 inch medallions and pan sear.
Set aside.

In pan, sautee onions and minced garlic for a minute and deglaze with sake. When liquid is evaporated, add stock. Reduce, season to taste and add 1T butter to thicken.

In a hot bowl of rice, slice skirt steak against the grain and fan out. Place pan seared foie gras on top and spoon over pan sauce.
Serve hot. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hong Kong / Shanghai 2010 Wrap Up

My return visit to the Motherland in about 20 years and the food definitely kicked some massive ars. I can't say enough at how shocked I was at the balance of flavors (salty, sweet, sour, umami) - stuff that I have never seen States side. Any who, a great time and I've already picked up some flavor profiles/cooking techniques always a good sign that the food kicked ars on our trip.

Goals for the next Shanghai / Hong Kong trip (besides Ho Hung Kee and Yang's Fry Dumpling)
  1. Go to a full on Cantonese style banquet with more people in Hong Kong - I feel that's where I can get the best Hong Kong has to offer
  2. Find the best dim sum place in HK. Maxim's was very solid, but I think there is probably better out there.
  3. See if there are any better xlb joints in Shanghai. Although Jia Jia Tang Bao was solid, I'm hoping there are better places.
  4. Get more Dong Po Rou!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Perfect dinner on a hot summer night.

Cook Zen - Not your mom's Microwave Meals

The day has come folks.. when the Microwave can pretty much make full meals...
This picture attached is an example of 3 different types of curries made with a "microwave safe" pot invented in Japan. 
(Shrimp Curry, Chicken Curry, and Vegetable Curry)

I participated in a PR event in Manhattan the other day and had the opportunity to watch what this product claims to do. 
Now the lady who has her name on the product is a character and pretty annoying to tell you the truth.  It took a while to get used to her because she is a terrible speaker, and just really really grouchy.
And you could tell the staff working with her during the event clearly didn't like her. 
It would make complete sense if someone told me she was a Scientologist... (Yeah, that awkward)

She claims her invention saves time and it also promotes a healthy way of living. 

I've seen my fare share of salesman and this is no more than a gimmick. 
To tell you the truth, everything you can do in this Microwave Pot, one could easily do on the stove in a steel pot and probably yield a better product. 
There is absolutely no need to drop $80 and another $20 for her cookbook.  (this product is promoted by the same publicist as Rachel Ray... 'nuff said)

I am not convinced one bit, microwaving food for 10 minutes in a polypropylene container is "healthy" cooking. 
I've asked materials scientists, and also industrial design majors who have taken classes in plastics.  And they all unequivocally tell me, microwaving foods in plastics is not a good idea.  No matter what kinds of plastics they are, there will be harmful contamination traceable in your foods. 

Here are some of the comparative results :
All chopping and peeling times are the same so not counted in this measure.

Microwave Chicken Curry : 12 min in the Microwave
Stove top Curry Chicken : 15min on medium high

Microwave Shrimp Curry : 8min in the Microwave
Stove top Shrimp Curry : 10min in a conventional steel pot

In the end, there is not much difference.  The benefits are trivial and not worth the hype in my humble opinion. 

I'm not calling this product a piece of $%#*, but somebody did, and I'm not refuting it. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pollo Tropical

I'm thinking of starting a new genre of food reviews that falls under $10 a meal.
One can make the argument it's unfair to compare a bucket of hot wings and beer to a t-bone steak and a glass of zin.
Both hit the spot right where it counts. And yet the steak could be 5x more than the wings.

So for my inaugural post, I've Picked this new (for me) chain that serves up some delicious grilled chicken. It's usually found within a stone's toss from White Castle or Pizza Hut.
Meaning you won't find this next to Lord and Taylor's at the mall.

KFC, or should I say KGC has nothing on these guys. Pollo Tropical all the way.

Well needless to say, my $8.49 was well spent here and I can't wait to go back and try their other lunch combos.

Fu 1088 - Review

Fu 1088 - Highly Recommended
375 Zhenning Lu, Changning District, Shanghai
Phone: 86-21-5239-7878

Our friend Joyce hooked us up with this recommendation in Shanghai and it rocked. Funny thing in Shanghai is there are a ton of fancy restaurants in these old ars mansions. This place is straight out of a time warp, but the quality of food is very good and the food is supposedly Shanghainese but it seems like there's a modern twist to everything. Either way the food tastes great!

When you first walk in, it literally looks like someone's old house but it feels like it could be straight out of Ghost Hunters since it has that creepy feel to it. Then you're brought into your own private dining room - all tables are in their own closed rooms. The only problem is it smells slightly moldy which seem to be a problem all over Asia because of the humidity. Not god awful, but slightly noticeable. Service is excellent and they are rocking the tuxes there, but there is no dress code for the customers. Any who - solid place, but be sure to go with a big group since they require each person to spend at least $45 USD which is a lot of food.

Our Menu

Tea Egg with Caviar **
Such a delicate flavor with a slight smokiness to the egg. Add the bright caviar and it was such a nice balance and a great way to start the meal.

Drunken Chicken with Xiao Xing Wine Ice *
Chicken had great wine flavor, though the texture was a tad tough. The xiao xing wine ice was a bit too gimicky for me and didn't really add much to the dish. It actually messed with the texture to as the icey texture made the meat seem slightly tougher.

Fried Smoked River Fish ***
These were a definite wtf dish - amazing balance. Crispy, smoky, slightly sweet and surprisingly tender fish. It was sooo good, but I wish we had more people to share this dish since they gave a bunch and although balance - that much sweet food is hard to eat after a while.

Marinated Soy Fish *
These seemed so similar to the miso cod at Nobu, but less sweet and also less tender. Still tasty though.

Pork Belly in Red Sauce ***
I don't believe these were labeled as dong po rou, but they tasted very similar and this might be the best rendition I've had of this dish. Again, the word balance is key here as the meat was completely tender with the fat rendering perfectly. The sauce was slightly sweet, but not grossly so and as usual this was ridiculous with rice. The complexity of the five spice was evident to as this wasn't just sweetness here. Again, I wish I had more people here since there are 9 pieces of belly and I ate 6 of them...I know a bit gross, but I do dig me some pork belly.

Prawns in Tomato Sauce ---
Pretty disappointing considering how great everything else was. Prawn had no flavor and was not very tender and the sauce was completely overpowering. My favorite part of whole prawns is sucking the brains out and sadly there was not that much flavor as it was masked by this ketchup based sauce.

Shanghai Vegetables **
Nice delicate balance of textures and flavors. A great vegetable dish that was nice and crisp, but still soft enough. Flavor was almost like a mix of water crest, spinach, and snow pea tips.

Vegetable and Truffle Dumplings **
Another gimicky dish, but still incredibly delicious. The vegetable was similar to the shanghai vegetable, but you don't really sense the truffles in the dish. Still really fun to eat though and a great dumpling - perfectly folded and the texture of the skin was phenomenal.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
A great place to eat, but I wouldn't go if it were just two people. There is way too much food and would be best shared with a lot of people. This place was much more refined than Xi Garden, but I kinda dug Xi Garden more from a flavor perspective.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Xi Garden - Review

Xi Garden - Highly Recommended
1 Dongping Rd, Shanghai, China
Phone: 86-21-6474-7052

Our friend Paulina recommended this place and as usual her recommendations were spot on. This will go down as one of the best Chinese food experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never had Chinese food like this where they were balancing the salt, pepper, sour, and sweetness in such perfect harmony. It was like Thai food, but done so much more delicately and harmoniously - not an intense thai kick to the ribs but more like tai chi chuan form practice. The interesting thing about this place is they mix some western ingredients/techniques in their dishes. Macaroni salad anyone?

Any who the food was pretty damn awesome, but the environment was less than desirable. Like many fancy restaurants in Shanghai, this was situated in an old school mansion where there are private rooms to eat in. Where we ate was the main dining area and unfortunately the Chinese love their cigarettes which can ruin a meal. Thank goodness the ones smoking near us left early on in the meal. Still a phenomenal food experience and I would recommend getting a private room if you have a large enough group.

Our Menu
Mushy Peas *
This dish was interesting and good to eat - a specialty of the place. Basically, peas completely pureed with some sugar and what felt like some oil. It was surprisingly pretty good with the pine nuts mixed in.

Jelly Fish and Cabbage Salad ***

This was a complete WTF revelation to me in terms of the sweet, sour, rich, and saltiness balance that was done so well. This almost felt like a Mexican salad to me with the crunchy cabbage, carrots, and Chinese parsley (like cilantro). The rich sauce was what turned it Chinese though and it was so good I was drinking that sauce down. It had such a rich flavor (massive umami) which I have no idea where it came from – probably MSG I assume? Either way it just completely rocked.

Sauteed Shrimp **
Another amazing dish with these baby shrimps cooked so perfectly – completely succulent and sweet. Add this to the subtle vinegar soy concoction and it was sublime. Again, not intense in the vinegar and salt, but just subtly enhancing the shrimp.

Crab Fried Rice ***
The best fried rice dish I’ve ever had. How they turned this lowly every man food into something as superb as this I have no idea. The flavor and the texture of the rice was spectacular with crab flavor flowing all throughout the rice. The best was finding the crab tamale sprinkled all throughout the rice for a nice intense pop. They actually had the entire crab cut into pieces all throughout this dish and it was cooked perfectly – the best crab flavor and intensely sweet and moist.

Pepper Beef ***

The first thing I noticed is how masterful this sauce was. Great pepper flavor throughout that was balanced by a slight sweetness and intense meaty flavor. The meat was so tender and perfectly cooked throughout. Again, balance was the key thing here and it was perfect. I wish all pepper beef in the states could be like this.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
This was a meal for the ages and made me wonder why this style of food does not catch on in the States. Chinese foodie street cred seem to only exist for the low end dive joints – never any high end Chinese food places. Any who, a phenomenal place and 100% want to go back with more peeps.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Welch's Grape Jelly

Goofin' off with some chefs and getting compliments on a surprising discovery. Shockingly DELICIOUS.
(Don't knock it till you try it)
You may see this on the menu in Atlantic City folks. LOL.

I want to garnish with some peanut powder on the side. And maybe with some chervil.

Ji Shi - Review

Ji Shi (aka Jesse) - Recommended
41 Tianping Road, Shanghai, China
Phone: 86-(0)21-6282-9260

Went to the Chow boards to figure out where else to go in Shanghai and everyone resoundingly recommends Ji Shi. This is a really tiny joint that was filled with all Chinese people although most were tourists from Hong Kong or Taiwan. The waiter was extremely helpful as he ordered all the dishes for us and the food was generally pretty good. Now, I’m not sure what the chowhounders were eating since the food was good, but not mind blowing like everyone was saying. Still recommended though.

Our Menu
Ji Shi Salt Cured Chicken *
Your standard Chinese salt cured chicken recipe. These had good chicken flavor, but was nothing really to rave about. Meat was not tender, but when it's cured they rarely are. Good with rice.

Tofu Skin and Vegetable **

A perfect home style dish with a great combination of texture and flavors. The tofu skin had some slight chew which paired well with the soft vegetable (maybe spinach?). Nice and light flavors which was a great change of pace from the Cantonese vegetables cooked with chicken stock.

Tofu Skin in Chili Oil **
My favorite dish from this place. Again perfect tofu skin texture that is sitting in this chili oil that surprisingly isn’t too heavy and isn’t too oily. The tofu skin takes on the floral perfume from the chili and is so damn good to eat with rice.

Vegetable Fried Rice **
My wife loves her some fried rice, so we had to order this dish. Basically some Chinese sausage and some wilted greens cooked in. Like most fried rice we've had on this trip, the vegetable flavor permeates every single rice kernel which is so damn fun to eat.

Drunken Shrimp
We had to send this dish back since it was a little too intense for us - the waiter ordered for us. Basically raw tiny shrimp doused in Chinese rice wine and marinating for a long ars time. The wine was so boozy that it was hard to eat. The game is to put the whole bugger in your mouth and start chewing to extract the flavor out. Crunchy and you get a little ama ebi sweet thang going on, but it ends up being way too boozy.

Chili Crab and Shrimp *

Pieces of crab and shrimp were battered and deep fried covered with chilis and peanuts. The crab and shrimp had great flavor taking on the chili’s perfectly, but both the crab and shrimp were overcooked. The flavor was so good though, that it didn’t matter that much and went perfectly with the rice. The interesting thing is the shrimp skin was fried crispy so it actually became edible and was like a shrimp chip.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
The food is definitely pretty fun and comforting, but I don't get it in term of the internets raving about this place. Any who pretty solid and I would check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yang's Fry Dumpling - Review

Yang's Fry Dumpling - Highly Recommended
Yuyuan Lu 85, Shanghai
Phone: 021-6355-4206

I came to Shanghai looking for the best xiao long bao and what I ended up finding instead was the best dumpling I've ever had - not xiao long bao btw. Yang's Fry Dumpling serves up Shen Jian Bao which is basically a fried pork dumpling with a skin that is thicker than xiao long bao, but in a very appealing way. This was my favorite street food item in Taipei and I was insanely happy to find it here in Shanghai.

Located across the street from Jia Jia Tang Bao, Yang's Fry Dumpling sports a similar line for takeout - expect to wait a good 30 minutes as well. But, me being me I decided to check this place out after Jia Jia Tang Bao which was around 1:45pm and there was no line to eat inside. This place was much larger than Jia Jia Tang Bao with two different floors but it still maintains that divey feel.

Our Menu
Shen Jian Bao ***
A complete WTF moment in a phenomenal way. This is an explosion of textures and flavors - nice char flavor from the frying on the bottom, nutty note from the sesames on top, ridiculous porkiness from the meat which has phenomenal texture, and the shocking explosion of broth which I was not expecting. The shen jian bao from Taipei never had the broth and I'm thinking all dumplings should have broth inside. Finally, the skin was still relatively thin, but provided the perfect vessel for all the porky goodness inside. This may have been my favorite food item from the entire trip.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
Next time I'm back in Shanghai, this is 100% the first place I'm going to go back to eat. It was so good I went to the Yang's Fry Dumpling at the food court in Nanjing Lu...oddly enough, no where near as good as this original location.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jia Jia Tang Bao - Review

Jia Jia Tang Bao - Highly Recommended
90 Huanghe Lu, Shanghai
Phone: 021-6327-6878

After the disappointing Nanxiang Mantou Dian, I went to the "internets" to find the best xlb's in Shanghai. There were two places everyone pointed to - Jia Jia Tang Bao and Din Tai Fung. Since I've been to Din Tai Fung multiple times in Taiwan, I figured I had to give Jia Jia Tang Bao a try.

This was light years better than the stuff they serve at Nanxiang Mantou dian and they were real fun to eat. These were very solid and the price was ridiculously cheap ($1.50 for 12 pork xlb!). Like all the locals say, get there early since they sometimes sell out of the pork xlb by 1pm and once they're out of everything they close shop. The place is also a tiny hole in the wall which gives it some street cred in my book, but adds to the long ars waits since it maybe seats only 30 people. We got there at 11:45am and still had to wait a good 30 minutes and the shrimp xlb was gone by then already. Any who, very solid and definitely highly recommended.

Our Menu
Pork XLB **
All facets of the XLB were pretty damn good. The meat texture was spot on, the meat flavor had a nice porky punch and the broth was excellent. The skins were much softer, but a tad to thin in my opinion. Almost like a wonton skin, but with a bit more elasticity. I dug the Din Tai Fung skins much more as they had more texture and resilience while still being very silky and not doughy at all.

Crab Meat and Roe XLB ***
These were excellent and had the same characteristics as the other ones, but with distinction of having crab meat and crab roe inside. The flavor was so intensely crabby in a wtf way. I totally dug these a lot, but you need to watch out because they come out blazing hot. These were much pricier, but well worth it ($14 for 6)

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Closing Comments
Although hella delicious, it's kinda weird that a dish that originates from this region is not as good as ones from other areas - Din Tai Fun being one and I believe I've had better ones in Grand Shanghai in NJ. One thing I noticed were the fact that only teenagers were making the xiao long bao. I assume this is to help with the profit margins, but all the masters at Din Tai Fun have been doing it for many many decades. I have to believe this affects the quality and consistency of the xlb. Any who, this place is still pretty damn fun and would highly recommend visiting if you're ever in Shanghai.