Best xiao long bao in Hong Kong
Chain restaurants are generally nothing special but Crystal Jade bucks the trend. Its xiao long bao are consistently tasty. They don’t skimp on the filling, and the vinegar they stock is pleasingly tart as an accompaniment. The chain has also created a version this year that features diced abalone that’s well worth a look if you’re hungry for something a bit more decadent.
Another chain, albeit of the Michelin-starred variety. This Taiwanese import isn’t that different from Crystal Jade in that it offers consistently delicious xiao long bao. It also offers alternative takes on the classic, like a chicken xiao long bao, but we advise you to stick with the pork ones. They’re precision-made, meaty and flooded with a delightful broth.
Liu Yuan Pavilion has its xiao long bao down to a science. The broth inside each dumpling is rich and flavourful, with fatty goodness filling your mouth on the first bite. The crab roe used to garnish the dumplings provides an extra twist to its tried-and-true formula. Also of special note: the restaurant offers special hairy crab xiao long bao when in season, with the pork within laced with mouth-watering crab and cream.
Specialising in fusion dim sum, this restaurant serves up foie gras inside its xiao long bao. The dumpling skin is exquisitely thin. In line with the restaurant’s general creativity, staff advise you to sprinkle sea salt over the top of the dumpling instead of the usual vinegar and ginger. If you’re looking for xiao long bao as you’ve never experienced it before, Man Mo should be on your hit list.
If variety is the spice of life, Paradise Dynasty is the spiciest entry on our list, offering no less than eight different variations on its signature xiao long bao. The dumplings come with pork, cheesy, Sichuan, garlic, ginseng, crab roe, black truffle and foie gras fillings, each with a skin that's coloured differently. While the colourful exteriors help up the novelty factor, the flavours are where these dumplings really stand out, with the broth being light and tasty and the skin being paper thin.
If you like your xiao long bao to be perfectly formed and as easy on the eyes as on the tastebuds, then Shanghai Lane may not be for you. We think taste is king though, and in that department, this homey Gough Street resto is a classy affair. In particular, the broth used is wonderfully aromatic, elevating it above lesser, hum-drum dumplings.
The mark of quality with xiao long bao often starts with the thinness of the wrapping. On that alone, Xia Fei Society’s dumplings are top of the pile. These suckers are so thin they’re practically transparent. It’s impressive but it does mean that extra care and supreme chopstick skills are required to avert breaking the skin.
If you want to dine somewhere slightly more refined, the Michelin-starred Yè Shanghai is for you. Housed in the Marco Polo Hotel, the Shanghainese fare here is top-notch and the xiao long bao even more so. Delicately wrapped in a thin skin, these bad boys are seriously addictive, and the generous serving of broth – although messy – is very much welcome.
It’s not the only bao we love...
Whether you’re dining on the traditional fluffy, steamed variety or the crisp, baked type, a sweet, meaty char siu bao is irresistible. Everyone has their favourite but here are seven of the absolute best in Hong Kong.