Xiao Lung Bao, The World’s Most Perfect Food

If you’re in Taiwan, you must stop by Din Tai Fung. World famous for their soup dumplings or Xiao Lung Bao. Although they have outlets in China, Hong Kong and La, the best dumplings can only be had in the original Taipei outlet.The key to Xiao Lung Bao is the skin. It must be delicate, thin and almost transparent. I think the reason why they are so good in Taipei must be the local water used to make the dough. I guess it’s similar to a New York bagel, you just can’t find a better one anywhere else.
Great food is not just about taste but about the experience of eating it. The aroma, the texture and the way it’s eaten are all really important factors. I think soup dumplings are one of the world’s most perfect items of food in that sense. Once you dip it in the vinegar and ginger sauce and bite through the tender skin, the soup inside gushes into your mouth providing the perfect amount of moisture for the succulent meat inside. Your taste buds experience so much in such a tiny little package. Although most prefer their dumplings with crab roe added to the pork, they are a bit more oily and fishy tasting, I prefer the plain pork ones.

This is where the magic happens. The guy in the foreground is breaking off the pieces of dough that will make up the fine, delicate skin. The guys in the middle ground are wrapping the skin around the little bud of pork on the inside. In the background you can see the steamers piled high to the ceiling next to the guy working the steamer. The turn over is incredible. Hungry?