Tuesday, July 11, 2006

hu-chiang dumpling house

The Hu-chiang Dumpling House opened 6 months ago in Cupertino Village, and there have been long lines waiting for tables at lunch and dinner ever since. Lisette has been hoping that we would have a chance to try it, and Sunday night, after playing 9 holes of golf with her friends at a short but still interesting executive course, we headed off for dumplings. Of course we had to wait, but our meal was worth it.

I’m certainly not a dumpling expert but I do love Xiao long bao, steamed pork-filled dumplings perfected in Shanghai and often eaten with a little vinegar and ginger. Good Xiao long boa have three essential properties: thin skin that becomes soft when properly cooked, tasty meat sometimes mixed with chives or chopped vegetables, and abundant soup that helps steam the meat inside of the dumpling and provides a juicy treat with the first bite.

The soup inside is the best part, but it also makes Xiao long bao tricky to eat. The challenge is to lift the dumpling out of the steamer and onto a Chinese soupspoon without puncturing the skin, and even for those skillful with chopsticks it can be hard. Sometimes the dumpling’s wrapper sticks to the paper that lines the bamboo steamer and the soup leaks out. This happened to me at dinner and the table felt my pain.

The menu at Hu-chiang Dumpling House lists 6 types of dumplings (some are their own invention), and we tried all six.

Hu-chiang juicy Shanghai steamed dumplings
Steamed dumpling with crab meat paste
Steamed dumpling with loofah and shrimp
Fresh shrimp dumpling with Chinese chives
Steamed dumpling with pork and cabbage
Vegetarian dumpling with mushroom

They were all tasty, but the best (in order) were the crab meat (very juicy interior and intense crab flavor), the traditional Xiao long bao and the loofah and shrimp. I’m not sure what loofah is, but it is yummy. My least favorite was the pure vegetarian as it was dry and a bit bitter.

There are a number of very positive online reviews of the HC Dumpling House including write-ups at Jatbar and Yelp. However, a common theme, echoed by Lisette’s friends, is that many of the non-dumpling menu items are average at best. We stuck to the dumplings, and with 8 per basket we had a nicely-sized meal.

My favorite Xiao long bao are from Yank Sing, a large and well-known City restaurant. But, I can’t always make it up to SF when I have a craving. I am happy to have a high-quality substitute close by, and my pescatarian friends can take advantage of the wide variety of non-meat dumplings Hu-chiang offers.

Yank Sing: 101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA (415) 957-9300
Hu-Chiang Dumpling House 10877 N. Wolfe Rd Cupertino, CA (408) 873-4813

Bonus link: I’ve heard rumors that the Shanghai Restaurant (930 Webster St, Oakland, CA (510) 465-6878) has some great Xiao long boa. Next time I’m in Oakland’s Chinatown I’ll have to stop in and find out for myself.


At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More information about xiao long bao here in Chinese.

If you are in Shanghai, you have to try 南翔小籠包, which is the place for xiao long bao.
Or Din Tai Fung, a chain originated from Taiwan also specializes in xiao long bao.

And what is loofah?


At 6:35 PM, Anonymous DJ said...

There's also a small restaurant in San Mateo that specializes in xiao long bao called Happy Cafe. They also have very greasy (but tasty) fried rice.


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