Go to any LA Foodie blog or message board, do a search on XLB or "Soupy Dumplings" and there's one restaurant name that will pop up over and over again; Mei Long Village. Mei Long Village has a reputation for the best XLB in the San Gabriel Valley. Tasting Table just did a blog on XLB and prominently mentioned Mei Long Village. With that much buzz it was only a matter of time before I checked it out myself.
So that's how I found myself sitting down for lunch one Saturday ordering the "Shanghai Steamed Dumplings" and the "Crab and Pork Steamed Dumplings." First thing I noticed was that it was nearly deserted on a Saturday near noon. Of all the spots on my Dumpling Hunt, this was the least busy I'd been to. Din Tai Fung, Mama's Lu, Luscious Dumplings were all slammed by comparison. There was just one other family eating with me the entire time. Something was up. Places that are supposed to serve the best anything aren't usually dead on a Saturday at noon.
I received my order. First thing I should clarify is that Tasting Table gets the prices wrong. The XLB or Shanghai Dumplings aren't $5.50 for 10 they're $5.95 for 10 and they don't have crab filling in them. The pork and crab dumplings are $6.95 for 8.
First the XLB. Tasting Table says the skins are very thin and prone to breakage. Now I don't wield the most gentle set of chopsticks around but I was still able to finish all 20 of my Din Tai Fung dumplings without a single break. This batch I lost two transferring them to my soup spoon. But worse than that there were at least three dumplings that had holes in the bottom so had no soup to lose. Half my order of soupy dumplings had no soup. Not to accuse anyone, but fresh made wrappers are pliable and less apt to break. It certainly appears as if the batch I got either was left to dry out or else was made with dry (pre-made) wrappers. Neither a good sign.
So how were the 5 dumplings that had soup in them. They were all right. They're weren't bad but they were hardly transcendent. To be honest I greatly prefer the dumplings at Din Tai Fung or Mama's Lu.
As for the pork and crab dumplings, they were good. If there was supposed to be soup inside then I got a completely botched batch. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were supposed to just regular dumplings. They tasted good. There was a taste of crab. But just a taste. You shouldn't go in expecting to chunks of Alaskan King mixed in with your dumplings.
All in all a pretty disappointing lunch given what I had heard. Now I will be going back to Mei Long Village for dinner. I want to try their braised pork leg (called Pork Pump on the menu)and the fish tails and a few other items. But as a lunch spot and a dumpling spot, it's off my list. And from the looks of things when I was there, I suspect I'm not the only one who's written the place off.