Xiao long bao, better known here in the United States as soup dumplings, are edible pieces of craftsmanship that take years to perfect. Originating from a village in Shanghai called Nanxiang, each xiao long bao provides a savory burst of soup and juicy pork or crab that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for an iconic restaurant to enjoy traditional xiao long bao at, look no further than Koi Palace. Located just outside of San Francisco, this formerly Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant has become a mainstay for locals who regularly return to order authentic Chinese food, including xiao long bao.
While Koi Palace may be revered for its tradition, the restaurant isn't afraid to spin some modern takes on classics. Their Five Flavor Xiao Long Bao, which preserves Nanxiang tradition whilst adding some visual pop for our Instagram feeds, has become so desired that Koi Palace's sister restaurants, such as the millennial-populated Dragon Beaux, regularly feature the item as well.
Each dumpling is given the same intricate attention that all of the xiao long bao at Koi Palace receive. However, four of the five dumplings contain natural flavors and colors that are strikingly different from the original, such as spinach juice and kale for the green dumpling. The rest of the unique flavors and colors can be seen in the above video.
While the Five Flavor Xiao Long Bao may seem like a gimmick to those who just glance at a picture of it, they are Michelin-quality delights that deserve the same level of respect as the xiao long bao you can still find in Nanxiang.
Just remember to add black vinegar, ginger, and take the whole thing down in one bite. That's how you get the true Xiao Long Bao experience, whether it be colored to appeal to social media or not.