How to Eat a Soup Dumpling (a.k.a. Xiao Long Bao)

We asked Lilly Jan, a certified XLB expert, for a few pointers.

Filled with ground pork (and sometimes crab), these thin-skinned parcels (pronounced shao-long-bow) also contain a heap of jellylike aspic, which melts into a broth upon steaming—making them both the most challenging, and fun, dumplings to eat. We asked Lilly Jan, a certified XLB expert (she wrote her BU gastronomy-program graduate thesis on the subject), for a few pointers. (Tip: Eat XLBs immediately after they arrive at the table, or the broth will begin to congeal.)

Illustrations by Liz Noftle

how to eat a soup dumpling

1. Fill your soup spoon with a base layer of Chinese black vinegar. With your chopsticks, pick up the dumpling by the pleated tip and place it in the spoon.

how to eat a soup dumpling

2. Bite off an opening in the top to release steam from the dumpling, then stuff a sliver or two of ginger inside.

how to eat a soup dumpling

3. Count to five (so you don’t burn your mouth), and slurp the whole thing at once.


For more on Asian cuisine in Boston and all things dumplings, check out our complete guide to Asian cuisine: Umami Rising.