Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – There is More Than The Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)
When I originally reviewed Nan Xiang I proclaimed it the best xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in NYC () and I still stick to that claim. However, on my latest trip I found that they have some cold appetizers that they really excel at and I’d like to highlight some of those in this review as they are really worth trying.
As I wrote in my other review, the décor is fairly simple and it is a little cramped in the restaurant, but everything is clean and fairly new looking. The service is very brisk, but generally fine. Be prepared for a wait as there is almost always a wait on a weekend. I generally think going either early or later in the afternoon is better as the prime time lunch and dinner crowd can be kind of a pain.
Here’s a picture of the cold appetizer station, which was the basis of me writing this review:
Since I described the restaurant in more detail last time, I’ll get straight into the food:
Fried Bean Gluten (Si Xian Kau Fu):
If you’ve never had wheat gluten before it looks similar to fried tofu, the texture is a spongy and by itself it tastes fairly plain. Here’s a Wikipedia article about wheat gluten (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_gluten_(food)). At Nan Xiang their preparation is a typical preparation of this cold fried wheat gluten appetizer. The wheat gluten has been fried and cooked with sliced wood ear mushrooms, shitake mushrooms and onions; all of the ingredients including the wheat gluten have been marinated in a semi-sweet soy sauce. The result is great, the semi sweet sauce goes really well with everything and it tastes great. The version here is very good and pretty similar to what you get in Asia. 8/10
Cold Smoked Tofu (Dou Gan Si):
This is another appetizer that is pretty common in places like Shanghai and Taiwan. It is a smoked tofu that kind of looks like a block of cheese if you didn’t know what it was as it is brown on the outside and a creamy off white color inside. They slice it into thin slices then toss it with sesame oil, chopped cilantro and some salt. While it sounds plain, it’s actually delicious and flavorful. I love the texture and simple flavor of dou gan (smoked tofu). The version here is done nicely. 7.75/10
Sliced Dried Pig Ear in Red Oil (Er Duo):
While pig ear sounds kind of gross, it’s actually very mild tasting and delicious when done right. The problem with pig ear is that if you prepare it wrong the texture is too hard and chewy, however they do it correctly at Nan Xiang. The pig ear is cut into thin slices and then tossed in slightly spicy red oil and chopped cilantro. The slices have the perfect texture of being somewhat firm, but easy to bite; it’s sort of hard to explain, but if you try it you’ll see what I mean. This was really good and close to what you’d get in Asia. This hands down beat any other place in NY for the best version I’ve had in NY. 8.25/10
Spicy Bamboo Shoot:
This is another common cold appetizer dish that is sliced bamboo shoots tossed in slightly spicy red oil. While not quite as good as the previous appetizers I mentioned it was tasty. The bamboo was nice and the red oil complimented it nicely. 7.25/10
Noodle With Scallion Sauce (Cong You Ban Mian):
This is a bowl of thin noodles with a sauce made out of soy sauce and scallion oil. The scallions were browned, fermented and put in the oil. The noodles were reasonably al dente, they weren’t hand pulled, but they were good and as I said in my former post they remind me of ramen. The sauce is what makes the dish and the scallion oil and soy combination is really good. 7.75/10
Steamed Pork Buns (Xiao Long Bao):
I’ll stick to what my review said last time as they tasted exactly the same. The skins were much better than any of the other places in NY, normally I’ve found XLB in NY to be too doughy and not tender enough. The filling was what really set them apart from most of the mediocre XLB in NY, all of the other places in NY have overly heavy and greasy filling. Not the case here, the filling was very good, the meat was tender and the soup was very flavorful but not greasy and heavy. 7.75/10
Steamed Crab Meat & Pork Buns (Xie Fen Xiao Long Bao):
This was actually almost exactly the same except with a little bit of crab meat and orange crab roe. I prefer these generally although at Nan Xiang I don’t feel like there is much difference. 7.75/10
Sweet Soy bean Milk (Tian Dou Jiang):
This was cold sweet soy bean milk, it was good, not chalky and clean tasting. It was better than last time I was here and probably on par with the flower shop lady on Roosevelt. Overall, this was quite good. 7.75/10
I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at this meal especially the four cold appetizers I got. I’d probably get every single one of their cold appetizers if I was with enough people. I’d definitely recommend coming here to check it out as it’s probably one of the better restaurants in Flushing Chinatown.
38-12 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354