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March 08, 2022 3 min read

XLB (xiao long bao, siu long bao, or soup dumplings) is the high rollers' table for those unfamiliar with the dumpling game. If you do it right, you'll enjoy the juicy, porky bliss; if you get it wrong, you'll end up with a scalded mouth and a wet chin at the very least (a ruined dumpling and guffawing friends at worst).

The delicate shells of xiao long bao (meaning "little basket buns," called after the bamboo baskets in which they're steamed) surround a pork-based filling and a gelatinous beef broth. 

The broth liquefies during steaming, poaching the pork in a rich, flavorful soup. The soup solidifies, and the skin hardens as the dumplings cool, so XLB must be eaten promptly but not too rapidly.

Here's how to eat soup dumplings for a memorable experience: 

How To Get XLB Onto Your Spoon

The goal here is to get the dumpling from the bamboo steamer onto your spoon without rupturing it because XLB has thinner skin than a teenager with fresh braces.

You can try to place your Chinese soup spoon close to the dumpling. Then, grab the dumpling with your chopsticks near the knot and gently take it from the steamer.

What if your chopsticks aren't quite up to par? Then, you may ask for a little pair of tongs from the restaurant or use your hands (make sure you wash them first). However, if the dumpling sticks to the bottom of the steamer, take it off slowly; tugging will almost certainly result in a rip.

What's The Best Way to Consume It Without Burning Your Mouth?

Resist the urge to shove it in your mouth right away, or things will get hot and messy. Remember that it's essentially a pouch of superheated stock; you'll need to let the steam out and cool it for a few seconds.

There are two ways to do that. If you're in a fine-dining restaurant, they will give you a bigger spoon to take a smaller bite along the side. The soup drains into the spoon, and you can sip it gracefully. 

What to Do with The Bowl of Sauce?

It's a black vinegar dipping sauce with fresh ginger. It is up to you how to use the sauce, but here are some ways to do so: 

  • Before scooping up the dumpling, put the vinegar in your empty spoon.
  • Prior to putting the dumpling on your spoon, dip it in the sauce.
  • If the dumpling is young, place it on your spoon and drip the vinegar over it.
  • After slurping up all the broth, add sauce to the drained dumpling.

Don't put the dipping sauce into the dumpling with the liquid; otherwise, the soup would be ruined.

What About the Huge Dumpling?

To get the steamer closer to your face, place it on top of a Styrofoam bowl.

  • There's a region towards the top of the dumpling where the skin is thinner and more translucent. In that position, place a straw (provided with the dish).
  • Suck up the soup by carefully twisting the straw until you see broth pouring out. (Note: Do not press the straw further into the dumpling, or your tongue will be burned!)
  • Slice the dumpling open with a knife and fork once the soup has been drained. Enjoy with the ginger-black vinegar sauce.


Whether in Hong Kong or a Chinese restaurant, eating XLB is a fun experience to remember. What better way to commemorate these happy memories than with Hong Kong-themed items? If you're searching for something different, try Siu Long Bao handcrafted candles or the siu mai dim sum candle designed to appear like your favorite Cantonese delicacies. 

The Suitcase is one of the finest in Asian men's fashion and lifestyle products. We have handpicked this collection with great care and precision, and we are happy to present it to the gentlemen of Australia. On the other hand, our BeCandles, created using the same procedures used by chefs to make actual dim sum, are replicas of six of Hong Kong's most popular baos and dumplings. Each pair of candles is contained in a traditional bamboo steaming box to complete the aesthetic. Take one home and enjoy it as a gift, a keepsake, or simply a testament to your love ofsiu long bao!