One of the restaurants I find us frequenting is Wang’s in East Vancouver, on Kingsway. A little while ago we decided to find the best xiao long baos (XLB) in all of the Lower Mainland. We asked for everyone’s go-to’s and tried the top spots. A handful of new and familiar restaurants, to finally come to the conclusion that the one we have been going to, was our top pick for the best out of them all.
Here is our review of Wang’s XLB’s, plus all the dishes we usually get, and some outliers that I decided to try on a whim. This post is an amalgamation of the last 3 times we visited this year.
Steam pork buns aka Xiao Long Bao, aka XLB. This is what they are best known for. Soup filled pork dumplings that are stuffed on display and steamed to order. The fluidity of the employees to be able to wrap and roll in lightening speed is amazing.
Looking around, every table dining in always has a basket or two of these. We like each dumpling’s even meat to dough ratio; and the amount of soup that is present within the bun when you bite down on the whole of it, while it is fully encased in your mouth.
They are best taken with Wang’s in-house made XO chilli sauce. It adds a nice chewy, stringy texture to any dish, and a slight burn to help highlight with heat. Although I find myself using heaping spoonfuls of it to make a sufficient dent in the flavour profile. And if there are any leftovers, I always ask for a container of two to take home with it.
For those who like their XLB, but want a rift on the classic: Wang’s also has Pan fried pork buns. Same soup and pork ball filling, but bundled up in a steamed white bun and then pan fried for a crispy yet chewy filling. It naturally eats a lot more dense and filling than the previous option. We always get both.
I am personally not a fan of their Shanghai style spring rolls, but my dining companion is. Whereas I don’t like the greasy, flaky shell, and it mismatched gooey centre, he does. And he especially likes the two contrasting textures. As for taste, everything is the same when you use the same golden chilli oil.
And if you want to ensure you leave full, grab an order of their Shanghai thick noodles. Simple, thick, chewy noodles with strings of lettuce and beef intertwined; all in a mildly salty soy-based sauce. They make a decent palate in between all the more flavourful dumplings.
I once tried the Sliced beef noodles in soup, only to learn it was nothing like Taiwanese beef noodle soup. This version was lean, with very little gristle; whereas I wanted it rich and fatty, and a way more satisfying broth. Wang’s version tasted like sesame oil and needed some chilli garlic oil to give it some life. In hindsight I should have ordered it spicy for more punch. At least the meat was extremely tender and tasty.
On another visit I tried their wontons in soup. Great pork and green onion taste from the wontons, but the soy based soup/sauce they sat in, barely flavoured them. So yet again, their chilli XO sauce saved the day.
If you are looking to get the wontons I suggest getting them cold in peanut sauce instead. Same great soft and silky dumpling exterior, hiding a tender ball of pork and green onion within. Finished with the exciting flavour of sweet and savoury peanut butter to give this dish a different character from everything else before it.
Given how often we have visited so far this year, and the fact that we now and again find ourselves craving for it, we will be back. I feel like I will eventually work my way through most of their menu out of curiosity and the desire to try new things. But for now, enjoy our spot for what we think are the best XLB in the Lower Mainland, and their great assortment of Shanghai comfort dishes.
Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine
3328 Kingsway #110, Vancouver, BC V5R 5L1