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When it comes to Xiao Long Bao or Shanghainese food in Hong Kong, Taiwan’s Ding Tai Fung (www.dintaifung.com.hk) naturally comes to mind. No doubt Ding has been serving up some consistent and clean Shanghainese food with impeccable service ever since their arrival some 4 years ago. But sometimes you just want something different, something with a bit more character, perhaps a stand- alone independent eatery that is not part of a multi- national chain?
I did not discover Hao De Lai until after I have moved out of the neighborhood around Jordan a few years ago.
Judging from the outside, Hao De Lai resembled nothing special.
The space is narrow and long. The entire place can seat only about 20.
The first item that I ordered was their fried dumpling, and I think it is one of the best I have had in Hong Kong. There is only 3 pieces per order for $24. But these were quality fried dumplings. The skin of the dumpling is key. It has to be the right thickness. The best part of the dumpling is the bottom, which has a slightly burnt golden brown colour which gives a crunchy texture. The top and sides of the dumpling skin are white, which is soft. But the skin also has this chewiness, almost al dente if you will. The success of this fried dumpling is the perfect marriage between the skin and the meat contained within. The crunchy dumpling skin at the bottom; the chewy skin up top, and the juiciness of the meat filling. With a dash of vinegar, it is really quite something. I actually prefer this fried dumpling over xiao long bao because the skin of the xiao long bao is so thin, making the meat the dominate taste. The fried dumpling, on the other hand, has less of a meaty taste, because dumpling skin is thicker. It is this extra doughiness which I prefer.
There are a handful of other dishes worth trying. Some of the orders have half portions, so that you can try out more dishes.
This place reminds of of this hole-in-the-wall dumpling place in New York which I used to go. Years ago it was USD $1 for 4 dumplings.I need to dig around and see if that place is still around.
Hao De Lai Xiao Long Bao Dian
Shop A, G/F, 1 Tak Hing Street,
Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) – 2377-9488