Juicy Dumplings since 1913…in San Gabriel.
I have been on a quest since 2006.
What happened in 2006? I watched the Shanghai episode of No Reservations.
No, I didn’t decide to become a Food Writer at that point. It was the first time that I had come across the concept of the Soup Dumpling on air. And after watching that golden moment of television, I decided I had to have one…somehow, somewhere.
Well, the good news is that the somewhere was the recently expanded Din Tai Fung, and they had plenty of Xiaolongbao (better know here as Juicy Pork Dumplings), which soon became a staple and a favorite of mine.
But there was one dumpling shown on the show, the Kumpao (I hope that’s how it’s spelled), the massive, fist-sized, soft-ball sized all soup dumpling that captivated my attention. I knew I had to have one. I knew I had to satisfy my Soup Dumpling Lust, and that…yes…somehow, someway, some restaurant in San Gabriel was going to do it for me.
And then on a Sunday Afternoon I found it…at Wang Xing Ji in San Gabriel.
Okay, truth be told I was going to the 99 Ranch in the same complex and I just wanted to nosh on some lunch. I wandered around for a few minutes, originally intent on going to Sam Woo’s BBQ, and…well…that didn’t work out so well. Two o’clock in the afternoon and there were still a mess of people in line, and even more sitting down and enjoying their food.
Okay, where I can I go?
Wander up the stairs, and there I discover my little dumpling house.
Looks small from the outside. Let’s wander—
—oh, wow. Much bigger than it looks. And look they’ve even got a Kumpao! I’ve got to try—
—crap, it’s Pork and Crab. That rules me out (seafood allergy).
But they’ve got Xiaolongbao and Vegetables. Why not?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Okay, let’s start with the twist on the Xiaolongbao (Pork Dumplings). The first question my Waiter asked me was…do you want the sweet or spicy kind?
Spicy I’ve heard of, but sweet? That was new.
Okay. Sweet it is.
Now, as you work through your Xiaolongbao, you do it like you do at any Dumpling House. You bite the tiny hole in your dumpling. You suck out the hot, scalding juice, then you give it bath in the vinegar (no pickled ginger here at Wang Xing Ji), and dine.
But that moment where you suck in the juice is a far, far, sweeter experience than I’ve ever had before. Not sugary sweet…more honey molasses dare I say. It was a new and somewhat jarring experience. Though a very good, new and somewhat jarring experience. Sweet is new to me when it comes to dumplings, but oooooh was it good. Sweet and Vinegar together? Through the roof good.
I also got the Spinach, which I’ve got to say, I ripped through faster than any dessert I can think of. It was just damn good. Not just in contrast to the dumplings, but good period. Loved ‘em.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Remember, Wang Xing Ji is not exactly visible from the street. It’s actually hidden behind a pillar, so if you’re on ground level, you will not see the restaurant from the street. You have to know here it is.
Take the escalator by Sam Woo BBQ head toward the Korean BBQ Place. Move past the Korean BBQ Place, and there you should see it.
Oh yeah, the Xiaolongbao come at you 9 at a time.
Oh, and the Kumpao has got seafood in it. But then again, that’s more for me.
PARKING: Wang Xing Ji is situated in a mall with a massive, massive free parking lot, but because of all the other businesses at work there, parking is still at a premium. Park close to the end, where Sam Woo’s is, almost opposite of the 99 Ranch Grocery Store, and you should be safe.
Wang Xing Ji
140 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 307-1188
Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm