Rainbow XLB in the Westend – Jingle Bao offers colourful & tasty soup dumplings

If one has to pick a Chinese dish that’s fun, interactive, and delicious, Xiaolongbao, or XLB, is a great choice for many. Hot flavourful soup bursting out of the bitten dumpling is something you want to see when you take some XLB newbie out for the first time. This never gets old. With so many soup dumpling places in the city now, this newcomer, Jingle Bao stands out with offering colourful dumplings, which have been all over social media since last September. Would they taste as good as they look? I finally had a chance to find out with my friend JC.

Like any of the xiaolongbao speciality restaurants, the dumpling making station here can be spotted easily when you walk in the restaurant, and you can see everything about making dumplings.

Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao

The XLB

The Signature Magnificent Seven ($11) dumplings were served, exactly like how they are shown on Instagram. 7 of them all in different colours.  However, I was amazed to be informed that they don’t’ only have different colours, they also have different flavours too. It’s not just a dye job! This gets interesting. The server also emphasized that the colouring was 100% from natural ingredients.

Letting JC select 4 at her own choice: original (white), garlic (charcoal grey), Sichuan spicy (pink), and maroon (truffle mushroom), I sampled the spinach (green), carrot (orange), and curry (yellow).

Started with the original, JC enjoyed all the flavours she picked. She found the garlic one very garlic forward and the truffle one earthy but balanced. And to her surprise, the Sichuan spicy one was not very spicy and only left tingling numbing effect on the tongue.

For me, it was amazing how strong the favours were even from the carrot and spinach dumplings but in a good way.  I did see the chef putting the same pork stuffing into all dumplings. It is amazing that they can incorporate such strong flavours into such a thin dumpling wrapper.  The curry one was a pleasant surprise. With a strong southeast Asian curry flavour, the fresh taste of pork and chicken broth still came through nicely, same as the first 2 dumplings I tasted.  

Signature Magnificent Seven XLB
Signature Magnificent Seven XLB
Carrot XLB
Carrot XLB
Spinach XLB
Spinach XLB
Curry XLB
Curry XLB

The Har Gow & the Dumpling Rant

The Vegetarian Spring Rolls ($6) were super crispy on the outside, which was exciting. But biting into it, the filling was very soft and mushy almost. I was guessing they overcooked the cabbage while panfrying it. It would be nice if they had added something crunchy like some black wood mushroom (muer) or something.

The Spicy Sichuan Dumplings ($9) came with a Sichuan “mala” sauce which exhibits a great balance of heat and numbing effect from Sichuan peppercorn. Noodle can be added to the dumplings for $2, which we got. Although not made in-house, the noodles are freshly made every morning by their supplier.

Last but not least, the Har Gow ($8), or the classic shrimp dumplings looked and tasted pretty legit to me. Maybe the wrapper was a bit thick, and not as translucent as the ones from high-end dim sum places, it was still better than most of the East Van dim sum.  However, one should know the thin and crystal clear shrimp dumpling skin isn’t from the most traditional method. To make the dumpling skin thin, translucent, and strong enough, tapioca starch or some other kind of starch is usually used.  They do offer the Crystal Shrimp Dumplings ($8) on the menu but it was not available at the time.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Spicy Sichuan Dumplings + Fresh Noodles
Spicy Sichuan Dumplings + Fresh Noodles
Har Gow
Har Gow     
Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao
Jingle Bao

Final thought

Finally had a taste of the rainbow XLB, which have been all over social media since last fall! I was surprised to find out the dumplings were not only for the different colours but also for the unique flavours. And flavours are bold, adding an extra wow factor. Who would have known I actually enjoyed the curry xiaolongbao. The other dishes were decent too. As a dim sum connoisseur, I was so ready to pick on the Har Gow here. But it turned out to be pretty legit. The Chinese pastry chef here is classically trained for certain. As I only tried 3 out of the 7 flavours. I definitely would like to come back to complete the whole spectrum!

$-$$

rating: 3.5/5

Jingle Bao

774 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C9
(604) 428-7722 or jinglebao.com

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