Falling short of the bar

While the modern, minimalistic interior design of XLB Dumpling Bar is enough to attract high school students, the quality of the food will not have many students returning.

Located in Walnut, the newly opened restaurant boasts authentic Chinese dishes, such as xiao long bao or dumplings, with a fast food twist.

I arrived at the restaurant for dinner, and was surprised to find only one couple eating there. As soon as I walked in, I felt welcomed by the aroma of Chinese food and the simplistic interior design. The walls were a light shade of white and showed off various geometric wooden shapes. The simple designs on the wall, combined with the tiny houseplants on each dining table, gave the restaurant a comfortable and homey feeling. The cleanliness was beyond excellent as there was not a speck of leftover food or trash on the floor or tables.

After my expectations were heightened by the visual appeal of XLB, I decided to order the signature Pork XLB Soup Dumplings for $7, the Spicy Dan Dan Noodles for $5, the Shrimp and Pork Dumplings for $8 and the Taro Ube Milk Tea for $4.

Since there were few customers, I wasn’t surprised when my milk tea arrived two minutes later. The drink was a pretty pastel purple and had traces of taro syrup drizzled around the cup. I enjoyed the rich and creamy taste of the tea and loved its  thick consistency. However, it tasted more like a milkshake than a milk tea beverage.

My order was called within the next five minutes and I went up to the pick-up counter to receive my food. The soup dumplings included seven pieces, while the shrimp dumplings had eight. I began with the noodles, which were drowned in a spicy and creamy Chinese peanut butter sauce that was topped with pickled red onions.

As soon as I took a bite of my noodles, I was overwhelmed by a wave of spice. The excessive sauce gave an unpleasantly overpowering flavor. The red onions did not help balance the flavor and were too tangy to compliment the noodles. The texture of the noodles was also too soft for my liking and could have been a result of overboiling.

Disappointed, I moved onto the next dish, the pork and shrimp dumplings. I bit in and was met with a rather fishy taste. As someone who grew up eating homemade dumplings of all flavors, I was not impressed by the dumpling filling. The shrimp’s texture was chewy and the meat very flimsy, which made an odd combo. The flavoring was also rather bland, so I had to rely on dipping my dumplings into the chili oil and soy vinegar sauce to somewhat enjoy the dish.

 The final dish was the only one that did not disappoint. The miniature soup dumplings were a perfect bite-sized shape, which was convenient since the soup would not spill out once you bit into the piece. I enjoyed this dish since the flavorful soup combined with the melt-in-your mouth pork fillings to create the perfect splash of flavors and textures.These dumplings did not need to be dipped in any sauce since the soup provided a nice aromatic taste.

Even though the service and sanitation of XLB Dumpling Bar are outstanding, the food did not meet my standards. Considering the quality, a dollar for a dumpling is overpriced.