J&J keeps a pretty low profile, but it’s been getting a ton of good PR on the boards lately. The ambience may be nothing to shout about, but when it comes to xiaolongbao (a.k.a. soup dumplings), it’s a favorite of hounds in the know.
AquaW loves it for xlb and more. Pork and crab dumplings are spiked with carrot, ginger and other veggies–a one-way trip to yum. They’re also bigger and slightly cheaper than Din Tai Fung’s (although J&J gives 8 xlb per order, and DTF gives 10). Pork xlb are tops, and veggie dumplings and potstickers (order early, they’re made to order) are also worthwhile. Scallion pancakes, golden and flaky, are fried to perfection. Nian gao, glutinous rice cake, is a tasty stir-fry, stir-fried chow mein-style, with some greens, onion and slivers of meat.
ipsedixit really likes the egg drop corn chowder–the cornstarch to egg ratio is just right. Chicken soup is also good, adds sidwich–clear and flavorful, but not salty.
Other recommended dishes: smoked fish, sauteed eels, fried pork chop on veggie rice, Shanghai noodle dishes, hot and soup soup, and winter melon soup.
Decor is…well, there is no decor. Tea comes in a generic metal pot with Styrofoam cups for your drinking pleasure. The rating is a B. But J&J has been serving up homestyle Shanghainese fare for well over a decade, and with good reason.
In the same minimall is another xlb favorite, Mei Long Village. Like J&J, Mei Long’s dumplings have wrappers that are a bit more rustic than Din Tai Fung’s–thicker and more flavorful.
Jerome’s favorite xlb spot is the underappreciated (or at least undermentioned) Giang Nan. Dumpling choices are limited to pork and crab-pork, but those are the two flavors recommended at most places anyhow. yclops is also a fan, offering a backhanded rec for the oily, molten-lava spring rolls.
ipsedixit puts Ho Ho Kitchen at #2.
Dragon Mark, in the same plaza as Mei Long Village and J&J, is considered a pretty good spot for xlb, but on the greasy side.
And then there’s Din Tai Fung. Those who love it cite the thin, delicate xlb wrappers and side dishes like the mysteriously named “appetizer.” Those who hate it consider the xlb devoid of soul. As ipsedixit says: “I don’t like my xlb to look and taste like they fell off a conveyor belt.”
J&J Restaurant (a.k.a. Jin Jiang) [San Gabriel Valley]
301 West Valley Blvd. #109, San Gabriel
Mei Long Village [San Gabriel Valley]
301 West Valley Blvd. #112, San Gabriel
Giang Nan / De Yue Lou
306 N. Garfield Ave. # 12, Monterey Park
Ho Ho Kitchen [East LA-ish]
10053 Valley Blvd., El Monte
Dragon Mark [San Gabriel Valley]
301 W. Valley Blvd. #110, San Gabriel
Din Tai Fung [Pasadena-ish]
1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia