Part 2 of Hui Tou Xiang, where I actually eat the Hui Tou dumplings can be found here
Living in the Chinese food mecca that is San Gabriel tends to make you jaded to some things. ”Oh, another restaurant that has dumplings and xiao long bao? Been there, done that.” At least, that’s what I thought the first time I got wind of Hui Tou Xiang, a dumpling and noodle restaurant near my house. They must have opened next to Luscious Dumplings thinking they could grab up some of the people waiting in line for the dumplings at Luscious. For those people waiting out in the sun for a table at Luscious Dumpling: You’re missing out if you’re not eating at this restaurant next door.
Hui Tou Xiang’s signature dish is the hui tou pan fried dumpling which looked like a rectangular gyoza with an almost bready skin. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it the first time I got there because I was lured away by the crab xiao long baos. The waiter assured me that they made them in house, so I ordered a steamer of these soupy dumplings.
While waiting for the dumplings, the lao ban niang brought out a complementary dish of northern-style kimchi and sweet and sour soup. The sweet and sour soup was actually not bad — its tangy flavor went well with the warming back-of-the-throat spice of white pepper. The slivers of wood ear mushroom and egg drops lent some texture diversity to each slurp of soup. The spicy cabbage kimchi was surprisingly sweet, but still delicious and pungent.
The xiao long bao arrived in all its steaming glory and I was glad to see none had broken open during transit. I poured vinegar into a boat full of slivered ginger and had my first bite. It was wonderful. The juice was hot and savory and just shy of “burn a hole in my mouth” hot. There was lots of crab meat inside as well as flavorful pork. The wrapper was the perfect thickness because it was substantial enough to hold the juice but thin enough not to overwhelm the flavor of the filling. It was probably the best xiao long bao I’d had in a long time.
Luckily for will, there is a handful of vegetarian options on the menu. He ordered the tofu-skin appetizer, which was layers of tofu skin pressed together and then braised in a sweet-ish soy sauce liquid. It was refreshing, especially with a leaf or two of cilantro.
Hui Tou Xiang also offers steamed vegetarian dumplings, which were pretty good. The wrapper was nice and chewy and while the filling was a bit under-salted, the rest of the flavor was good.
I will definitely hui tou to try the restaurant’s hui tou pan fried dumpling. (Get it? Because hui tou also means return.)
Hui Tou Xiang Noodle House
704 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776