I previously reviewed XO Taste’s sister restaurant, XO Kitchen, which I like a lot. The XO restaurants have such huge menus of Chinese Dim Sum dishes that I thought it was worth doing another review. XO Taste has pretty much the same menu as XO Kitchen, but with a few Japanese and Korean dishes mixed in and has soup dumplings, which I don’t remember seeing at XO Kitchen.
The Dumplings: For this go around I tried the Har Gow, the crab and pork soup dumplings and the pan-fried Japanese style dumplings.
Har Gow – These are a steamed shrimp dumpling with an intricately pleated crystal wrapper. In my experience very few places do Har Gow well, often the wrapper is rubbery and gelatinous, but XO Taste pretty much nailed these. Their Har Gow had a slightly elastic but delicate wrapper and the shrimp filling was particularly sweet and fresh tasting.
Soup Dumplings – While the Har Gow were excellent, the soup dumplings were an epic fail. As soon as the dumpling steamer was placed in front of us I could tell that the soup dumplings were going to be bad. The wrappers were thick and rubbery and sort of shrunk in upon themselves, and there was absolutely no soup inside these dumplings. The crab and pork filling was also bland.
Pan-Fried Japanese Style Dumplings – These dumplings are listed on one of the many pieces of construction paper taped to the walk that list menu items that aren’t in the printed menu. These dumplings were filled with a shrimp, pork and scallion mix and wrapped in a thin wrapper that was fried to a crispy perfection. These come pre-doused with sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds and are one of my favorite items on the XO menu, they are crispy, salty and savory goodness.
The Dipping Sauce: The soup dumplings came with a red, rather than black, vinegar/wine sauce, with slivered ginger. The sauce was sweeter than the more typical black vinegar sauce and was quite tasty, but didn’t make up for the dried out soup dumplings. The pan fried dumplings come pre-doused with a pretty thick soy sauce, that I think has some oyster sauce mixed into it.
The Location: XO Taste is in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Elizabeth Street between Canal and Hester; this used to be part part of Little Italy but has since been swallowed up the expanding Chinatown. The restaurant is around the corner from XO Kitchen which is on Hester street.