Location: 3333 Bristol Street, BLM, 1 Bloomingdale’s, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Paradise Dynasty: The Legend of Xiao Long Bao. A culinary journey through the 8 wonders of soup dumplings!
On a recent trip to Los Angeles, we decided to try out the newly anticipated Paradise Dynasty nestled in the Bloomingdale’s within the South Coast Plaza. I heard about this place a while back being famous for the world’s first rainbow soup dumplings. Funny enough this is the same mall I first tried xiao long bao and if you’re a big fan of Din Tai Fung soup dumplings (check out my review here), this place is a MUST TRY!
First of all, the décor is exceptional! A modern feel with an eye catching glass kitchen window showcasing chefs carefully pleating the delicate soup dumplings to order. We arrived right before opening at 11 am and the line was already super long so make sure to come early to catch a spot as they don’t take reservations.
At first glance the menu is very similar to the famed Din Tai Fung. We asked for 2 orders of the Rainbow Xiao Long Bao so we could both enjoy and savor each flavor since you only get one of each per serving. But I will get to that later…
Appetizers, wontons, pot stickers, and pork wraps
There were some usual appetizer items like Japanese style cold cucumbers which was delicious with a mild garlic flavor, and some more unusual ones like Wonton in their famous house pork broth. The pork broth was AMAZING! Creamy and milky rich with a deep meaty flavor that compliments the springy shrimp in the wonton dumplings. Highly recommend as a soothing and satisfying starter!
Next came the Pork Pot Stickers. Crispy bottom with a pork and veggie stuffing, these dumplings are super juicy! You can’t avoid a squirt of porky goodness with each bite, we both made a bit of a mess on the table not knowing haha! The Sweet Pork Wraps were also divine. Set on a bed of finely shredded scallions and served with a pile of freshly steamed flour pancakes they are fun to eat and deliciously flavorful. Tender pork pieces in a sweet and sticky hoisin sauce contrasted by the sharp fresh scallions was so good! Reminds me of eating Peking duck.
Now the pièce de résistance…a journey through 8 beautiful soup dumplings
A moment of silence before we begin this journey, and it is a journey because the waiter literally came with a set of instructions on how we should navigate these little gems. Don’t these look so beautiful and fun to look at? I literally took at least 10 photos for remembrance before decimating these little guys.
Apparently, there is a certain order on how you should enjoy these to ensure your palette is not overwhelmed by the different flavors so let me walk you through each one. Get ready!
1. Original Xiao Long Bao
So this is your basic xiao long bao containing only pork. The dumpling had PLENTY of soup which is a great sign and the taste was phenomenal and very similar to the famed Din Tai Fung version. I give it a 4/5.
2. Luffa Gourd Xiao Long Bao
I know what you might be thinking…bath sponge in a dumpling?! Haha! For those of your unfamiliar it’s just a Chinese vegetable that looks similar to a cucumber. The flavor in this one is very delicate with a slight vegetable flavor. I rate this one a 3/5.
3. Fois Gras Xiao Long Bao
Now for the deluxe version! Who knew you can put fois gras in a soup dumpling because why not!? This one was by far a favorite, super unique, with a hint of delicious fatty duck liver in a good way. Very indulgent! I give this a 4.5/5.
4. Black Truffle Xiao Long Bao
And if things couldn’t be more luxurious the next one is filled with generous chunks of Black Truffles! I’ve had this before at Din Tai Fung and the wonderful aroma of black truffle goes so well with the rich pork broth. 5/5!
5. Cheese Xiao Long Bao
Now this one is interesting! CHEESE? So it’s hard to figure out the type of cheese but it tastes a little like Kraft Single’s or Velveeta? I’m not so sure about this one, a little strange. You taste the cheese for sure but I’m not sure if it really goes with the pork. I give this a 2/5.
6. Crab Roe Xiao Long Bao
Crab and pork a classic so you can’t go wrong. You have a great crabby flavor from the roe complimenting the rich pork. Nice! 4/5.
7. Garlic Xiao Long Bao
I love garlic and this was one another interesting one. It tastes just like the original xiao long bao with a lot of garlic!! They definitely did not skimp on the garlic in this one. It’s delicious and the garlic packs a punch for sure. I give this a 3.5/5.
8. Szechuan Xiao Long Bao
Last one is the Szechuan SPICY xiao long bao. The strongest tasting one by far and it’s filled with chili oil the moment the juices spill out. The heat doesn’t come immediately and you can taste a bit of the numbing Szechuan peppercorn oil with each chew. I rate this dumpling a 4/5.
Alas, we come to the end of our soup dumpling adventure! Paradise Dynasty is a great place to have some fun with food and enjoy delicious classics and new twists on Chinese dishes.