For years, our favorite place to get Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings (XLB) was a shop in Rockville called Shanghai Taste (1121 Nelson St. Rockville, MD 20850).
One of the benefits of driving all the way to Rockville was that we’d get to enjoy our XLBs (and other dishes) and then we’d make a stop at Great Wall Supermarket.
Nan Xiang Express
Nan Xiang Express is a relatively small place that’s located in the Chatham Station shopping center in Ellicott City. It shares a space with Kung Fu Tea and TKK Chicken. (in fact, to get access to Nan Xiang Express, you enter using the Kung Fu Tea’s front doors)
It’s meant to be a takeout place so you get everything in takeout containers (albeit, nice wax-lined paper containers and not plastic) and can dine in if you wish. We’ve always ordered online to cut down on wait times but then ate in the restaurant.
I kind of wish they had plates (and I tend to forget to bring our own) and the chopsticks they offer are the cheaper flimsier kind. We ended up using the lids of the containers, which is a fine alternative.
Oh, and if you’re really feeling extra, soup spoons would be helpful too because there’s at least a spoonful of soup in each of these dumplings. They just have those regular plastic soup spoons.
The XLBs are delicious and filled with soup. The skins are thin and delicate, the meat inside is juicy, and it was piping hot. Even though they were touching, none of them ripped, which was nice.
And you get 6 for $9.95! A very fair price.
We ordered a few other items that we knew we liked and paired well with the brothy goodness of XLB.
The Beef Tendon and Tripe in Spicy Sauce was very spicy and delicious. It’s just tendon and tripe, so similar but not exactly like Fu Qi Fei Pian. Their rendition hit all the notes though.
The Cucumber Salad with Garlic was crunchy, garlicky, and the perfect foil to the richness of the XLB.
The Pan-fried Pork Buns were good though I think they were outshined by the XLB. The dough has a little sweetness to it and is a bit puffier, so it’s a completely different style and unfair to compare it to soup dumplings.
And to top it all off, we got a noodle dish and a rice cake dish.
Both were very good though similar in that I think they share the same soy-based sauce.
Finally, we had to pick up a “Salty Sticky Rice Roll” that we always get at the brunch at A&J Restaurant in Rockville. We know them as Fan Tuan but Nan Xiang called them “Salty Sticky Rice Rolls.”
They have a TON of things on their menu and we only scratched the surface. They have a lot of familiar dim sum favorites like Siu Mai and various dumplings. We may have to try them on a future visit!
If you’re going to give them a visit, I recommend ordering online so you can shorten your wait time and maximize your XLB time!