ADDRESS: 30843 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Westlake Village, CA 91362
As the timing would turn out, my latest business trip out to California also happened to coincide with Chinese New Year, which fell on a Saturday. That gave me the perfect opportunity to go spend the day hanging out with my brother Kevin. Dumplings are supposedly one of the foods you should aim to eat on the holiday (since they are shaped like those gold ingots from the imperial era) to help bring you prosperity in the new year. In looking around for a dumpling house closer to where he lived, we came across eLoong Dumplings, where one of the specialties is the xiao long bao, or Shanghai soup dumplings.
My brother and I were speculating about how the name of the restaurant came about, and the closest thing that we could come up with was that the sound of the word “eLoong” is similar to what you’d say in Chinese to put in one order of Shanghai soup dumplings. We did get to the restaurant right as it was opening, but the holiday meant that it didn’t take long for the place to fill up with other hungry diners.
To make things pretty straightforward, the ordering system at the restaurant is to jot down next to the items you wanted on their menu sheet they give you. The menu packet itself that comes with the sheet provides some supplemental photos to give you an idea of what everything is. There’s certainly an array of noodle and rice dishes, along with some vegetables, but the soup dumplings were the main star of the show. Between the two of us, my brother and I decided that one order each of soup dumplings, wontons, chicken fried noodles, and red bean dumplings were more than enough to split.
I will say that the closest comparable place I knew of in the area serving Shanghai soup dumplings was Din Tai Fung. Now, I certainly had no expectation that this place was going to be at that level. But I did walk away at least with the thought that if you didn’t feel like making the trek deeper into LA, eLoong would help satisfy that craving for some soup dumplings. If anything, it helps give Kevin another spot to hit up closer to him after his favorite local Chinese restaurant closed up shop.
First up came the chicken fried noodles, in a manageable portion that both of us could split. Flour noodles stir-fried with chicken, cabbage, and some Chinese broccoli, this dish had a good savory component to it. It definitely made for a nice “appetizer” of sorts before the soup dumplings and wontons arrived.
We decided to go with the classic pork soup dumplings (technically, it’s the only type of xiao long bao they had) to get a good feel and compare with other places we’d been. I thought the dough wrapper was done pretty well — just the right thickness for what you’d expect from xiao long bao and didn’t rip when you tried to pick it up. The pork mixture inside had good flavor as well, along with the broth. But if there was only one minor thing I thought could have used some slight improvement, it was the quantity of the broth inside the dumpling needing just a small boost.
The pork and vegetable wontons paired really well with that spicy red pepper sauce they got served in. I didn’t find that the red pepper sauce gave the wontons too much heat, but just enough of a tingle as you were going through the bites. The red bean dumplings were also pretty cool too, as it was sweet red bean paste stuffed into the same wrappers as the xiao long bao and steamed. Just like little pouches filled with sweet dessert to finish off the meal.
eLoong Dumplings is situated in a nice neighborhood location that makes you not have to brave the LA traffic just to get a fix for xiao long bao. Is it up to the quality of other soup dumpling houses I’ve tried? Not necessarily, but then again, this place is not aiming to try and top those other restaurants. The kitchen staff puts out a tasty product that I thought helps provide that stopgap for that craving for xiao long bao. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, give it a shot to see what you think.
Let’s now take a look at the eLoong Dumplings Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for eLoong Dumplings:
Food: 4.25 / 5
The food quality was good, everything tasted fresh, and there is a good enough variety of different Chinese dishes to choose from (ranging between noodles to rice to vegetables) if you were looking for something other than dumplings. The xiao long bao is enough to help stopgap any cravings you might have.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
Inside the restaurant, it definitely felt pretty modern, with ample lighting coming in from the windows in the front. The place itself doesn’t seat a ton of people, so I can imagine it might fill up quick when it’s busy.
Service: 3.75 / 5
From a hospitality perspective, I thought that our waitress was a bit on the cold side, really only engaging us to ask for drinks and taking our order sheet. The food did come out pretty fast from the kitchen (although us being one of the first tables of the day probably had something to do with that as well).
Price: 3.75 / 5
I felt like it was kind of a mixed bag when it came to the pricing of the food. For some things, like the soup dumplings and red bean dumplings, I thought the value was there. But for the quantity of food provided with the plates of chicken fried noodles and wontons, $10.95 per dish seemed a little on the expensive side.