My friends and I have been slowly and steadily pitting XLB vs. XLB, dimsum vs. dimsum, etc. vs. etc. (we have "battles" as opposed to smackdown's but the idea is the same) in Vancouver. Unfortunately, we never tend to try many more than 1 or 2 places as official contenders (graduate school is bad for restaurant battling). For XLB, I'd suggest trying City Temple of Shanghai restaurant on Main and 22nd-ish. They do a quite serviceable XLB, and is a more manageable size than at The Place (we still like The Place just a tiny bit better though). We tried it before trying The Place (this was back in October). Here's a description I wrote up of what we had: City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant We ordered: chicken w/wine sauce, crispy shell prawns shanghai style, xiao long bao, juicy pan fried pork buns, spicy string beans, fried rice cake shanghai style. Chicken w/ Wine Sauce. This was really good. It looks like a typical chinese cold chicken, but the flavor was intense with a chinese rice wine. Like sake marinated chicken. Super flavorful, moist and delicious. Crispy Shell Prawns Shanghai Style. These were also good. I'm not sure what the sauce is that they use when cooking things "Shanghai Style", something soy based and faintly sweet, it sort of melds flavors together. The prawns were nicely cooked, crispy skin with tender shrimp inside, their flavor was still able to shine through the sauce. Xiao Long Bao. These were very good. The trick to XLB is the wrapping. It must be strong enough to hold together when you pick it up with your chopsticks without puncturing and leaking the soup, however, can't be too chewy; the more delicate the better. Its a fine balance that must be achieved, and these handle pretty admirably (just faintly too thick, but better than leaking). The soup and the pork filling were also quite good, but not as overwhelmingly flavorful that I know XLB are capable of. I would have liked a more intense vinegar and more ginger more finely chopped in the dipping dish; something to help bring out the rich pork flavors of the dumpling and soup. Overall though, these XLB outperform those I've had at dimsum in Vancouver thus far. Juicy Pan Fried Pork Buns. These are essentially like the pan fried gyoza version XLB. For fried gyoza, I think they are quite good, I mean, they have the soup inside which automatically makes them better. However, in contrast to the XLB, they're all thick-skinned and oilier from the pan frying than XLB... Still, quite tasty. Spicy String Beans. These were alright. The fat pieces of green bean packed a lot of natural sweetness, but I felt they lacked the crisp crunch, either from being cooked a tad long or from being a little old. Also, they didn't really pack much spice. Definitely had better elsewhere. Fried Rice Cake Shanghai Style. Nice chewy thin-sliced rounds of rice cake, cooked with small strips of pork and chopped napa cabbage in that "Shanghai Style" sauce. Here the flavor melding rendered everything a little bland. I do really like the chewiness of the rice cake pieces though, but a pretty boring dish. So, the XLB battle is off to a pretty good start. City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant has some other dishes that were quite nice and has XLB worth a repeat visit for (I rate the XLB a 7/10 on the international XLB scale*.). Thus, there's definitely still room for others in Vancouver to prove their xiao long bao reign supreme. For dimsum, I'm a pretty big fan of Kirin. Red Star on Granville (a couple blocks from The Place) is also quite good, and they have egg tarts (I grew up eating dimsum every week, and as a kid, egg tarts established themselves as a dimsum standard for me). Kirin doesn't have egg tarts.... but pretty much delicious everything else. * I lived in Taipei for almost 2 years. all XLB is scored against Din Tai Feng. ← Nice. This sounds like some kind of tournament style (march madnessesque) 'down. i love the idea.