Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao: $5 Michelin-recommended handmade dumplings & noodles

Perhaps this is just my penchant for handmade noodles and dumplings speaking, but there’s something alluring about Chinese la mian and dumpling shops in hawker centres. I guess this is what made me gravitate towards Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao in People’s Park Food Centre.

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Storefront

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao dishes out a variety of Chinese noodles and dumplings. Interestingly enough, they offer pig’s organ soup, congee and mee hoon kueh as well. You’ll be delighted to know that these are all priced affordably, with sizable single portions priced at S$4 to $5

Despite having found its way into the Michelin guide in 2017 and 2018, I was surprised to see that the stall hadn’t racked up a queue upon my arrival. It’s pretty hard to miss with its colourful signboards that beckon a look at their fare. 

With that, I waited no further to place my order.

What I tried at Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Xiao Long Bao

I kickstarted my meal with none other than the Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (S$5) because if it’s in the stall name, you practically need to order it. The dumplings came in a basket of 6, working out to be less than a dollar per piece. That’s an incredible steal if you ask me, given the delicate workmanship that goes into each hand-folded dumpling, and decently sized ones at that!

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Xiao Long Bao dipped

Though I usually like to enjoy things unadulterated, the prime way to enjoy xiao long bao constitutes dipping a piece into some black vinegar and then having it in one big bite with slivers of ginger. This is the one time I put aside my hatred for ginger, as its refreshingness alongside the vinegar’s light tang provides a much-welcomed balance to the rich dumpling.

Shang Hai Fried Xiao Long Bao: Utterly addictive pan-fried pork buns by ex-Crystal Jade dim sum chef

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Xiao Long Bao cross-section

I found Hong Peng’s xiao long bao skin to be relatively thicker and firmer than others I’ve tried, particularly doughy in pockets unfilled. 

The meat filling was on the lighter side, less suited for those who enjoy heavier flavours like me. It was unfortunately drier and tougher than expected. The soup, while enjoyable, did not make the filling any juicier and instead felt like a wholly separate component. 

While I was deprived of the experience of sinking my teeth into a xiao long bao in all its glory, I figure it’d be great on a good day as it did have all the workings of a decent one, including a discernible porky flavour.

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Chilli Oil Dumplings

Red chilli oil dumplings, better known as hong you chao shou, are my number one go-to every time I embark on a quest for handmade dumplings. It’s easily one of my favourite foods of all time, to say the least. 

So, of course I had to get Hong Peng’s Dumpling in Spicy Sauce (S$5). I was presented with a plate of a whopping 12 pieces, a great option for sharing or even sufficient as a full meal for those with smaller appetites. 

I just wished that such a masterpiece could’ve been served on something sturdier than a styrofoam plate, though that’s just a tiny gripe.

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Chilli Oil Dumpling

The dumplings are laden with a glistening mixture of chilli oil and vinegar, and adorned with bits of chilli crisp, spring onion and coriander. Each gorgeous morsel is chock full of meat encased in a slurp-worthy wonton wrapper. These wrappers are thinner and silkier than that of the xiao long bao, bearing some textural semblance to a chee cheong fun rice roll.

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Chilli Oil Dumpling cross-section

Sure enough, it was love at first bite. The dumplings had a subtle savoury-sweetness, complemented by specks of chives within the pork filling, making each bite an umami flavour bomb that had me reaching for more.

As someone who’s always down for some heat in my food, the chilli crisp took me by pleasant surprise – it had a potent spice akin to that of mala. Take care if you can’t handle the heat!

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Zha Jiang Mian

Hong Peng also boasts a wide variety of la mian, and I certainly couldn’t leave without giving it a go. I ordered the infallible classic Noodles with Bean Paste (S$4), or zha jiang mian

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Zha Jiang Mian mixed

My eyes widened when I was first served the heaped bowl of zha jiang mian. Earlier, I had read online reviews that spoke of its size. Regardless, I was not prepared for the massive portion I received – it takes value-for-money to the next level. 

Packed with generous chunks of minced meat and cucumber shreds, the black bean sauce was lustrous and I was sure to toss the noodles thoroughly to ensure that every strand was coated.

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Zha Jiang Mian

The star of the dish was hands down the moreish sauce. While it was robust, it thankfully didn’t have the characteristic funk of the black bean.

The noodles were springy and had a thickness unlike any other la mian I’ve tried. I noticed that they were almost uniform in shape and size, lacking the hallmark inconsistencies of hand-pulled noodles. Nonetheless, they retained an enjoyable bouncy bite. I shovelled down perfect mouthfuls of equal parts noodles, meat and crunchy cucumbers.

Final Thoughts

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao - Flatlay

While I did not have the best experience with the xiao long bao, the chilli oil dumplings and zha jiang mian contend for some of the best I’ve eaten. 

While the stall is admittedly overshadowed by its more popular counterparts in the area, I urge you to give Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao a shot. With quality food and generous servings, I promise that it’s worth your while.

Expected Damage: S$4 – S$8 per pax

Where to eat: 10 People’s Park Food Centre stalls to visit for your next Chinatown food adventure

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao

32 New Market Rd, People's Park Food Centre, #01-1064, Singapore 050032

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao

32 New Market Rd, People's Park Food Centre, #01-1064, Singapore 050032

Operating Hours: 11am - 9pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 11am - 9pm (Daily)

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