Right before I left on my trip through South East Asia, I had to have a meal to get into the appropriate eating zone. I didn't have time for a drive to the San Gabriel Valley so I looked closer to home at Sawtelle Boulevard aka "Little Osaka." The number of ramen, sushi bars, and tea shops continue to expand by the day, and one of the expansions has included soup dumplings at Roc Kitchen. For good soup dumplings, normally you have to drive to Din Tai Fung so I was hoping the local variety would compare.
Roc's space is simple and modern - almost a warm industrial feel with dark walls and not one single thing hung on them. There are giant light colored chandeliers that look like overturned rambutans. I was dying to touch one, but I couldn't get close enough to it without causing a scene. I'm sure it's not as soft as I want it to be.
The menu items rival that of other places in the SGV. Rice cakes were the appropriate amount of chewy, though the chicken was slightly tough and overcooked. Still a good sauce with generous amount of cabbage and spinach mixed in.
The scallion pancake was salty and nice with a ginger soy dipping sauce, though I wish it was a little less cooked so it was more pillowy than crunchy - more pancake than toast. It did make a good scoop for other items.
Roc has a nice selection of seasonal vegetables. I enjoyed the asparagus, ok not exactly in season, but well cooked in a light garlic sauce with shimeji mushrooms.
But you're really here for the soup dumplings, Xiao Long Bao. They come 8 to an order, steamed and ready for consumption. We went with the shrimp and pork since you get pretty sizable chunks of shrimp. I'm a fan of meat and seafood combos.
They're best hot as the shrimp and pork mix with the seasoned warm broth inside. Decent flavor, good texture and nice taste. It's hard not to compare them to Din Tai Fung's, which are definitely better, but I like the westside option Roc offers. I don't always feel like trekking to the SGV, so it's good to have a closer choice to the beach, and with their expanded space, wait times are much less than they used to be. There's no alcohol served, which also means the bill will be reasonable. Two of us had 4 dishes and were only out $20 each, plus we still had a full tank of gas.
2049 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA