Ok, I have heard from a good source about the meaning of all these Baos:
What we have been eating, and what many hounds have been tirelessly pursuing ever since Melanie’s call for the best version in bay area is actually Xiao Long Tang Bao and not Xiao Long Bao.
Xiao Long Bao (XLB) on the other hand is a totally different beast. The difference is in the way the skin is prepared. XLTB’s skin is very thin and translucent when steamed (similar to water dumplings). XLB’s skin on the other hand is much thicker and white after steamed and is not tranlucent. If you look at the picture of Go Bu Li from the Potsticker thread above, that’s the kind. So XLB is very similar in shape and appearance as the Go Bu Li picture, except they’re much smaller in size (but still slightly bigger than XLTB)
Unfortunately the terms have been used interchangeably, but these are the “official” terms. And no, XLB’s don’t really have soups – the filling should be just juicy enough but no liquid should flow out from the filling, unless bitten into.
Yes, the white bready like exterior is a good description of the Northern style XLB. Well, I guess the XLB name is mainly used in the Northern context, and to distinguish itself from the Shanghai style XLB, the term XLTB is used to emphasize the more “soupy” nature of Shang Hai Xiao Long Bao.
But I guess in the southern part of China, the XLB has always meant the Shanghai style?