You can’t leave Shanghai without eating…

Xiao long bao (Chinese soup dumplings). “This may not be the most unusual recommendation to people who live in Shanghai,”  But there’s cause these dumplings are the city’s trademark dish. I and most people I know crave these dumplings constantly.” There are several different schools of thought about what makes xiao long bao so addictive but, the difference between an ordinary bowl and a melt-in-your-mouth one comes down to three things. First, the wonton wrapper must be thin enough to give the dumpling a satisfyingly bursting bite but also strong enough to endure the piping hot soup it contains. Second, the stuffing, usually a tangy mixture of pork and gelatin, must be fatty adequately to melt in your mouth. And third, the soup must be loaded with flavor.

How to eat it: “I don’t know why, but xiao long bao is always burning, burning hot,.” The traditional resolution is to break open the top of each dumpling and let it air out before dropping it in vinegar then consuming it.

Where to eat it: While many up-scale options exist in Shanghai, I recommend Crystal Jade. The restaurant’s community, Xintiandi, is well-touristed, and it’s part of a local Cantonese chain. But of all Shanghai’s dumpling spots, Crystal Jade wins—consistently–in each of the three categories (wonton, stuffing, and soup).

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