Xiaolongbao is one of the most representative delicacy of Shanghai. Nanxiang Xialongbao (南翔小笼包) is thought to be one of the best places to eat them. With many branches in Shanghai, we went to the one in Yu Garden (Yuyuan 豫园) as it was convenient for us.
There are different categories of xiaolongbao, segregated by price and the floor which you buy them from. The ground floor where everyone is queuing serves the cheapest xiaolongbao (though I am not sure if it’s because less ingredients are used or solely because it’s meant for take out so services charges are not incurred).
We went to the first floor as we didn’t want to wait in the rain and freezing weather. We ordered and paid at the counter and were given these chips. The red chip is for one basket of xiaolongbao and the orange chips are for four “guangtangbao” (灌汤包)- or soupy buns.
I am definitely impressed with these crab roe soupy buns (蟹黄灌汤包) (RMB 15 per piece) that come with straws. The opening on top of the bun is where you poke in the straw and sip out all the flavorful goodness of crab roe.
The flavor is profound and evident from the intense yellow soup that oozes out from the bun. Be careful to poke the bun gently, only poking the top layer and not poking all the way through to the bottom layer because the soup will leak out from the small sieve below onto the table – and that would be really wasteful !
The xiaolongbong – despite having said that it’s famous and popular, I thought it was rather average for me. The dumplings (RMB 25 per basket of 8 pieces) had a moderate amount of soup within but the skin is not as thin and not as delicate compared to the ones from Ding Tai Fong.
If you are lucky, you might be able to get a table by the window with the lake view.
Curious to the kind of dumplings that are served on the 2nd floor, we went up, and it was indeed another category of dumplings served in a more sophisticated environment too. The dumplings served are more premium, more expensive with ingredients like shark fin – something which I am against eating – so I think the soupy dumplings on the first floor was good enough to satisfy me 🙂
Getting there : Take Metro Line 10, exit at Yuyuan Station (豫园).