If you’ve been to Shanghai and not had a taste of their legendary sheng jian baos, I would say – you’ve totally missed out. Go and book a ticket back there right this instance.
Ok, I’m kidding (just a little).
Admittedly, I’ve mainly only tried these mystical sheng jian baos from one key brand (and some other shop that is more famous for its jian bings, but that’s a story for another day), but they were so good I had them at least 5 times across different outlets in Shanghai over my 2 trips there (2013 and 2016).
With over 30 (maybe 40 now) outlets in the city, it’s super easy to find a Yang’s Dumpling (小杨生煎) shop to visit while you’re in the main parts and beyond.
Pan-fried to a nice brown crisp with a delectable oily sheen and with piping hot fragrant stock inside, these dumpling-bun hybrids (RMB16 for 6 mixed or RMB8 for 4 pork ones) are essentially a burst of happiness in little packages.
And burst they do – if you’re not careful, the hot tasty liquid just spurts everywhere upon first bite. So nibble slowly, you don’t want to waste that lovely, delicious soup within.
Besides sheng jian baos, Xiao Yang also does a range of soups and noodle soups.
I quite liked the Hot and Sour Beef Noodle Soup (RMB8) as it came with springy translucent noodles (a bit like glass noodles but not quite) and flavourful soup. The beef just so-so, but guess it’s not really the star of this dish.
And although I don’t usually like fish balls, I enjoyed their Fish Ball Soup (RMB8), which came with bouncy, firm fish meat balls (not the fake, flour-y tasting sort) and lots and lots of coriander (YASSS).
The best soup they have though, in my opinion, was the Pork Bone Soup (RMB10). Filled with healthy and fresh tasting fungus, vegetables and some shredded egg strips, the soup was light on the palate but enriched with a meaty essence – satisfying.
Out of the three versions of Sheng Jian Baos at Xiao Yang, I like the shrimp one the best. Packed with slightly spicy shrimp and pork, this delectable, crunchy yet moist soup dumpling was rich and full of flavour.
Just drizzle some of the vinegar they provide… and you’re all set. And oh… the sesame seeds on this particular one, I like very much. Extra crunch.
Ambience-wise, the 4 outlets I’ve visited (People’s Square, West Nanjing Road, HK Metropolis Mall and REEL Mall) were all bright, cheery and clean (the last one was part of a food court though).
Service is Chinese-style, meaning you decide quickly, pay quickly, collect your food, sit down, eat and leave.
But anyway, the point is – eat some of these damn xiao long bao + guo tie love children while you’re in Shanghai. Don’t live with regret!
P.S. I hear the ones at Da Hu Chun are pretty good too…
269 Wujiang Road
Tel: +86 21 6136 1391
Nearest Metro: West Nanjing Road
97 Huanghe Road
Tel: +86 21 5375 1793
Nearest Metro: People’s Square
489 Henan Nan Road 河南南路489号
Hong Kong Metropolis, Level 1 香港名都1F
Tel: +86 21 6333 0212
Nearest Metro: Yu Garden / Laoximen
Reel Mall (芮欧百货), 1601 Nanjing West Rd
(Inside the B2 food court)
Nearest Metro: Jing An
And many more branches…!