An absolute must-do when visiting Shanghai is of course savouring every possible xiao long bao (小笼包 soup dumpling) you let in sight (not actually kidding).
You can literally find xiao long bao’s in every Chinese/local restaurant, but how can you ensure that you’re not wasting your calories on what’s just not simply the best?
One of my all time faves (and a lot of other people’s favourite too – as indicated by the lines) is Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包，黄河路90号) at 90 Huang He Road. There’s a few different locations but I love going to this one every time as it also gives me the chance to check out other things in the area.
Usually there’s a line by the time we get there (8+ people), and probably at least a 15 – 20 minute wait. This particular store is quite small, only seating around 30 people, but Jia Jia Tang Bao is definitely not a “wine and dine” kind of venue, everyone has quite good dining etiquette here, and recognise that once you’re done eating you should promptly leave so more guests can come in.
The menu is in Chinese and situated just to your left (by the cashier) when you enter the front door. The top row (three in the middle on red plaques) refer to (L-R) salted egg yolk with pork xiao long bao’s (28 RMB), crab & pork xiao long bao’s (35 RMB) and pure crab meat xiao long bao’s (99 RMB). (They might change the menu around so just in case only use this as a guide!)
On the bottom row of the menu (above) you have some soup’s (on the left), which are seaweed & egg skin soup?! (8 RMB), and then a chicken & duck blood soup (9 RMB). On the right you have some drinks you can order too including sprite, coke & soy milk (out of your old-school glass coke bottles). Once you’ve paid the lady/owner will give you a receipt to hold on to as it will have your order number (the staff will reference when giving you your xiao long bao’s).
As you move further in, you’ll see the amazing talent that makes Jia Jia Tang Bao’s xiao long bao’s ever so desirable as they freshly make & steam every soup dumpling!
Usually we go for the salted egg yolk pork xiao long bao’s (28 RMB) – one basket each, and share a crab & pork xiao long bao (35 RMB). Once you’ve paid you go to your table (or wait by the side) and only once you’re seated the Jia Jia Tang Bao’s famous xiao long bao’s will come out.
Above, you have the salted egg with pork xiao long baos which aren’t actually too salty, instead it just gives the whole xiao long bao a heavier flavour.
You’ll notice here there’s a little teapot in the right hand corner. This actually contains the vinegar. However you can also opt for ginger shreds + vinegar (which you have to order when buying your xiao long bao’s as this costs 5 RMB extra).
But honestly, Jia Jia Tang Bao’s xiao long bao’s are as good as they look! And definitely one of the best xiao long bao’s in Shanghai that aren’t going to show up all popped with broken skin when they come out to you!
Where’s your favourite xiao long bao restaurant in Shanghai? Check our Klook for other foodie adventures to try out while in Shanghai.