Soup dumplings are synonymous with Shanghai, so it was imperative that we indulge in more than a few steamers full during our stay in the city.
Our first glimpse of the fiercely competitive local xiao long bao scene was at Jia Jia Tang Bao, a beloved institution known for its impeccably constructed steamed-to-order dumplings. Locals and visitors alike gather here for dependably delicious, albeit a touch expensive, xiao long bao.
Inside this no-frills, fluorescent-lit shop located just north of People’s Square, orders are taken at the front counter (no English is spoken, but there’s a translated menu) and dumplings are delivered tableside. The selection depends on the time of day. Since we dined during the evening hours, a few varieties, including the ever-popular crab and pork dumplings, were no longer available.
We had read on various websites and travel publications that the restaurant usually boasts long lines, but fortunately there were none during our visit.
Shredded ginger in vinegar, an essential xiao long bao accoutrement, was available for a nominal fee. Score one for the San Gabriel Valley’s XLB joints, where this condiment is always plentiful and free.
A bowl of hotter-than-it-looked chili oil was also on hand to spice as we liked. The Astronomer and I were both happy downing our dumplings without much added heat.
The dumplings, stacked in pyramidal fashion to keep from encroaching on our communal table mate’s space, arrived soon after we found a seat.
The first dumplings on the scene were filled with pork and luscious, porcine juices. The filling was delicately balanced with a touch of ginger and scallions, while the skins were thin-enough and pliable.
These xiao long bao were definitely solid, but not head and shoulders above what we have here in Los Angeles. Score two for the XLB joints in the San Gabriel Valley.
On the other hand, Jia Jia Tang Bao’s pure crab soup dumplings were the greatest xiao long bao I’ve ever encountered anywhere. The filling, rich with roe and brimming with sweet meat, was luxurious to the nth degree. I still think about these precious parcels every day…
Score one for Shanghai.
Let’s call it a tie.
Jia Jia Tang Bao (click on link for Google map)
90 Huanghe Road
Huangpu, Shanghai, China
Phone: +86 21 6327 6878
Where to scratch a xiao long bao itch in Los Angeles:
- Din Tai Fung – Arcadia
- Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House – San Gabriel
- Wang Xing Ji – San Gabriel
- Southern Mini Town – San Gabriel
- Mama’s Lu – Monterey Park
- Dean Sin World – Monterey Park
Our previous culinary exploits in the People’s Republic of China:
- B-Ballin’ in Beijing
- Eating in Chaoyang
- Farewell Fuwa*
- Maison Boulud – Beijing
- Peking Duck at Da Dong (with a side of baseball)
- The Great Wall of China
- Track ‘n’ Snacks in the Bird’s Nest
- Bo Innovation
- Eating in Hong Kong I
- Eating in Hong Kong II
- Eating in Hong Kong III
- Eating in Hong Kong IV
- Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
- Lánxīn Cāntīng – Shanghai
- Postcards from the Road: People’s Republic of China, Better Late than Censored
- Shanghai Suppin’: Dumpling Soup & Rice Cakes
- Striking Street Food Gold: 10 Fabulous Finds on South Yunnan Road – Shanghai