Shanghai’s Nanxiang – 3 Levels of Xiao Long Bao
[Shanghai] Xiao Long Bao is available all over Shanghai, with varying qualities. Most had thick chewy skin, and you kind of wondered if there was paper in the fillings. But there were some street side stalls that would throw off your footing, swearing to bring some back if you ever could.
Shanghai’s most celebrated Xiao Long Bao could be found at 南翔馒头店, within the charming Yu Yuan 豫园 at the Old Town God’s Temple precinct. Amongst the scenic buildings, exquisite Jiuqu bridge, old trees who spoke stories and red autumn leaves, you could see one long queue. One really long queue.
At Nan Xiang, there were 3 different levels of service and pricing. The ‘commoners’ would queue up on the ground level for 10 hot piping dumplings at 20 RMB. Most would just gobble the entire box once they grabbed their hands on one. An average queue time was about an hour, at least you could isten to street performers sing their lungs out.
On level two, there was a long line with stools for you to wait for about 30 minutes. My advice: Guard your seat, ignore what the others behind tell you. They might tell you stories so that they could get in front of you. Remember.
If you were willing to pay more, then go all the way upstairs and spend at least 150 RMB for an almost immediate seat.
Nanxiang was a town near Shanghai where the Xiao Long Mantou was invented. Therefore, you MUST eat the Nanxiang Xiao Long Bao, so compact yet meaty that would splash up tasty thick soupy broth that might just scald your tongue and flow to your heart. The skin was almost paper-thin, ignoring fragility while you picked a dumpling up with your chopsticks.
The King Size Nanxiang Crab Roe Steam Soup Bun was a winner in every way, while you first sucked up the broth through a straw, saving the best meat for last. A pity for the thick skin and mess anyway.
Two specialist Xiaolongbao restaurants are often regarded as the most authentic, one of which is Nanxiang with 110 years of history. Despite the wait, despite the extremely bad service (I shoudn’t talk about it), despite the old granny who cheated me of my seat, Nanxiang Xiaolongbao was well worth.
Shanghai Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, 南翔馒头店(豫园路店) 黄浦区豫园路85号 上海
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April 27, 2017