Xialongbao is a quintessential Shanghai dish. [Photo: wikimedia.org/Mr+G]
Any exploration of Shanghai cuisine would be sadly incomplete without a sampling of xiaolongbao. The Shanghai dish has proved so popular that it's taken wings across the continents. And in the city of its origin, it remains beloved by citizens from all walks of life.
Appropriately enough, xiaolongbao translates to "little steaming basket." It is a steamed food sometimes confused with a dumpling, but xialongbao's identity is delineated by its ability to hold steaming broth within.
Unsuspecting novices may scald themselves on the inner contents, but a seasoned pro knows that eating xiaolongbao is a process not to be rushed. Let your xiaolongbao cool a minute or so, nibble off part of the top, then slowly sip some of the broth out before popping the works into your mouth.
Inside, moist pork is the common filling, though pork mixed with crab meat and roe is a popular local variant.
Usually, xialongbao are eaten for breakfast or as a snack, but who can complain that recently they've been shouldering their way towards the main course of a meal?
In Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou, patrons enjoy the xiaolongbao that the restaurant has perfected for over a hundred years. Meanwhile, in another spot, Simon's Test Kitchen, delightfully modern takes on xiaolongbao fill the menu. Shanghai's got more xiaolongbao varieties than you can sip soup out of, and that's a good thing.
Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou
Address: 85 Yuyuan Lao Lu
Simon's Test Kitchen
Address: 561 Anyuan Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu