Want to suck on some succulent xiaolongbao, but don’t know where to go besides the tourist trap of Yu Yuan or Din Tai Fung (which really isn’t actually Shanghainese)? All through this week, Shanghaiist has got your back. We’ve checked out as many xiaolongbao places as our stomachs can bear, from the highest rated locations on Dianping to places we’ve heard of through word-of-mouth, and now we’re giving you the down low on what to expect. Track all the places we try here, and feel free to give suggestions of other great XLB destinations in comments!
Jia Jia Tang Bao
Location: 62 Liyuan Lu near Nanchezhan Lu; 丽园路62号，靠近南车站路
Price: 12RMB for 12 pork xiaolongbao (纯鲜肉小笼包); 12RMB for corn and pork xiaolongbao (玉米鲜肉小笼包)
If you ask most locals where the best xiaolongbao in town is, chances are they’ll direct you to a Jia Jia Tang Bao. With several locations and a big reputation, lunchtime crowd lines often snake out of the little eateries. It’s made it to the Miele Guide and the Dianping reviews go on for 10 pages. Obviously, no xiaolongbao list would be complete without a mention of this place so we had to check it out.
The Pork Xiaolongbao: ** out of 5
SKIN: Someone must not have been paying close attention because our serve was way over steamed, resulting in a soggy, transparent mess of wrapping. We’re thinking it was a fluke since photos from Phat in Shanghai showed healthy looking skin. We came after the lunch crowd and the staff were all sitting down eating their own meals so they probably weren’t keeping a close eye on what was cooking.
FILLING: The meat was decent but nothing extraordinary.
SOUP: They were pretty generous with the soup. When you picked each little guy up, you could see and feel the juice inside weigh down the xiaolongbao.
The Corn and Pork Xiaolongbao: *** out of 5
SKIN: They prepared both lots at the same time so this one was also overdone too unfortunately.
FILLING: The addition of corn is a simple but powerful pairing. When you’re on to eating your eleventh or twentieth xlb (as we were) the lightness the corn adds is an extremely welcome touch. Although there were only one or two kernels of corn in each bao, it’s enough to take away from the heaviness of the pork so you can continue stuffing yourself. Thumbs up.
SOUP: It avoided the common pitfalls of xiaolongbao soup. It was neither too oily nor too salty.
The location/service/other: *** out of 5.
One of our staffers described it as a “no nonsense xiaolongbao joint” and we think he hit the nail right on the head. With a bright red and white color scheme, the store itself is tidy but not pristine. We came on the later side of lunchtime around 2pm and there were no crowds to be found at the Liyuan location.
Overall: We’re willing to overlook the over-steamed xiaolongbao as a one off mistake. The corn and pork combination was genius and the pure pork holds up as the classic go to snack. The best thing is, you can enjoy Jia Jia Tang Bao at multiple locations. One commenter has already mentioned that their newest location at Xizang Lu and Jingling Lu is quite nice.