Every few days our team will scour Shanghai’s dining scene for scrumptious dishes that’ll fill your belly without emptying your savings. Not to discriminate, we’ll search everywhere from bicycle carts to chic venues with twenty-course tasting menus, knowing that any spot could have the next Dish of the Day.
If xiaolongbao are the darlings of Shanghai cuisine with their sheet-white wrappers and perfectly-twisted tops, than fried dumplings are the black-sheep with misshapen, sesame-seed-strewn bodies, and blackened crusts – they’re literally seedy and crusty. And we love these grungy-looking pork sacks for this very reason.
With xiaolongbao you bite into a soft balloon of juice before sinking your teeth into a meat-ball so finely ground it’s like tofu. It’s a safe, two-note texture, and a very good one, but for us, it’s missing that edge – the black crust that completes the holy trinity of soft, juicy, and crunchy. There’s nothing like puncturing that soft fried dumpling top, sucking out some pork juice and then chomping down on the crust with a blood-curdling crunch that’s not only ear-gasmic but actually satisfies our instinctual craving for crispy foods. So yes, it’s scientifically proven that shengjian mantou are delicious.
Most food streets offer decent fried dumplings, but if you want to go for the top-shelf, it’s hard to beat Yang’s Fry Dumpling. And we understand if you don’t wish to wait in line at the famous Huanghe Road and Wujiang Road locations (though the fast turnover ensures your dumplings will be piping hot), but there are plenty of other Yang’s sprinkled about the city. Yang’s’ shengjian mantou come by the fen or four dumplings for four (6RMB). Buy the desired amount, douse them in vinegar and chili paste, and enjoy.
See a full list of Yang’s locations here.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Huang la ding (yellow catfish and tofu hotpot) @ Shao Shan Mao Jia Cai
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
Have a recommendation for Dish of the Day? Let Shanghaiist’s food editor Benjamin Cost know at [email protected]!