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.
Newbies to Jia Jia Tang Bao may not believe that this dusty rathole cranks out some of the tastiest, most elegant-looking xiaolongbao in town. I didn’t either until I saw their confident troupe of squat ladies crafting such delicate parcels at a grueling pace, like oompa loompas doing origami on speed. These weren’t people who’d give me a stale xiaolongbao.
And they didn’t. An impossible delicateness of both texture and flavor propels Jia Jia above the rest. Their xiaolongbao skins are veil-thin yet manage to retain the sloshing liquid and hefty meatball, but tear easily when you nip a hole in to suck the juice. The soup and meat are crisp and brothy, refreshing you instead of giving you the ‘itus’ experienced after eating your average street potsticker fried in MSG-laced jet diesel.
Our runner up favorite, Fu Chun, has comparably scrumptious flavor but we find the skin a mite thick, and saggy like a popped balloon. Some say it’s because Jia Jia’s bao are actually tang bao instead of xiaolongbao and are therefore more swollen with soup and have skinnier skins, but whatever the case, when we crave meat in small wrappers, we’re going Jia Jia.
Go to the one on Huanghe Lu, get there early (even before 8 am), and order 12 of either the pork (13RMB) or the crab and pork ones provided it’s the fall crab season (27RMB).
Jia Jia Tang Bao – 90 Huanghe Lu, near Fengyang Lu (黄河路90号, 近凤阳路). (0)21-6327-6878. Hours: 6:30am-10pm.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Seafood congee @ Chaoshan Sha Guo
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]!