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.
Fried dumplings (生煎馒头, shēngjiān mántou), the Shanghai staple of pan-fried pouches with pork and dough, are found sizzling in pans on almost every corner. But where do you find the best rendition, right? Many people tout Yang’s (we like it to), but we honestly don’t think their version is drastically different than the grease-grenades in your average street-wok – a bit more uniform and hotter due to high turnover, perhaps. The real dumpling in the rough is found at Da Hu Chun, which has been serving shengjian mantou practically since the dish’s creation almost a century ago.
While most street vendors use the “troubled water technique” (混水, hún shuǐ) or frying it on the pleated side, Da Hu Chun uses the “clear water method” (清水, qīngshuǐ) so the non-pleated side gets browned. The result looks uneven and shriveled, almost like it could use a couple presses of the bike pump, but it’s one of the most delicious pairings of pork and dough in town. Despite looking deflated, the wrapper feels puffy like a baozi, while also harboring that ear-gasmic crunch we love. And the inside is even better; slightly sweet, and so juicy you’d think you hit an artery of pork fat when you bite in. It’s not just a bland ball of gristle and grease like at most spots.
The goods run you 4RMB for four, but you’ll want to order at least eight even if you’re just one person. Like with its dumplings, Da Hu Chun’s appearance is slightly ugly and decrepit but inside is a warm and sweet deal.
Da Hu Chun – 11 Sichuan Nan Lu, near Yan’an Dong Lu (四川南路11号, 近延安东路). Tel: (0)21-6330-8402. Hours: 7:30am-8pm
71 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Jinling Dong Lu (云南南路71号, 近金陵东路). Tel: (0)21-6249-3683. Hours: 7:30am-8pm (closed between 2-3pm).
Last time on Dish of the Day: Braised pig face @ Wangdonglou
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
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