The Shanghai Xiao Long Bao Ride

Following a successful trip to Jia Jia Tang, we were reinvigorated with the idea that Shanghai truly was the home and mecca of the soup dump. And with the Shanghai Alleycat just around the corner, we were inspired to train for the race AND stuff ourselves silly with pork. Thus, the Shanghai XLB Ride was born!

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao Ride Map
Click for larger size, printable pdf here.

After a bit of research, we decided to hit up these five places: Jia Jia Tang, Nanjing Tang, Ling Long Fang, & Nanjing XLB. De Long Guan ranked high on our list, but its Jiangxi location is closed.. and shiieet, 5 spots is enough anyways. Next time!

Ride or Die

For our xlb adventure, we decided to enact a DSS, or dumpling standardization system. A lot of fancy abbreviating meaning that we would try the pork at each joint.

We started off by riding all the way east to the tried and true – Jia Jia Tang, and indulged in one order of the crab xlb, and one of the pork.
Crab Roe XLB
The Crab is a must try – on this day, the dumplings were especially pregnant with soup (whaa, did i just say that), and oozed crab oil when you touched them.

There was a lot of smiling. Read the full Jia Jia Tang breakdown here.

Next up, we took a straight shot up Xizang Lu to the food street of Shouming Lu in search of Nanjing Tang Bao. We found it at #42 Shouming Lu, a tiny place with no sign, just a bunch of steamers puffing away in front. Like the rest of Shouming Lu, Nanjing Tang Bao is … dirty. Flies, crap on the walls.. the kind of place where you don’t want to touch anything. But for the sake of xlb, and to the ire of our stomachs, we forged bravely on.

We ordered a steamer (8pcs) of the pork ($5RMB) & one steamer of the pork and shrimp ($8RMB). Although our surroundings made me want to vomit, Nanjing Tang’s xiao long bao were still better than what you get in NYC.

Nanjing Tang Xiao Long Bao
The wrapper was a little thick especially where it was bunched at the top – Sam attributes this to clumsy man hands. While the pork filling was surprisingly flavorful, enhanced by the addition of green onion, the amount of soup was seriously lacking. Pork & shrimp was not good and tasted like a poor rendition of a Cantonese wonton. Plus they were oversteamed, which made the wrapper gooey and stuck to the steamer. Come here only if you are in the hood and hungry for xlb.

Next up: Ling Long Fang. I had ridden past this place previously and wanted to check it out. It was a lot like JJT – the menu prices, the format of the dining room, even the gaggle of teenage girls nimbly pinching dough around pork. Hmm. We ordered a steamer of pork ($7.5RMB) and a steamer of crab ($81RMB) and settled in. In contrast to JJT, this place was squeaky clean and wasn’t really poppin (although it was 4pm when we rolled in).

Ling Long Fang
Pork xlb. The wrapper was super thin (god bless those teenage girl hands), but wrapped firmly around the pork and soup. The filling was flavorful, with a subtle, but meaty pork flavor and plenty of soup.

Ling Long Fang crab soup dumpling
Crab xlb. Very much like the JJT version – crabby deliciousness wrapped up in a thin layer of dough, but bonus points for more VS (visible solids). Crab meat, oil, juice, roe! The VS made it more manageable than the JJT version.

Turns out there is a reason JJT and LLF are so similar – they are owned by the same people! LLF is a great find, much quieter, cleaner, and closer.

With our bellies nearly maximum capacity, we rode on west in the direction of Nanjing XLB. This place is apparently quite famous, so we had to give it a go.

nanjing xlb
Pork xlb. These were pretty good, the wrapper was thin but a little tough. The filling was very flavorful (also featured green onion) and the pork was really fatty. I love fat, but in this case, it was probably too much fat. The soup was mostly grease rather than broth. Still made for a tasty dumpling though.

Nanjing xiao long bao crab and pork
Crab & pork. Also very tasty but with the same grease problem. There wasn’t a lot of crab flavor or texture, which seems to be the case when you mix a luxe ingredient with a common one (I’m lookin at you Ding Tai Fung.)

After Nanjing XLB, our arteries were too clogged with pork and soup to go on any further. So we skipped our last stop, Fu Chun, and headed over to Cotton’s instead for a celebratory drink.

Bellies full, tongues burnt.

Jia Jia Tang Bao
62 Liyuan Lu at Dixang Lu

Nanjing Tang Bao
42 Shouming Lu at Xizang Lu

Ling Long Fang
10 Jianguo Lu at Zhaozhou Lu

Nanjing XLB
Jianguo Lu at Gao’An Lu

Thanks TheEatenPath & GarySoup

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  1. lol this is super fun…

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