p Picks and Pecks: review: 佳家汤包 (jia jia tang bao)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

review: 佳家汤包 (jia jia tang bao)

Address: 90, Huanghe Lu (黄河路90号) - near Fengyang Lu

It was a cold December day when we were walking along People's Square in search of lunch. A friend who worked in Shanghai gave us the name of a hole-in-the wall steamed xiao long bao stall - so as we walked we kept looking down alleyways in hopes of spotting this hidden gem.

Well, we could have saved ourselves the trouble. When we walked past, there was a line at least 20 people long waiting outside the shop! In the bitter cold, families with young children, older people, all stood for a place in line to secure themselves a bamboo steamer fill. The more experienced ones were nipping across the street to buy styrofoam containers of fried dumplings from the store across the street, while the rest of us huddled and hoped that people would finish their meals and vacate quickly. It didn't help that you could hardly see into the fogged up windows, rubbing it in that the people inside were warm and fed.

Jia Jia Tang Bao is a no-nonsense kind of place. By the time you get a seat, you would already know what you want from the menu strips pasted on the wall. Unfortunately we didn't get there early enough so some baos were already sold out. Nevertheless we managed to order some plain pork xiao long bao and some with hairy crab roe.

When the baos arrived in their stacked bamboo steamers (a dozen to a steamer), our fingers had sufficiently thawed to be able to handle the chopsticks. Thank goodness too! The skins on these baos were some of the thinnest I had tasted and each one was full of soup. Lining the bottom of the steamer seemed to be a pad made from reeds(?) which worked quite well to stop the dumplings from sticking and the delicate wrappers tearing.

Din Tai Fung? Really? No comparison. These were so much better. For full disclosure, we did go to a Din Tai Fung in Shanghai as well, so that we could better compare the two baos. So far there are few xiao long baos that compare to these.

Address: 90, Huanghe Lu (黄河路90号) - near Fengyang Lu