Shanghai: Jia Jia Tang Bao 佳家汤包

3 Nov

Since xiao long baos 小笼包 are synonymous with Shanghai (even though it apparently originates from Nanxiang, but I suppose Shanghai popularised it), wolfing down some the best xiao long baos around was my idea of a perfect induction to the city. We made our first stop at Jia Jia Tang Bao 佳家汤包, a highly rated hole in the wall xiao long bao joint on Chowhound and the blogosphere. Aside from the crummy shopfront (dude where’s your signboard?),  hygiene was also questionable; but that didn’t deter us the least.

We ordered a basket with plain pork filling and one with prawn and pork filling. As expected the skin of each xiao long bao was thin, and the soup was generous and flavourful. The plain pork one had a very rustic “porky” taste but it wasn’t too overbearing, while the prawn and pork one tasted milder and slightly sweet. We preferred the plain pork one. Although they were very good, they weren’t exactly mind-blowingly amazing, as my first experience with xiao long baos was in Din Tai Fung, Taipei (which definitely trashes the branches in Singapore and even Shanghai) and I eat the Singapore branches quite often – you definitely can’t beat the price here. It’s a no frills quick stop for your dose of authentic xiao long baos.

Btw, we came at an off-peak hour (at 2+pm) so there were seats. But otherwise be prepared to queue, and don’t come too late as they close when they’re sold out for the day.

And to compare, the only other xiao long baos I tried in Shanghai were from Din Tai Fung, Xintiandi (only to see if it was better than the Singapore branches) – they were many more times the price of JJTB for the same number of xiao long baos. You are definitely paying for the ambience, cleanliness and service in DTF. And in terms of taste, we honestly felt that JJTB trumped DTF by a bit. So if you don’t mind roughing it out a bit for good food, give JJTB a try.

Price: $ (10Y for the pork xlb, 12.5Y for the pork and prawn, but it’s quite a bit more for the crab roe and pork one)
Location: 90 Huanghe Lu, by Fengyang Lu
. Near People’s Square.

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