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Soup Dumpling on No Reservations-Shanghai

Hey Gary Soup, did you catch the segment on soup dumplings on No reservations-Shanghai?

They went to NanXiang Steamed Bun Restaurant and Yang's Fried Dumpling stall in Shanghai.

Soup Dumplings galore. Steamd , fried, large, small.

He also got some smelly tofu too, as did Andrew Zimmern in Taiwan. Yeah, I was pretty fricking hungry.

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  1. Man did all the XLB look incredible. The giant one at NanXiang where you suck the soup through a straw, and then apparently don't (?) eat the wrapper, was especially intrguing.

    The 14-day-aged-in-gray-goo stinky tofu on Zimmern's show looked beyond disgusting, although it was funny seeing him face something he couldn't swallow. Easy for me to say because I've never had stinky tofu.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W

      I was recently in Shanghai and had those large soup dumplings and you defintely eat the whole thing - it is not just soup!

      1. re: Debbie W

        I love stinky tofu. You can buy jars of it in Chinese supermarkets in San Gabriel Vally in SoCal.

      2. Oh, that black-grey stuff looked really un appetizing! But now I want soup dumplings!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MsDiPesto

          "Jellied mop-water"-- his description of the black-grey stuff/chicken-eye bean curd was priceless. An all-timer.

        2. Oh, those dumplings looked soooooo good!!! It had my husband convinced to go to dim sum next time we're in SF, and he doesn't usually LIKE dimsum!! Now I have to research who has the best soup dumplings in the Bay Area....

          1. Damn, I missed that. I'll have to check for a re-run. Somebody ought to tell AB that the NanXiang's Xiaolongbao have gone downhill, and he should have gone to Jia Jia Tang Bao.

            He got it right with Xiao Yang's, though. Was the stinky tofu on the same street as the fried dumplings? There's a cart there where two women make the best fried stinky tofu I know of -- crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside like a campfire marshmallow.

            Xiaolong bao, shengjian bao and stinky tofu.... my three favorite Shanghai bites.

            1. For the record, here's Xiao Yang's Fried Dumpling Stall on Wujiang Lu. Is this the one he went to? Two views of the goodies: right side up, and upended to display the degree of browning on the bottom.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Gary Soup

                I think that is the place. It showed them flipping entire racks of raw dumplings into the oil for frying. It was amazing, snowy white up top and then when you flip it over it is golden brown and gorgeous.

                I love the fired stinky tofu, but I really could have lived without seeing how they made it. I think that was the problem with Zimmern, he saw how they were made and then had to eat it. It was especially bad with the 1000 year old eggs because the egg yolk is also greyish looking.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  My only criticism of Xiao Yang's shengjian bao are that they cram so many into a pan that they touch sides and come out square-ish rather than round. You can't eat shapeliness, though.

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Yep, that is what they look like on TV. You CAN eat shapeliness though, with your eyes. of course who am I to quibble, I can't get it right now can I?

                  2. re: Phaedrus

                    I'm starting to see a pattern w/ Zimmern. He seems to prefer the stranger foods derived from animals. But then he seems to get hung up on vegetarian products like stinky tofu, durian, and horchata.

                    I'd rather eat durian than rotten, fetid shredded beef in Morocco!

                    1. re: Hapa Dude

                      Yes, there is not a bird foot or insect he doesn't want to eat (although even he couldn't deal with the giant grubs in the Philippines). I have to say, I am going to try some of those insects the next time I am in Mexico.

                2. I caught the re-run Friday night, and was frankly disappointed -- 10 minutes of stock travelogue stuff in an hour-long show. More details on my thoughts here:


                  1. Have tried the NanXiang steamed bun's version of soup dumplings in Shanghai a long time ago. They also opened up a branch in Hong Kong which I tried last year. I wasn't too impressed both times as I like the thinner-skin-version - I guess that's more of a Cantonese way of making soup dumpling.

                    The best soup dumplings I had were actually in Hong Kong - the ones stuffed with Shanghai hairy crabs roes and meat (also featured on the same episode of No Reservation). The explosion of crab juice and roe and flavor - God! It is driving me crazy now!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      Most Shanghainese also consider a thin wrapper a desirable quality. It's just that the Nanxiang no longer lives up to its own former standard, which was the Gold Standard for XLB.

                      I was fortunate enough to visit the Nanxiang Xiaolong Mantou Dian (to use the full name) in early 1992, less than a month before they closed for major renovation and reconfiguration with an eye to garnering more tourist dollars. The quality of the XLB began to decline a few years after that. My theory is that they have moved to industrial-strength wrappers to reduce the breakage in the hands of inexperienced users. The thick wrapper approach seems to have begun with the takeout window, where the 16 dumplings are dumped unceremoniously from a steamer into a pile in a styrofoam "boat" with no ill effects, and I think it gradually crept upstairs. My rule of thumb is that at least one XLB wrapper in ten should break even in the hands of the most skillied chopsticks user, or the skins aren't being made delicate enough.

                    2. I finally watched this episode.

                      Dear God so I want some soup dumplings now!!! Those looked incredible. I tried to satisfy my dumpling need by ordering in Chinese food last night but it didn't really do the deed.

                      My parents just got back from a 3 weektrip to China and had amazing dumplings...soup and other.

                      I guess I'll just have to wait until I'm visiting NYC to get the good stuff (DC doesn't really have much to offer it seems in this department). And now I know the proper way to eat this little guys so I don't do serious damage to my mouth and face.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Elyssa

                        hi Elyssa,

                        Unfortunately NYC is not the best place for soup dumplings and Chinese food in general. May be in Flushing you can get better ones, but certainly not in the Chinatown in Manhattan. You will need to go to Cali, or Vancouver or Toronto to get great soup dumplings in North America.

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          I hope their "amazing dumplings" weren't the variety filled with recycled cardboard!

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            go to Shanghai Tide in Flushing

                          2. I found it confusing that the subtitles said xiao long bao for the giant dumpling with the straw, but whatever his guide said seemed to be only two syllables. Is that how it's pronounced?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I am having Dumpling Soup cravings, since I discovered TAN KY MI GIA. See seperate Topic. And I have no problem making a meal out of them in hot weater, that is 70's in San Diego. :)

                              It got me over the Pho and Noodle soups.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                xiao long bao literally means small basket dumplings. Which is the smaller dumpling. The dumpling on steroids is tang bao. Which is literally soup dumpling. At least that is what I can pick out from the Chinese.

                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                  The "xiao" in xiao long bao actually refers to the steamer, not the dumplings, so they are literally "dumplings in small steamer." Nonetheless, the dumplings are invariably small and the steamer can be quite large. as with the the Nanxiang's 16-dumpling steamers. To confuse matters, the large duimpling (with the straw) in the small steamer is usually called "tang bao" and never xiao long bao.


                                  1. re: Gary Soup

                                    Thanks. His guide said "tang bao" and the closed captions rendered it as "xiao long bao." I guess the captioner must have been relying too much on written notes.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      "Tang" means soup and the "tang bao" have only the liquid in them. Has anyone ever tried these? The guide said that you don't really eat the wrapper, it's all about the soup.

                                    2. re: Gary Soup

                                      I think you meant to say that "xiao" means small and "long" means steamer.

                                      1. re: dty

                                        What I was saying was that the "xiao" was descriptive of the steamer's size, not the dumplings'.

                                2. I finally found them in Dallas. If anyone is in the area there is a great little retsaurant called Shangha's near I 635 and preston road. Authentic and juicy. I haven't had a decent dumpling until then.