Shanghai: Dumpling Duel

A dumpling battle – buns with a fatty dose of deliciousness inside!

Shanghai surprised me in so many ways. For starters, it’s not old. In fact, it’s one of the most modern of China big cities with tall buildings, convenient pedestrian overpasses and subway system. There are no shortage of posh cafes and upscale restaurants. Quirky neighborhood hangouts and a nightlife scene that trumps all nightlife scene. I honestly didn’t think I’d like Shanghai this much.

But what puts Shanghai over the top and made it truly an awesome city for me is the food. More specifically – their dumplings. Fried or steamed, Shanghai dumplings is a cultural experience that I was simply addicted to morning, noon and night.

So which is better? Fried or steamed? Let the dumpling duel begin!

Steamed

Xiao long bao is the epitome of Shanghai dumplings. It is a type of steamed pork bun infused with soup otherwise known as soup dumplings.

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You can now get XLB with various meat fillings from crab to shrimp and pork. The crab meat is the most expensive at 24 RMB for one bamboo tray of about 12 dumplings. The pork will set you back about 12 RMB and is my personal favorite.

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Each batch at Lin Long Fang is made to order and steamed to absolute perfection. I like mine nipped so the porky, fatty juices flow onto my spoonful of vinegar, then slowly suck the soup ’til it’s dry and a dunk into the vinegar once more before eating it whole. Then repeat. I could have killed two trays of my own if I didn’t have to share with Gerard.

Fried

For 6 RMB (about $1!), you get 4 golf-size fried dumplings. Yang’s fried dumplings, also known as shen jian bao is a XLB on steroids.

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They’re fried in a cast iron pan until golden brown on one side then covered and doused with oil several times more before finally sprinkled with sesame and scallions.

The dough is thicker, chewier and more bread- like, perfect for keeping the fat juice smoldering hot even at first bite. The trick with these guys is to not dive right in. You’ll burn yourself with spewing hot soup. Instead, take a small and tiny bite to release some air and savour the soup slowly. I cheat by pouring vinegar into the tiny hole I’ve nipped off so I’d get more soup out of each bun before biting into the toasty, nutty shell.

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So what’s the verdict? Well, let’s just say, I’m not going to ever refuse a tray of steamed dumplings if handed to me. But given the choice, I’ll shell out the Yuan for another plate of fried dumplings any day. It’s got the juicy, fatty porky flavors of the steamed dumplings. But it’s the crispy, toasty sesame exterior, that very last bite of golden savory crunch that is to die for.

What kind of dumpling are you?

Lin Long Fang (steamed dumplings)
10 Jianguo Lu at Zhaozhou Lu
Shanghai, China 

Yang’s Fried Dumplings
Several locations. We ate them at: 
70 Nanjing East Road (above KFC)
and 97 Huanghe Lu


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  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    I adore fried dumplings as well but steamed are so much better for you – you can’t go wrong with either.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yes that is true but I only need 4 fried ones to one tray of 12 steamed ones. Surely that’ll shave off some calories. Lol

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    I adore fried dumplings as well but steamed are so much better for you – you can’t go wrong with either.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yes that is true but I only need 4 fried ones to one tray of 12 steamed ones. Surely that’ll shave off some calories. Lol

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Loooove it. So glad you guys liked Shanghai! I’ll probably end up settling down there one day. You’ll have to come back and visit 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      When you settle there?! For those dumplings… just tell me when. 😉

      • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

        Yeah…I could settle down there any day really. You never know 🙂 And there is SO MUCH Shanghainese food to love, that I have to show you guys!

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Loooove it. So glad you guys liked Shanghai! I’ll probably end up settling down there one day. You’ll have to come back and visit 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      When you settle there?! For those dumplings… just tell me when. 😉

      • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

        Yeah…I could settle down there any day really. You never know 🙂 And there is SO MUCH Shanghainese food to love, that I have to show you guys!

  • Anonymous

    Confession : I’ve never eaten a dumpling in all my life! Will have to try it out, delicious post!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Never ever?! Well Shanghai is a great place to start. Only down side is it’ll set the dumpling bar high. 🙂

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Confession : I’ve never eaten a dumpling in all my life! Will have to try it out, delicious post!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Never ever?! Well Shanghai is a great place to start. Only down side is it’ll set the dumpling bar high. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/houseofannie Nate L

    I can’t decide. I like them both!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Me too! Luckily when we were in Shanghai, we were able to grab some fried ones to eat while we wait in line for steamed ones. Lol

  • Gophur

    I can’t decide. I like them both!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Me too! Luckily when we were in Shanghai, we were able to grab some fried ones to eat while we wait in line for steamed ones. Lol

  • http://www.tammyandchrisonthemove.blogspot.com/ TammyOnTheMove

    Being German nothing can beat a German breadcrumb dumpling, however I do like the fried ones from China as well. I couldn’t get enough of them in my time there.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Omg, why have I not heard of German dumplings before?! Sounds delish! I must try it.

  • http://www.tammyandchrisonthemove.blogspot.com/ TammyOnTheMove

    Being German nothing can beat a German breadcrumb dumpling, however I do like the fried ones from China as well. I couldn’t get enough of them in my time there.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Omg, why have I not heard of German dumplings before?! Sounds delish! I must try it.

  • http://www.aandbctheworld.com/ a&b

    That looks absolutely delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating a dumpling!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I thought I was having dumplings before but this is the real deal and absolutely addicting. Nothing like it. 😀

  • http://www.aandbctheworld.com/ a&b

    That looks absolutely delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating a dumpling!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I thought I was having dumplings before but this is the real deal and absolutely addicting. Nothing like it. 😀

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    Health? Who needs health? I’ll totally go for the fried ones. 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! Yay for fried balls of fat! Lol

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    Health? Who needs health? I’ll totally go for the fried ones. 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! Yay for fried balls of fat! Lol

  • http://twitter.com/WorkMomTravels Francesca Folinazzo

    Given only your descriptions, I’ll say I’d go for the fried dumplings, too. In fact, I could go for some right now! 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      So could we! Wish we had taste-o-vision…

  • Francesca

    Given only your descriptions, I’ll say I’d go for the fried dumplings, too. In fact, I could go for some right now! 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      So could we! Wish we had taste-o-vision…

  • http://twitter.com/CaptainandClark Chris & Tawny

    You should have had a warning at the start of the post: Do Not Read If Hungry! Now I’m starving and it’s too late to get some delicious dumplings! 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Try writing while you’re hungry. 🙂

  • CaptainandClark

    You should have had a warning at the start of the post: Do Not Read If Hungry! Now I’m starving and it’s too late to get some delicious dumplings! 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Try writing while you’re hungry. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/L_e_a_h Leah Travels

    You’re simply killing me with these food posts. I also loved the dumplings in China, and of course, the fried ones were my favorites.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      I know .. it seems like we’ve done more eating than anything else in Asia. 🙂

  • Leah Travels

    You’re simply killing me with these food posts. I also loved the dumplings in China, and of course, the fried ones were my favorites.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      I know .. it seems like we’ve done more eating than anything else in Asia. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/ilivetotravel Raul

    You are making me VERY hungry. And making me want to run to my favorite dim sum place in Atlanta. Great pics by the way.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Raul! Hearing Atlanta makes me think about chicken and waffles…

  • Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    You are making me VERY hungry. And making me want to run to my favorite dim sum place in Atlanta. Great pics by the way.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Raul! Hearing Atlanta makes me think about chicken and waffles…

  • lola

    they both look DELISH but i’m gonna say i’m a fried gal first. YUMMY. i hope i come across a dumpling of two during my Cambodia adventures!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Fried almost makes anything better. 🙂

  • lola

    they both look DELISH but i’m gonna say i’m a fried gal first. YUMMY. i hope i come across a dumpling of two during my Cambodia adventures!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Fried almost makes anything better. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/TravelRinseRept Travel Rinse Repeat

    There is an amazing restaurant near my house that serves delicious Xiao long bao. I can only imagine what it’s like eating them in Shanghai…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We just heard there’s an XLB restaurant in SF. We’ll have to try it when we get back home

  • http://twitter.com/TravelRinseRept Travel Rinse Repeat

    There is an amazing restaurant near my house that serves delicious Xiao long bao. I can only imagine what it’s like eating them in Shanghai…

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We just heard there’s an XLB restaurant in SF. We’ll have to try it when we get back home

  • http://twitter.com/jettingaround Jetting Around

    Hmm… I think my vote goes to steamed dumplings, although I’ve had some good friend ones too. 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Probably the healthier choice. 🙂

  • http://www.jettingaround.com/ Pola

    Hmm… I think my vote goes to steamed dumplings, although I’ve had some good friend ones too. 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Probably the healthier choice. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/TheWrldWanderer The World Wanderer

    Dumplings are my favorite! I am definitely a steamed dumpling, though I enjoyed fried every now and then as well. I’m sure they are delicious in Shanghai.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      they’re special in Shanghai indeed. We couldn’t find anything like them anywhere is in China

  • http://twitter.com/TheWrldWanderer The World Wanderer

    Dumplings are my favorite! I am definitely a steamed dumpling, though I enjoyed fried every now and then as well. I’m sure they are delicious in Shanghai.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      they’re special in Shanghai indeed. We couldn’t find anything like them anywhere is in China

  • http://twitter.com/thatbackpacker Audrey Bergner

    Mmm, when I first moved to Korea I was hooked on dumplings – eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve since expanded my palate, but they are a go-to favourite! 😀 YUM!

    • http://www.gqtrippin.com GQ

      We had dumplings in Korea as well! With that red sauce.. mMMm

  • Audrey

    Mmm, when I first moved to Korea I was hooked on dumplings – eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve since expanded my palate, but they are a go-to favourite! 😀 YUM!

    • http://www.gqtrippin.com GQ

      We had dumplings in Korea as well! With that red sauce.. mMMm

  • http://www.yomadic.com/ Nate Robert

    I’m a massive XLB fan… I’ve been eating the local version here in Australia, without much luck I’m afraid to say. I need to get back to Shanghai! Great, mouth watering article, thanks guys.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Yeah. It’s hard to match these bad boys anywhere else. We just heard there’s a XLB restaurant in San Francisco. We can’t wait to get back home and try that place out.

  • http://www.yomadic.com/ Nate Robert

    I’m a massive XLB fan… I’ve been eating the local version here in Australia, without much luck I’m afraid to say. I need to get back to Shanghai! Great, mouth watering article, thanks guys.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Yeah. It’s hard to match these bad boys anywhere else. We just heard there’s a XLB restaurant in San Francisco. We can’t wait to get back home and try that place out.

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  • Cherlene Bauzon DeGuzman

    Can’t wait to try those dumplings. Will visit one or both of the spots you posted up. Chris and I are all about food!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Visit both! And smuggle some home for us, please. 😉

  • Cherlene Bauzon DeGuzman

    Can’t wait to try those dumplings. Will visit one or both of the spots you posted up. Chris and I are all about food!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Visit both! And smuggle some home for us, please. 😉

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