Yang’s Fry-Dumpling

Is it food?  Is it delicious torture?  I guess that Yang’s Fry-Dumpling could fall in both categories.  Let’s make one think clear from the get go, I like my food spicy, but before coming to Shanghai I had never dealt with food so “molten lava” hot.

Yang’s Fry-Dumpling wins the palm for the hottest food in Shanghai.  This shengjianbao dumpling restaurant is a Shanghai institution and comes  highly recommended all over the internet so I was really curious to get a taste of these famous dumplings.

I went to the  restaurant located near People’s Square on Huanghe Rd and to my surprise, there was no line.   I ordered 8 dumplings and a beef-curry soup.   I gave my receipt to the dumpling lady and was handed  8 perfect dumplings in a an old-fashioned enamel plate.

I made my way to the second floor and a server brought me my soup. The first floor was full.   In the middle of noisy Shanghai, I could see people silently eating their dumplings almost in a religious trance.  You can always tell how good a place is when it’s packed and you can hear a fly.

The dumplings have a thick chewy skin which is covered with sesame and green onions.  The bottom is fried and crispy and the filling is made out of pork and a nice fatty soup.

There is a vinegar dipping sauce and hot pepper on each table, the place itself is  spartan and practical chic.

I spent a couple of seconds observing the locals eat their dumpling to see how I could manage to eat mine without scalding myself. The most common technique seem to just bite a small hole in the upper part of the dumpling and suck the hot soup out of the dumpling.

Despite my ninja skills with the chopsticks, I manage to burn my mouth.  It was not a dramatic burn, but the pain was sharp enough for me to drop the dumpling in the plate and reach for my bottle of water.

I guess the pain wasn’t enough to deter me from finishing the whole plate and coming back a couple of days later for a second serving of these truly delicious dumplings.

The dumplings are so simple and  made from scratch in an open kitchen by a brigade of cooks toiling with precision to produce the perfect shengjianbao. I just stood there admiring their fine work wondering if I could ever prepare this in my little kitchen.

This is my new cooking project for next winter, let’s see how close I can come to the original.

I’ve added Yang’s Fry-Dumpling to the list of restaurant worth the trip itself. I wonder when I will have a chance to burn my tongue in Shanghai again?

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