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?