Shanghai & Sheng Jian Bao @ Xiao Yang Sheng Jian 小杨生煎

I'm writing this post for a friend, since she's going to be travelling to Shanghai! (Her flight is today actually.  It took me forever to start writing stuff because work is killing me.)  OH and Blogger is blocked in China, so if you're going there, be sure to bookmark their site since you probably won't be able to open it there.

I've never really liked sheng jian bao (生煎包).  I actually prefer xiao long bao (小籠包) more because there's soup inside! The difference between the two is that 小籠包 are sort of like dumplings that are steamed inside a wooden steamer and 生煎包 has a more bun-like skin that is pan fried.  Both are traditionally filled with pork.  All the 生煎包s I have eaten in Canada have a very thick bun skin, though not as thick as char siu baos (叉燒包).  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Chinese steamed buns (the actual bun itself), but I don't know why I don't really like these buns that are pan fried.  There is a place in Shanghai though which makes the best 生煎包 ever! I'd rather eat their 生煎包 over other 小籠包.

Xiao Yang Sheng Jian (小杨生煎) is one of the top four restaurants in TripAdvisor and was one of the most memorable restaurants of my trip.  Every time I eat a 生煎包 here, I think back to the one in Shanghai and how the ones in Vancouver will never be able to compare to that one.  They have 21 different locations in Shanghai! That's how popular they are.  It's not only a must-visit eating destination for travellers, but you'll see that most of the people there are local Shanghai people as well. 

At lunch time and times after work, be prepared to line up for your buns.  This place is definitely not very classy, but it was really a lot better than I had expected.  The location I went to was in a mall, and I don't really remember the name.  But I've been told all the different stores have the exact same buns, even though they are all wrapped and cooked fresh right before your eyes...

The buns itself look very different from the typical ones we see here in Vancouver.  The ones here are usually more bun-like, with a more noticeable notch at the top.  They are also more spherical without a flat bottom, rather than being dumpling shaped.  As you can see, the skin is really thin, unlike the ones here.  Although the skin still has the texture of Chinese steamed buns, it's thinness gives it a nice crispiness to it as well.  And since it's pan fried with green onions and coated with sesame seeds, it has a very nice flavour to it.

Another thing I don't like about the 小籠包 here in Vancouver is that their pork filling "meatballs" are usually coated with this slimy film.  It's just unappetizing  The "meatballs" here are huge and basically make up 90% of the bun since the skin is so thin.  You'd probably get a 60-40 skin to meat ratio for the ones here.  (Sorry for getting mathematical, but it had to be said.)  There probably wasn't anything that amazing about the pork filling since I don't really remember it, but the lack of sliminess is already good for me.  There wasn't anything negative that I remember about it either.  

A HUGE warning that I have to give about these buns are that they are extremely hot because they're freshly made.  And also, they have a lot of hot soup inside! The soup is the main reason why I like 小籠包 more than 生煎包, but if I would choose this over a 小籠包 any day since it has the soup AND it's pan fried.  

And I saved this for last, because I don't want you to think that the price factor was that important.  But for 5 RMB, you get 4 buns!!! Seriously, 5 rmb is so cheap considering that you can't get anything for the equivalent here in Vancouver.  You can't even buy a can of Coke for 75 cents anymore.  Of course, the standard of living is different and stuff, but still.  I think it's insanely cheap for something this good.

Also, I tried their other small wontons in soup there, but that wasn't very good.  It was more expensive than the four buns I think.  So I would really just recommend getting more of these if you're hungry!

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