LinLongFang - Shanghai, China
- Linlongfang "Specialty soup dumplings"
- 10 Jianguo E Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai, China
- 11 January 2019
The first thing I did when I found out I was headed to Shanghai was look up recommendations for the best place(s) to dine on Shanghai's biggest culinary claim-to-fame, and one of my absolute favorite things, xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. These little pockets of heaven are filled with ground pork and a rich, salty broth and then steamed in a bamboo basket. Many variations exist, such as those with egg or crab roe, but I think the OG pork xiao long bao are the bomb.
Now, it's kinda hard for someone who doesn't speak (literally any) Chinese to zero in on the level best places to eat local specialties, especially considering that in a metro area of 35 million people, the best places to eat these little gems are likely countless hole-in-the-wall local standbys. Most of the guides, blogs, and websites I used pointed me in the direction of Din Tai Fung, a MAJOR international chain based in Taipei, which I was wary of initially, but was getting more and more consistently listed as the best place to get XLB. Jake, my travel buddy, and I happened upon a branch in a mall next to the hotel and dropped in for a taste. The soup dumplings were tasty, but would turn out to not even COMPARE in either flavor or value to what we would experience the next night (and were much more expensive).
I found a wonderful blog post by ShanghaiGirlEats (a site I highly recommend for anyone visiting Shanghai!) about her favorite places to have local specialties. This girl knows her shit, and the first place listed on this entry was Linlongfang for their xiao long bao, which has a couple of locations in the city, although who knows if they're actually affiliated. We took a nice 75 minute walking trek from Lujiazui and meandered our way through various neighborhoods of the city to the French Concession to check out this place.
It's a hole in the wall, alright. Which meant it was either perfect or terrible. The place looks pretty shabby although not atrocious by Shanghai hole-in-the-wall standards, and Jake expertly Mandarin-ed his way into an order for us of 24 xiao long bao, a bowl of scallion oil noodles, and a large Suntory lager to share, which was served to us in plastic cups.
The noodles came out first, a healthy portion of wheat noodles with charred scallions on top.
These were otherworldly delicious. The scallion oil was incredibly tasty but not overpowering or greasy, and the charred scallions on top gave a nice smoke and crisp. We ate these embarrassingly quickly. Here's the thing, too: each bowl cost us just over $1. We definitely ordered a second bowl. I would have taken these home with me by the suitcase had I the chance.
The main event was the xiao long bao, which were made to order. That means that these two ladies behind a counter had a ball of dough and pork, and rolled the dough, filled the dumplings, steamed them, and brought them out. They were delicious––fresh, tender, with just the right amount of piping hot broth and tender pork. I also enjoyed dipping the XLB in the remaining scallion oil sauce from the noodles.
The whole meal cost us less than eight dollars. It was probably my favorite meal in Shanghai, and if I lived there (lolololol) I would be there probably three or four times a week. So. Fucking. Good.
Mainland China us now behind me! I have some additional reports on Shanghai coming up soon; stay tuned!