Chinese (Shanghainese) Restaurant in Shanghai, China: Jia Jia Tongbao Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Jia Jia Tongbao Heart
Restaurants and bars
Price: Very low

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +86 21 6366 3570
Address: 777 Zhongsan Nan Lu
Country: China
Food Style: Chinese (Shanghainese)

Our recent visit to Shanghai was a mission to discover the best Xiao Long Bao (xiaolong to the locals) in the city. We had heard about the famous Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant in the Yu Yuan area and had that high on our list, but we didn't know about Jia Jia Tongbao. Some locals said the soup dumplings were the best in town.
So we set off to find the tiny shop in an out-of-the-way area near the river. The signage is only in Chinese characters so we needed to rely on our local guide Phoebe to translate for us. The one giveaway is that the red sign outside the shop has a picture of a steamer of dumplings on the left hand side.
Similarly the menu is only in Chinese characters. We had memorised the characters for soup dumplings but not for the fillings so needed more help there.
As soon as we walked in late one night the staff seemed very surprised and somewhat amused to see Western people entering their establishment. However the minute we had ordered 10 pork, 10 crab, 10 shrimp and 10 chicken dumplings they immediately began the task of producing the dumplings to order. Dough was rolled, filling were arranged - dumplings were formed in the flash of an eye. The skill was breathtaking. Bottles of local REEB Shanghai beer (there is only one brand and one size available) appeared along with the thinnest plastic cups we have ever seen.
Steamers of piping hot dumplings were brought to the table with some trepidation on their part. Bowls of vinegar with the freshest shreds of ginger were placed on the table.
On opening the first steamer we know immediately that we had made the right decision. The dough was impossibly thin. The dumplings wobbled precariously. They were so fragile that it seemed they could never survive the journey from the steamer to our bowl. They were perfect!
Every now and then the obsessive food tourist has one of those defining moments where you know you are experiencing one of the world's culinary treasures. This was such a moment.
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