Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Xiaolongbao: Taiwan challenges Shanghai supremacy?


Kent Wang
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have recently heard from two different friends that they believe that the best xiaolongbao are to be found in Taipei and not Shanghai. Can this possibly be true? It's like saying that the best Peking duck is not in Beijing or the best New England Clam Chowder is not in New England.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have recently heard from two different friends that they believe that the best xiaolongbao are to be found in Taipei and not Shanghai. Can this possibly be true?

Of course not true!

The best xiaolongbao are to be found in Hong Kong. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found chefs and food-writers in Taiwan to be generally quite disparaging about Mainland Chinese food on my last visit there. They saw it as being unsophisticated, and too heavy and oily. In particular, the Ding Tai Fung chain of xiao long bao restaurants are a bit snooty about Shanghai xiao long bao and INCREDIBLY serious about perfecting their own recipes and maintaining standards. I have to say their xiao long bao were pretty excellent, and the ones I had today at the Nanxiang place in Shanghai were probably less fine though the general atmosphere there is fun. Generally speaking, I think the old-established Mainland places sometimes rest too much on their laurels, and you often find greater culinary finesse in newer restaurants...

Fuchsia

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nanxiang, and all the places in the Temple of the City God are total ripoffs. I had some of the worst xiaolongbao in my life there. They bus in all the tourists there -- shame! To think that so many visitors think that is what xiaolongbao are all about.

When I was in Shanghai this spring I had some terrific xiaolongbao at a cheap breakfast place right around the corner from my grandmother's.

Realistically, it is probably hard to truly judge who makes better xiaolongbao. Both Shanghai and Taipei are huge enough cities that the best five xiaolongbao from each city are probably of equal quality. You are right in saying that the political and cultural attitudes are really what is at play here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have recently heard from two different friends that they believe that the best xiaolongbao are to be found in Taipei and not Shanghai. Can this possibly be true? It's like saying that the best Peking duck is not in Beijing or the best New England Clam Chowder is not in New England.

the concensus from most people in the know, that i know, including my uncle who i hold to be the expert on where to get the best [fill in the blank] in taiwan, is that Din Tai Fung, a chain restaurant that started in Taiwan, has perfected the xiao long bao. the founder originally is from mainland china (though suprisingly not shanghai) and moved to taiwan and started his xlb business there. i've never had xiao long bao in shanghai, but i've heard XLB better than DTF is hard to find. i think Kao Chi on Yong Kang, right next to the main Taipei DTF location on Xinyi road has just as good if not better xiao long bao than DTF. both places, in my opinion, have really perfected the technique. they really are quite amazing and have ruined any other xlb experience i have here in the states. the soup and pork filling is dense, rich, flavorful, and the skin is impossibly thin. even the side of finely julienned ginger is perfect.

this guy on flickr is well traveled and has eaten many xiao long bao. he claims these he found in shanghai to give Din Tai Fung's xlb a run for their money: http://flickr.com/photos/yusheng/11606203

it may just be the availability and marketing of really great xiao long bao from din tai fung that has put taiwan on the map. they have locations all over asia and 1 in the states. soup dumplings are also very popular in japan and there is a DTF cult following because of their branches in japan. i'm sure that has a lot to do with it as the japanese are maniacal about products they like. however, i have eaten at DTF branches in Tokyo and Kyoto, they are not as good as the Taipei branch. i've heard the only stateside DTF branch in Arcadia is not very good either. shanghai has yet to produce a widely spread chain that makes as consistently good xlb.

Edited by yimay (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never had the taipei DTF, but the ones at DTF in Shanghai do have their own style and they are up there as the best or close to it in Shanghai. I think as Fiore said, it is very typical in all the big Chinese cities for the large tourist-driven 'famous' restaurants to diminish into worthlessness over time. Though I'd say Quanjude is still great and expensive duck. The same cant be said for Nanxiang Xiaolongbao. Terrible terrible. Its too bad, I kind of enjoy the area lot too. But seeing 50 million people lining up endlessly to have thick-skinned xiaolongbao and get the wrong idea about it just bring a tear to my eyes. In my opinion the best xiaolongbao to compete with DTF are scattered throughout the city at nameless little holes-in-the-wall. Too bad that I never documented them properly. A good xiaolongbao IS one of the top snacks for me in China. But as hzrt8w said, the best are in HK!!

Anyway I should stop this far before I continue ranting about the ill effects of nanxiang..

Anyone ever been to YiYuan gardens? way outside of the main districts of Shanghai. I never went back there after my first day in shanghai so I don't even recall the full name or exact location, but it was similar to nanxiang in reputation, and busloads came in droves to pick up red boxes of xiaolongbao. They were decent of course, but no better.

Edited by jokhm (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...