Header image courtesy of Bao Menglong (via Unsplash)
Dumplings as synonymous with Shanghai—a staple in pretty much every Chinese diet. Plus, they’re absolutely delicious and come in many variations, from meaty wraps to veggie delights. It’s hard to go wrong with eating dumplings in its birthplace, however, like many specialities, there are a number of winners which take the handmade pouches to new heights. These are the places to get the best dumplings in Shanghai.
Opening its flagship on Yuyuan Road in 1995, Fuchun Xiaolong now houses four branches across Shanghai. Decked in old Shanghainese interiors, the eatery is popular during lunchtimes, and is famed for its iconic, thicker dumpling skin, which lends a more chewy texture than your typical xiao long bao. Guests can try a range of the dumpling flavours, including crab roe, shrimp, and minced pork—expect spilling, juicy goodness.
Fuchun Xiaolong, 650 Yuyuan Road, Jing’n District. Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6252 5117
Located north of People’s Square, Jia Jia Tang Bao is a hidden gem which serves fresh pork dumplings every morning (which are usually sold out by midday). Order your steamy baskets of eight to ten xiao long baos, which are perfect for sharing. There’s also the choice of mushroom and chicken xiao long bao, or crab meat dumplings, amongst others.
Jia Jia Tang Bao, 90 Huanghe Road, Huangpu, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6327 6878
Everyone in Shanghai, and in many parts of the globe, knows about Din Tai Fung, one of the icons of xiao long bao. Serving dumplings in many major cities in the world, the restaurant features pork and crab roe fillings, made in an open kitchen to admire the exquisite techniques behind the traditional dish. Although the flagship is actually in Taiwan, guests mustn’t be alarmed—the dish has been perfected over the years, making it an ultimate crowd favourite. Besides the xiao long baos, there are also different types of dumplings to choose from, including vegetarian-friendly variations.
Din Tai Fung, several locations across Shanghai
Founded in 1878, De Xing Guan is a small, two-storey noodle shop, resembling a local landmark. Chefs start preparing food from 4:00am every morning, making the noodles and dim sum from scratch to ensure everything is fresh every day. Xiao long bao is served in the traditional, Shanghai-style format, using a thicker dough wrapping, served with a rich, fatty pork filling.
De Xing Guan, several locations across Shanghai
A modern favourite, Paradise Dynasty is famed for its eight-colour Xiao Long Bao dish, which is naturally coloured with red sorghum, carrot, and spinach. Flavours range from cheese infusions to fine truffle flavours. Similar to Din Tai Fung, this eatery has made its way to other cities including Hong Kong. Although the exotic flavours may sound like a gimmick, each piece is surprisingly delicious, and when made with traditional cooking methods, tastes authentic too.
Paradise Dynasty, 8 Century Avenue, Pudong New Area, L3-36, Shanghai IFC Centre, Shanghai 200120 China | (+86) 21 5834 2291
As a more luxurious dumpling spot, Sui Tang Li is decked in elegant decorations, with premium prices to match. The menu takes a modern spin on xiao long bao, with a Spanish ham version and a vegetarian truffle dish, to name a few. The hairy crab xiao long bao is a spicy and scrumptious dish, ideal for those who may have munched on too many of the originals. Dine here for a gourmet taste of Shanghai’s best dumplings.
Sui Tang Li, Second Level, The Middle House Residences, No. 366 Shi Men Yi Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai, China 200041 | (+86) 21 3216 8068
Tucked away in a market lane near Yuyuan Road, Fu1039 is nestled within a century-old European-style mansion, spanning over three floors. The sophisticated diner certainly feels exclusive, but is open for all, and features reasonably-priced dishes on its menu. Guests rave about the crab meat xiao long bao and the minced pork xiao long bao. Made with a thicker dumpling skin, these scrumptious dumpling bites are a must for every Shanghai visit.
Fu 1039, 1039 Yu Yuan Lu, Changning District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 5237 1878