Nan Xiang Xiolong Mantou sells delicious Xiaolongbao or traditional Shanghai steamed buns, commonly known as soup dumplings in the U.S. Nan Xiang has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and in Qiu Xiaolong’s Inspector Chen murder mystery series. However, real Shanghainese turn their noses up a little at this place for being a tourist spot. Sure 90% of the customers you see eating at the second and third floor dining rooms are Chinese, but apparently they are all from out of town.
The Dumplings: The xiaolongbao are the traditional Shanghai style steamed soup dumplings that need to be carefully eaten, so the scalding soup inside the dumpling does not explode out of the dumpling into your mouth or onto your face. You need to eat it simultaneously using the chopsticks and the soup spoon to catch the soup. The crab roe dumping is excellent and combines the traditional pork filling with hairy crab meat and roe. The dumplings come in bamboo steamers that look like they have seen thousands of steamings.
They also sell the “giant xiaolongbao’ which is giant dumpling skin filled with fatty pork broth – almost a Tonkotsu ramen broth – that you suck out of the dumpling wrapper with a straw. The dumpling deflates as you drink the soup and you leave the wrapper uneaten at the end.
The Dipping Sauce: Rice vinegar with slivered ginger.
Location: Nan Xiang is located near the City God Temple and the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai’s old town. It is in the middle of a recreated old town plaza that is comprised mainly of restaurants and stores selling tourist goods – make sure you haggle at these stores. Outside the plaza area you can walk along Shanghai Old Street and see some of what remains of the real old Shanghai.
Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou, 85 Yuyuan Lao Lu, Shanghai