Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Battle of XLB, Shanghai

Before my trip to Shanghai, I googled on the best places to have Xiao Long Bao, a notable Shanghainese delicacy which we can also enjoy in Msia too. But since XLB originates from Shanghai, I should look for the best to try, no?
Googling gave me 3 most arguable results- their fans claimed it to be the best.. so I gave it a go when I was in Shanghai..

Pitstop 1: Nanxiang Mantou Dian, Chen Huang Miao
XLB was said to be originated from Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai. And Nanxiang Mantou Dian is one of the restaurant that said to serve authentic Nanxiang XLB. You wont miss it when you are at Chen Huang Miao- the queue for the XLB was really long. Luckily, it was fairly quick wait..
Was the wait worth it? No. The skin was very thick and coarsely made, the filling was with some soup and very porky, though not fragrant. Heard that if we went higher floors of this restaurant, the XLB quality gets better, but we have to pay a premium. We were rushing off to other places, so we skipped after trying ground floor XLB.
Pitstop 2: Crystal Jade, Xintiandi
It was rather ironic that a Singaporean chain purportedly serves the best XLB in Shanghai. But we gave it a go nonetheless. 4 huge XLB in the steamer- translucent skin, so clear that I could see the soup swishing inside. A tiny bite allows me to slowly savour the sweet, aromatic broth. The amount of soup they managed to wrapped in the XLB was amazing- and after enjoying the silky soup, dip the pork filling with vinegar and ginger..bliss...
We had other dishes there too since it was brunch time..
The fried turnip was nice and puffy
The flaky crust matched wonderfully with the slightly wet turnip filling. A sweet snack though.
Stir fried rice cake..
A typical local dish, Crystal Jade's version was satisfying as the rice cake's texture was springy and not sticking to the teeth. Simple stir fry with pork and vegetables makes this an enjoyable meal.
The vegetarian goose mushroom was ordered from miscommunication..
It was an ok dish, no complains here. It's like a vegetarian goose flatten springroll with loads of mushrooms for filling..

What I wanted was actually deep fried soft bones fish..
To be eaten piping hot, this was really scrumptious. The meat was ultra fatty- felt like I was eating fish fat- and the bones- it melts with the fish meat. So so good. A dish to be shared though, else you may find it too rich by end of the meal..

Pitstop 3: Din Tai Fung, Xintiandi
Although Din Tai Fung has a number of branches in Shanghai, we were back to Xintiandi area for shopping and decided to try it..
Din Tai Fung's XLB was smaller in size..The skin was quite nice, rather thin too. The soup however, had a strong soy sauce base (and colour), making it slightly salty. The pork filling was ok, rather juicy, but not as satisfying as Crystal Jade's..
Some steamed vegetables dumplings..Rather dry filling and very normal.
The fried rice with shrimps and pork slices was quite good..
Had the required wok hei but a tad oily..
The Verdict?
My fave was definitely Crystal Jade- won hands down. The XLB was so good- even better tasting than the one I tried in Spore and Msia. And the extensive menu got them extra points too :)
Nanxiang Mantou Dian is located at 85 Yu Yuan Road, Old Town God's Temple, Shanghai, China.
Crystal Jade is located at 1F, House 6-7, Lane 123, Xingye Lu, Xintiandi Plaza, Shanghai, 200020, China.
Din Tai Fung is located at Shop 11A, Building 6, Xintiandi South Block, Shanghai, China.

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Blogger J said...

Oh my goodness. And all this time I thought that Crystal Jade and Din Tai Fung were from Singapore!

03 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

J: you are right on one of the chains- Crystal Jade is from Singapore. But Din Tai Fung is from Taiwan :)

04 February, 2010  
Blogger Selba said...

Nyummmm.. drooling all over the pictures! hehehe...

Crystal Jade used to be my favorite place to dine but since they changed the name to Imperial Treasure, it's still OK to go there but not as in the old days :)

04 February, 2010  
Blogger qwazymonkey said...

What an irony. I was thinking I could have some real XLB in Shanghai. Guess I'll just have to try Crystal Jade there and compare it to the ones we get here.

Thanks for the research :)

04 February, 2010  
Blogger kampungboycitygal said...

wow a spore chain did better? interesting!

04 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

selba: is this imperial treasure same as crystal jade in indonesia?

qwazymonkey: you must try crystal jade in shanghai..imho, that's the best! nonetheless, if u have the time, try nanxiang mantou dian- highest floor and see if it's even better?

kampungboycitygal: yup, i was equally surprise too...

04 February, 2010  
Blogger Selba said...

Yes, they are the same management :)

04 February, 2010  
Blogger mimid3vils said...

quality of food depends on how high the floor u seated? quite ridiculous huh~~

05 February, 2010  
Blogger CUMI & CIKI said...

wow, ur right - the skin on the 1st one looked really thick man.. i would not have liked it! so DTF still the best hor;)

07 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

mimid3vils: we thought so too...

cumi&ciki: yes, very thick and doughie. no, crystal jade is the best :)

08 February, 2010  

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