Jia Jia Tang Bao

90 Huanghe Road, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai, China

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This simple soup dumpling restaurant was opened in 1986, though this is not the original location. It offers freshly made xiao long bao, the classic soup dumpling with a liquid centre. The restaurant is in a fairly nondescript street, and usually has a long queue outside according to a regular that I went with, so it is best to pick an off peak time. It is regarded locally as having perhaps the best xiao long bao in the city, hence the popularity of this otherwise distinctly unassuming place.

The dining room is quite small and cramped, and as you enter on the left you can see a group of female chefs folding buns. These are all made to order, though the popularity of the place means little rest for the chefs. The best xiao long bao should have a delicate dumpling with lots of folds, twisted closed at the top, the outer layer just thick enough to not easily puncture and let out the precious liquid pork stock inside, but no thicker than is absolutely necessary. We tried two steamer trays, one with an assortment including the classic pork version, another with pork and crab roe. These were a little larger than the reference version from Din Tai Fung, but were nonetheless good, and the crab roe version did actually taste of crab, which is not always the case based on versions I tried elsewhere in this trip. The dumpling was reasonably delicate, and there was a decent ratio of liquified stock to eat in each, though again rather less so than at Din Tai Fung. The bill came to CNY 32 (£3.65) for twelve dumplings, so an absurdly cheap 30p each. This is unarguably good value for money, so worth queuing for.

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