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Nanxiang Steamed Buns @ Yuyuan, Shanghai

3:16 PM , 0 Comments

Speak Xiaolongbao and I think of China. By a strange twist of fate, I did not have the luck to try any and was feeling most unjust about that. Until I popped over to Yuyuan for sightseeing.

Nanxiang Steamed Buns or XiaoLongBao had the throngs of people forming a queue even before the official opening time of 10am. There is always an option of dining in and you pay according to the different levels you are at. Not sure if the quality of xiaolongbaos vary across the levels if they come from the same kitchen, I'm assuming.

Watching the chefs knead, stuff and fold is pure magic. The speed their fingers move is enviable and they do it almost so mechanically, it can get quite hypnotic. Somehow all the early folding of xiaolongbaos and bowls of minced meat being used does not seem to be able to meet the massive demand for it.

12 yuan for 16 pieces of xiaolongbaos (15 cents each!), that sounded more than dirt cheap as compared to those found locally.

So, I joined the queue and waited a good 1.5 hours to satisfy the "In Shanghai, eat as they do" mentality. I rationalised, it is not normal xiaolongbaos but with crab meat. Thank goodness, the chilly 15 degrees made waiting more bearable. The downside of this is, the restaurant makes no attempt to alleviate the situation by allowing each customer to buy as much as he/she wants i.e. if one customer decides to buy the whole steamer's worth, he gets it. "As long as you queue", that is the standing rule. I just do not get the limitations of the kitchen with just ONE steamer.

The crowds clamouring for the prized.

The chef shakes it and dumps all of the xiaolongbaos into a container for takeaway. Once again, done with such routine.

I was almost tearing my hair out each time the queue stopped moving, a sign that the supply had run out and it meant more waiting. Seeing people leave the queue with stacks of steaming hot xiaolongbaos and gobbling them down was plain misery.

Finally I was near the cashier, pass over the cash and get handed the precious slip of paper stating your order. They even warn you, without this slip, no xiaolongbao. The arrogance. You bet I was clutching it as hard as I could.

With glee and wide stretched arms, I carried my precious xiaolongbaos carefully.

This seemed more precious than it should, after the long wait!

Hmm, missing soup..the skin was a tad too thick and doughy. The presumably crab meat was almost non-existent but I liked the bounciness of the meat.

After all the queueing, it could have upped my expectations of this humble dimsum but at least I had a go at it!

A word of advice, avoid Yuyuan on weekends.

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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