How to eat a Shanghai Dumpling

The shengjian bao or pan-fried pork dumpling are a Shanghainese street food classic.

Firstly memorize this symbol for Yang’s dumplings. They are a chain and have branches all over the city but that shouldn’t put you off – their branches are crammed with locals, whatever the hour, as they are considered the benchmark for shengjian in Shanghai.


Yang’s only makes pork dumplings which makes one of your decisions quite easy.
Join the line to the counter and make your choice of soup and/or dumplings and pay. It’s 6rmb for 4 dumplings which equates to approx AU$1.05 or NZ$1.20.
Line up again (see how popular Yang’s is?) on the kitchen side where there is an open window and exchange your receipt for your order. Grab napkins, chopsticks and a wide spoon, and find a seat anywhere there is space. Don’t worry if you are sharing the table with others, its expected in this fast turnaround place.

these dumplings are super-hot. They have soup and a meatball inside them so do not just take a large bite out of one or you will incinerate your mouth

1. Place dumpling on spoon using chopsticks.
2. Bite hole in top and slurp out the soup. The noisier the better.
3. When there doesn’t seem to be any more liquid inside, carefully bite into dumpling.
It is safer to keep the dumpling on the spoon as you eat, as it will collect the juice that drops, and save your shorts from any messy spills and errant dumplings. I have this on good authority.

If you are eating outside, ensure you eat leaning forward, not over your legs – standing is better, and don’t forget heaps of napkins and wet wipes for your hands.

Thanks to MJ in Shanghai who introduced me to these amazing dumplings. They are going to be hard to find to equal these outside of China I think, which might work out better for me as they are completely addictive.