When I started telling people I was taking a business trip to Shanghai, Yang’s Fry Dumplings was the first thing a lot of them mentioned. So, it seemed like a logical choice for our first night there. We were feeling pretty jet lagged and dumplings seemed like something that might revive us a bit.
But despite its popularity among westerners (as they refer to us in China), our cab driver seemed pretty unsure of where the place was. I soon learned that this is pretty typical of the cab experience in Shanghai. Maybe it’s just too big to know where everything is, but the drivers always react to hearing your destination with some combination of confusion and aggressiveness.
So he dropped us off on what felt like Mars, pointing in the direction of a busy pedestrian street. We didn’t see Yang’s, so we started wandering down the street, well aware that with each step we were a little more lost. Right as I was pondering how exactly we’d manage to communicate with a cab driver without the benefit of the hotel doormen, we spotted Yang’s.
After getting in the wrong line twice, we finally figured out their process: order, pay, show receipt to dumpling scooper, get dumplings, sit, show receipt to waitress, get soup. As you wait in line, you have a clear view of their tiny kitchen. This place had quite the assembly line going. Here I could draw some connection between the rise of Chinese manufacturing and dumplings, but I’ll resist.
Here are the beauties. In the US, you often choose between deep fried dumplings and steamed. But as you can see here, these dumplings are the best of both worlds: pan fried on the bottom, but retaining that steamed doughiness on top. They’re also filled with broth, so you really need to slurp the suckers before taking a bite. And even though I had read about this before hand, I still managed to make every dumpling explode on my face or pants with steaming hot broth every time I took a bite. Such sweet pain.
Nothing like a little hot soup to ease the pain of 20 hours of travel time. This stuff was pretty amazing. I’m not a big fan of cilantro and I devoured this soup despite the fact that it was swimming with the stuff. It was also a great example of how chinese food takes the tiniest bit of meat and gets every possible bit of flavor out of it. Apparently, you don’t always need a half a pound of meat to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. Who knew?