I had the pleasure of reviewing Jia Jia Tang Bao for City Weekend magazine. It’s somewhere that I’ve been wanting to check out for awhile now, but kept getting side tracked. So I was very glad to do a review on the place and finally made my way there.
Jia Jia Tang Bao surprised me. I basically consider the best xiao long bao (XLB) to be at Din Dai Fung, a Taiwanese chain that’s popular world wide (they have branches in Australia, Singapore and Shanghai.. which we often frequent). Specifically, I like my XLB to have a very thin skin and piping hot fatty broth inside. And I’ve found that almost all the Shanghai varieties here pale in comparison. The skin is often too thick, poorly made, and the quality just isn’t up to scratch. However, at Jia Jia Tang Bao, they definitely boast the thin skin that I adore, as well as very tasty dumplings.
Their drawing card is the number of varieties available, though my favourite was the simple Pork one. The only downside is that they specialise in XLB and so there’s nothing else on the menu (apart from 2 types of soup). It means that you need to eat around 2 baskets each of XLB, which doesn’t exactly fill you, but makes you feel really XLB’d out from the sheer amount of fatty broth and meat. Hard to describe, but basically, we were craving some other dish – any other dish – to go with our XLB. If only they also served a delicious fried rice, or some other side dish!
Anyway, here’s the review I wrote… copied straight off the City Weekend website :)
There’s something to be said about a restaurant that serves nothing but xiaolongbao (小龙包). Jia Jia Tang Bao is a small eatery boasts 10 varieties of the dumplings, and they all arrive piping hot at your table mere minutes after ordering. The pork dumplings (¥6) are their staple offering and they don’t disappoint. The minced pork filling is swathed in rich broth and encased in a thin dumpling skin that sags gently at the bottom when picked up. For something more impressive, try the pork and crab dumplings (¥15) that burst with strong crab flavor. The prawn dumplings (¥10) are more subtly flavored, but the fresh prawns and broth are both delightful. Dipped in vinegar, these dumplings make a perfect snack, though you’ll need at least two orders (of eight dumplings each) per person to make a meal of it. ■ Beverly Burgess