Sheng jian bao in the Bay Area

No pictures of shanghai san jian bao? Seems good sjb is harder to find around here than xlb.

Ask and ye shall receive.


Wow I miss those – any luck finding a semblance of those around SF?

Let’s not have this thread go too far off track (or start a separate thread if you like). The short answer is that only Shanghai Flavor Shop makes the variety with the pleats on the bottom, soup rather than stray juice inside, and browning far up the sides. Others places do parts of that, but not the trio. I’m not a fan:


According to Shanghai’s most famous foodie Shen Hongfei, frying shengjian bao with the pleated side down is “Suzhou style”, but it’s become almost universally adopted in Shanghai these days in preference to the original Shanghai style. (21:25 of this video):

I disagree. Shanghai Flavor Shop make a respectable sheng jian bao. Sometimes I drive down from SF for them. They’re similar calibre to many I’ve eaten in Shanghai.

Sadly, I haven’t been happy with anything else I’ve eaten there though.

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Anyone tried Shanghai Garden? Online menu seems to have 'em.

Yes. I can’t remember specifics from a visit in July, but I remember them not being very good (I’d been to Shanghai dumpling earlier that day to much success). Other items ranged from ok to terrible.

Here’s a pic:

My favorite place in SF is Dumpling Kitchen. I’ve enjoyed their sheng jian bao for years. On the attached menu, it is #5, Shanghai Style Pan Fried Pork Buns.
I also recommend:
#13, wontons in chili oil
#47, shanghai style stir fried rice cakes
#18 savory soy milk


I was waiting to reply because I was hoping to try out Shanghai Flavor Shop during my next visit to Sunnyvale, but it may be a few months so I will just weigh in one my current favorite. SJB are one of my favorite dumplings, so much better than XLB in my opinion.

I have never been to China nor do I have a benchmark for a “gold standard.” But I know I want a flavorful pork filling that is moist and juicy enough to wet the surrounding dough. And I want a dough wrapper that is bready, thicker than your typical dumpling wrapper, but thinner than the bread around steamed BBQ pork buns. The texture and flavor of the bread wrapper is very important, it’s gotta be good enough to eat on it’s own.

With that said, my favorite is at Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland. They make their dumplings in house. I often see them making trays of dumplings when I go in during the day. About two weeks ago, some steamed vegetable buns had just come off the steamer so I picked up a bunch, they were great and the bread wrapper was perfect.

There is a gold standard (I’d call it the “golden brown” standard) for shengjian bao, namely those from Xiao Yang in Shanghai, and no upstart Taiwanese has been able to steal their thunder. (I actually prefer a place called Xiao Xian, for bigger, shapelier dumplings and smaller crowds).

I haven’t been to many of the South Bay places, but I have yet to find wickedly good SJB anywhere in the Bay Area (or elsewhere in North America). I think the local baozi are the victim of the nutritional equivalent of political correctness. Whereas the “soup” in xiaolong bao comes primarily from an aspic and is not particularly unhealthy, in shengjian bao it is almost pure fat; these are true grease bombs. Restaurateurs may be unwiilling to unleash these on us. Another failing of most local SJB is a reluctance to brown 30-40% of the shell to a shattering crispness, as if the shops were wary of being hit with dry cleaning bills. The best SJB are as messy as they are delicious.

Below is a picture of shengjian bao from Xiao Yang’s OG Wujiang Lu shop (since “redeveloped” out of existence). Note that they are fried pleats down (the currently accepted style) and heavily browned. The second pic is from Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland (taken a few years ago, and may not represent what they are serving now). They are prettier, but relatively innocuous compared to their street-smart cousins from Shanghai.

The picture of the ones at Shanghai Restaurant are still accurate, the browning is only on the bottom, although they have switched to using black sesame seeds. What is the purpose of browning pleat side vs bottom side? I would think you get more browned surface area by browning on the bottom side. I wonder if they would take a request to brown both sides…

I think the Wujiang Lu shop relocated. I was deeply bereft, that shop and the food alley, was on my internal map of shanghai and when I tried to just walk there found an empty hole and building… such is modern shanghai…

However, I think they only moved a block away. I saw the familiar yellow sign in a newly raised building. They had scored a nice, outward facing storefront, upstairs.

But I can’t find any info ( in english anyway ) about this shanghai location. Maybe I hallucinated it? Or was that a year ago, and that shop failed ( impossible ! ).

Yes, I know Yang’s has a number of locations in Shanghai but none are downtown where I do a lot of customer meetings and usually stay. Trekking out on the metro a few stops isn’t that hard, but … still…

I suspect that the crust formed from frying pleat side down prevents soup from steaming the sjb open and/or from saturating the bottom into a soggy mess. If that’s true, the soupless ones that are fried pleat side down would be done that way out of convention rather than necessity. Just speculating here…

There were two storefronts on Wujiang Lu. The flagship store is now on Huanghe Lu.

I don’t know what you consider “Downtown” but as of 2011 when I was last in SH there was a small outlet inside the Shanghai No 1 Provisions Store on the Nanjng Lu Mall.

JFC, I just checked and they show 90 locations now! In 1992 when I was first there they had only one.

I think you are right, frying with the the pleated side down keeps them sealed.

Here’s a nifty little video of the making of SJB with traditional equipment. I love that someone says “Let’s eat!” in Shanghainese near the beginning.


I stopped by Shanghai Flavor Shop in
Sunnyvale when I was in the area recently. I was quoted 10 minutes for a to-to sheng jian bao order,and a few minutes after the estimate I was served very fresh bao.
I enjoyed them more than any others in the Bay
Area by a decent margin. D

ough was raised texture, and soup was decently soupy. I enjoyed the crispiness and flavor of the pleat-side down fry of the raised bun. They were obviously fried in a pan that can accommodate a curved surface, as their browned surface was curved, but not above the 20% bottom of the bao.


My most recent order at Panda Dumpling in San Carlos had the exterior I’d been looking for, but an interior that was vastly different (though not bad). The dough had a steamed/fried on one side texture and was not burnt nor undercooked/not expanded enough (many end up too dense in the dough).
There wasn’t any soup to speak of, and the filling was like some sort of 1970’s potsticker–it contained ground pork, napa cabbage, and I’m pretty sure water chestnuts and perhaps other elements for crunch. I actually liked the taste, but if you’re seeking current trenz in sheng jian bao, this is not your place.
I had ordered for takeout and the sheng jian bao were placed in the plastic tray seconds before the handover to me.

I tried the SJB at Dumpling Kitchen in SF and they were quite good. Maybe could have used a touch more browning and a little more soup, but they were tasty.

On a side note, I don’t recommend the SJB at Bund Shanghai in SF Chinatown. The last time I had them they were very doughy to the point where the dough sponged up most of the juices from the filling.

Oh, the SJB thread is a different thread. I mentioned BG in an XLB thread.

Bamboo Garden in Mountain View. Crispy bottoms, slightly thicker skins than an XLB as required, great meat / juice / skin ratios. No online menu. Just as good as what I’ve had in San Gabriel Valley.

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr