Sheng jian bao in the Bay Area

for one of the diners at my table, the soup squirted out of the bao and burned her forearm. not quite as fluffy as the ones i remember from Shanghai but i would definitely order them again.

the shop that I’ve visited most is the one by people’s park, just north on huanghe lu - also the ‘flagship’ - this location works out well if you have the stomach space for a SJB/XLB 1-2 combo by hitting up jia jia tang bao across the street, and of course, fight through the crowds:

Oddly enough, I never had xiao yang’s until 2010. Instead, the few years I spent growing up in Shanghai, I only had them when visiting my grandparents on the weekends when they would just go out with a pot and bring it back filled with SJB and other Shanghainese breakfast goodies.

Finding SJB shops that are open all day are sorta tough imho since demand is often just during breakfast, especially when navigating inside neighborhoods - making SJB crawls hard, I think. Though my grasp of Shanghainese and Mandarin are probably just too poor to make it happen (including being able to read dianping…)

You are right, sheng jian bao is best at breakfast, accompanied by a bowl of curried beef and bean thread soup. THe picture below was taken at the original (now gone) branch of Xiao Xian Shengjian on Dongjiadu Lu. This branch may have moved to Yunnan Nan Lu, and there is another branch I’ve been to on Yuyuan Lu in Changning.

Chef Zhao Kitchen in PA on Bayshore ( Not to be confused with Chef Zhao in MV ) has SJB on-menu. Looking forward to reports.

with a crunchy bottom, fluffy bun, moist filling and sesame seed top, this resembles a sjb although on the menu it’s actually called shrimp toast (mister jiu’s, sf)

new place in Fremont that specializes in SJB. Li Yi Ji Shanghai Bistro. Chinese name- ‘Li Yi Ji Sheng Jian Restaurant’

1 Like

The pics look good, and the fact that they have curry beef soup (presumably made with bean thread) on the menu is encouraging- it’s a traditional accompaniment.

Unfortunately, it’s far from transit accessible.

Dumplings very good. Nice dark crispy bottoms with no burnt flavor. Good amount of Juice in most. Not super salty but well seasoned.
Curry Beef Soup was slightly spicy, lots of sliced tender shank, no Bean Thread .
Folks were super nice. They warned us about the hot soup in side and told us how to eat them.
They will be adding other Items after they settle in. They plan to stick to Shanghai Style Noodles and Dim Sum Items.
We thought is was great and will go again when we can.

From a construction standpoint, the SJB at Shanghai bistro are fantastic. The large meatballs are wrapped tightly, and there was a full spoonful of liquid within several buns. The bottoms were thicker than the tops, but without a disruptive tuft and they stayed juicy as I work my way through the plate. The flavor is ok, not exactly smoky, but reminded me a bit of hotdogs.

So, no need to go there just for that?

According to a teaser, China Live will have SJB.

We’ll find out soon enough.

Christopher St. Cavish followed up his epic Shanghai XLB endeavors with a history and classification scheme for SJB. He characterizes them is having two axes – – a crisp axis and a puffy axis. In addition to discussing the varying levels of leavening, including none at the popular Yang’s, he mentions A place in Taiwan that uses natural yeast for leavening and gives a tang.

It’s an illuminating article— very few local places have the characteristic deflation he talks about in the unleavened ones. The most common local time seem to be leavened with little free-floating soup. The puffiest I’ve encountered is at the Monterey location of shanghai dumpling King, which is not an SJB but a bleached white fluffy bao that they happen to pan fry.

It’s odd that St. Cavish overlooked a key variable, whether the baozi are fried pleated side up or pleated side down, and if there is any correlation between this variable and the degree of leavening. According Shanghai’s most renowned foodie Shen Hong Fei, frying with the pleats up is “Shanghai style” while frying gthem upside down is “Suzhou style.” Be that as it may, the Suzhou style seems to predominate in Shanghai these days.

Interesting. St. Cavish traces the unleavened, presumably pleat down, soup filled style to 1930s Shanghai. I’d incorrectly assumed the soup filled ones were a current trend. Other than Shen Hong Fei quote, have you come across people talking about Suzhou style SJB, and whether that’s just popular there or originated there?

Steamed XLB leak from their top seam, so searing the seam in oil seams like a clever way of getting a thinner style bun without potential leakage. Bigger, fluffyier buns have enough stability and absorption that their direction isn’t as important (achem, I speculate despite my own failed attempt to make fluffy, bottom seared SJB :slight_smile:

There may not be any correlation between the degree of leavening and whether they are fried “right side up” or “upside down.” They nearly all seem to be fried “Suzhou style” today.

Shen’s comment about the frying style of SJB comes at 21:00 in the midst of the Eileen Chang memorial banquet in the vide below, but the whole documentary is interesting.

Just tried the SJB (#5 on the menu) at Dumpling kitchen. There was no soup whatsoever in any of the ones we got. Should we have sent them back? The wrapper had an odd sweetness. The filling was tasty. But they were not SJB because there wasn’t even the hint of soup.

Consensus on the curent best SJB in SF?

That’s unfortunate. I haven’t been back to Dumpling Kitchen for awhile but I do remember there being at least some soup in the SJB the last time I had it there. Would also like to know where to get some good SJB in SF.

SJB is normally not my thing, so I don’t have many points of reference. Is the meatball and soup supposed to be very salty? I found Shanghai Bistro’s version very much so, which kinda took attention away from other qualities its supposed to have.

Those are pretty salty, and they don’t add as much Shaoxing wine or other seasonings to my taste. I remember the liquid inside their XLB being salty and oddly clear, with floating white things (protein, fat, scum?).

What appeals to me about SJB is the contrast of crunch to savory slightly wet dough, kind of like a chewier version of the bread on top of French onion soup.

1 Like
Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo