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Wednesday 30 March 2011

Shanghai Dumplings

In China, you will be able to find very hilarious English signboards directly translated from the Chinese words. There is no exception for a metropolitan like Shanghai. I wonder why the authorities allow such crudely translated signboards but that adds to the fun of travelling in China. One can write a book by just collecting these hilarious translations.

What sense does it make by "Huang He Road Cate Lie Fallow Street"? "Cate" is obligingly acceptable but "Lie" and "Fallow" make absolutely no sense. When "Lie" and "Fallow" are put together, they mean "Leisure", so it should be "Huang He Road Culinary & Leisure Street".

Despite the hilarious signboard, there is no doubt that Huang He Road is lined with shops of culinary specialties. One thing that every tourist would wanna try out is the Shanghai dumplings.

Most tourists know only Nanxiang Dumpling Restaurant (南翔馒头店), but the locals may tell you that it is an over-rated restaurant. The best dumplings are found on the streets. My friend who had been in Shanghai for a year during my time of visit knows it best, so he brought me to this Jia Jia Dumpling (佳家汤包) along Huang He Road.

Luckily they didn't try hard on the English translation. If not, it may become "Jia Jia Soup Wrap" or "Jia Jia Soup Bag"!

We were there just before the peak lunch hour, so the queue was not too bad. We waited for slightly less than half an hour before we were seated.

During lunch hour, the queuing time should be around 45 minutes to one hour as what happened to my second visit. So, better get there earlier to beat the crowd.

Everybody is here for these freshly made dumplings - as stipulated in the name card of the shop: "order on the spot, wrap on the spot, steam on the spot, eat on the spot".

After making our order and paid at the cashier, we sat down and waited like other patrons. Minutes later, our crab roe and pork dumplings (蟹黄鲜肉汤包) were served (12 for RMB19.50 as in December 2009).

Not long after that, the custard and pork dumplings (蛋黄鲜肉汤包) were also served (12 for RMB12.00 as in December 2009).

My friend and the Shanghai locals were right. The best Shanghai dumplings are found on the street and not in the over-rated restaurants. These dumplings were the best I have ever tasted.

The waiter (probably the owner) got curious of my act of snapping photos around the shop and the food and came to ask me about the purpose of the photos. My friend told him that I am a "reporter" and he quickly posed for me. I told him that I was going to make him appear on the Internet and I have kept this promise.

Minutes later, he came back and gave us another serving of the pickled ginger free-of-charge which was supposed to be RMB2.00. A "reporter" will always receive special care when it comes to food blogging.

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