Simple Fare

Sue Hsiao Liu 苏小柳 @ Shanghai

Shanghainese Soup Dumplings 小笼包 – those little parcels of goodness renowned the world over. One has to have it at least once when you visit the city. Forget about the ones they serve in the hotel breakfast. Go down to the mall, there’s always one near you that give you really good examples of these dumplings.

First opened in 2016, Sue Hsiao Liu came into a really crowded and competitive xiaolongbao market. After 5 years and 18 stores later, they have made a brandname for themselves for innovative and high quality dumplings.

Open kitchen

They took a page out from Din Tai Fung‘s playbook in terms of running a modern eatery but stuck to the traditions of Nanxiang (Shanghai-style dumplings) and Taikang (Wuxi-style dumplings).

Tableware

From the decor of the restaurants to the tableware used, one can be forgiven if you thought you had entered Din Tai Fung – white melamine ware and black chopsticks, open kitchen showing off the chefs (they are referred to as artisans) making the xiaolongbao.

手拆蟹粉小笼包 Crab Meat Xiaolongbao

Even the xiaolongbao looked similar – 7g of pastry to make the skin, 25 folds per dumpling, classic flavours intertwined with seasonal flavours from their “dumpling institute”.

清甜鲜虾马蹄小笼包 Shrimp and Water Chestnut Xiaolongbao

I tried a classic flavour – 手拆蟹粉小笼包 Crab Meat Xiaolongbao – and an innovative flavour – 清甜鲜虾马蹄小笼包 Shrimp and Water Chestnut Xiaolongbao. Both looked well-executed, but the shrimp dumplings were much bigger than the crab ones. They came piping hot, and none was broken. You can hold one up with chopsticks without breaking the skin and see the dumpling drooping with soup inside.

Crunchy, both the shrimp and water chestnut

However when you bit into one shrimp dumpling, there’s so much soup in them but not much filling.

There’s xiaolongbao 小笼包 and then there’s soup dumpling 灌汤包

手拆蟹粉灌汤包 Crab Meat Soup Dumpling

Sue has one more trick up her sleeves – the ginormous soup dumpling. The first time I had this was at Taikang. Some said that xiaolongbao was an evolution from this soup dumpling. Others said that soup dumpling was the xiaolongbao made bigger due to demand.

So what’s the difference between this giant soup dumpling and xiaolongbao? Is it like what they said, one is just a bigger version of the other? So which came first?

Drinking with a straw

According to my research, both were in existence in their formats since Song dynasty. The xiaolongbao was made popular by Nanxiang in Shanghai, but their version was an evolution of the Yangzhou and Wuxi versions. And the soup dumplings were already popular in Kaifeng and Nanjing. So one was not the ancestor of the other – the skins are different, the fillings are different (one use real soup, the other use pork gelatin).

So much goodness in the giant dumpling

No matter what happened, the soup dumpling was always an interesting eat. The proper way is to move the dumpling to side of the plate, bite a small hole and suck the soup, and then eat the dumpling. But for the untrained like us, we were given a straw.

Sue Hsiao Liu Homemade Dim Sum 苏小柳 (长风大悦城)
178 Daduhe Rd 大渡河路178号1层, Shanghai Shi, 200062, China
Tel : +86 (021) 56677717

Date Visited : Jul 2021

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