Xiao long bao

A type of steamed bun stuffed with meat and cooked in a bamboo steaming basket.

TravelCurious Tip

Purists will say that Fu Chun is where you will find the most authentic xiao long bao. Our advice? Eat around and make your own mind up!

Dumplings come in many shapes and sizes, but Xiao long bao are probably the most famous. They earn their name from their traditional preparation in xiao long, which are small bamboo steaming baskets, and are generally thought to have been invented in the late 19th century during the Qing Dynasty, in the town of Nan Xiang, now part of Shanghai.

A dumpling can describe anything from gnocchi to matzo balls and pirogi, but really its a blanket term that the West has applied to a wide variety of dough-based snacks from Asia without taking into account the cooking method, ingredients or wrapping style. In fact, when you think you are eating xiao long bao outside of Shanghai you are quite often eating something slightly different like Nanjing tang bao. But no matter: order xiao long bao in Shanghai and you won’t be disappointed.

With their thin dough skin, xiao long bao are delicate creations. The very best are quite exquisite to look at too, like little yellow skinned figs through the dough of which you can see the hot pork filling and the soup released by the steaming. The very best xiao long bao are meant to have exactly 14 pleats at the top.

There are some iconic restaurants for xiao long bao in Shanghai, their spiritual home. Nan Xiang Xialong Mantou is more than 100 years old and can be found near the City God Temple, where you can try some extraordinary crab-filled dumplings. Avoid the gimmicky giant xiao long bao, though.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Shanghai
Sheng jian bao
Similar to the Xiao long bao, these dumplings are pan fried and dangerously delicious.
Xie ke huang
A pastry shaped like a crab shell. It is a speciality in the region and comes with a variety of fillings.
Chang shou mian
Handmade wheat noodles that have become a staple chinese food.
Stir fried bull frog
Ramp up the adventure with this popular local dish cooked in green peppers.
Deep fried Wonton
Delicious pork dumplings deep-fried and served with vinegar.
Xinjiang Stone Oven Naan
From the Xinjiang province, this traditional bread is made in a stone oven.

Related Tours

Private Walking Food Tour of Shanghai
Discover an array of fantastic tastes and flavours in Shanghai’s buzzing food scene on this delicious walking tour (with occasional use of public transport) around the city’s mouth-watering culinary map. On your private tour you will:

  • Enjoy the personalised and expert attention of your private guide.
  • Walk around the bustling food markets and kitchens of Shanghai.
  • Taste a huge selection of traditional, local dishes (be sure to arrive hungry!).
  • Sample a selection of dumplings - Xiao long bao and Sheng Jian Bao.
  • Try stir-fried bullfrog: Shanghai's four-legged answer to the buffalo wing. 
  • Taste the regional speciality: Xie Ke Huang (yellow crab).
  • Try delicious handmade Shanghai wheat noodles
  • Savour a selection of desserts for the grand finale - washed down with Huangjiu (local yellow wine)
  • Experience the local atmosphere of Shanghai and learn about its rich history of food and cultural identity from your expert local guide.
Food is powerful! Tasting the food of a city provides a fascinating insight into its ethnic diversity, history, character and gastronomic trends. In Shanghai, food is at the heart of everything and has been an integral part of its identity for 3,000 years. Many of the city’s most beloved traditional dishes trace the city’s storied history - all of which you'll learn from your expert private guide. 

On your private tour, you’ll get to try all of Shanghai’s most iconic dishes like braised eggplant, soft grilled oysters, juicy scallops, delicate mandarin fish, famous xiao long bao soup dumplings, hairy crab Nian Gao, and Di Shui Dong ribs that fall off the bone. Learn the secret ingredients behind the most popular recipes and hear the fascinating backstories to exciting taste combinations. You will visit buzzing kitchens, bustling food markets, and taste speciality dishes such as Xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings), Sheng Jian bao (pan-fried dumplings), stir-fried bullfrog, Xie Ke Huang (crab-stuffed pastry), Chang Shou Mian (wheat noodles), deep-fried wonton and bread cooked in the Xinjiang stone accompanied by a glass of traditional yellow wine. Your gastronomic journey will come to an oh-so-sweet end with a sample range of Shanghainese desserts recommended by your expert guide. 


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