Saturday, December 03, 2005

Shao Loeng Baos at Joe's Shanghai

I have been trying not to become a restaurant review blog--since my Dad owns a restaurant, and my undivided loyalty belongs to him--but I love talking about food, and I love sharing my experiences. Thus, to be fair, each time I blog about a restaurant, I try to discuss the good and the bad.

One of the restaurants that I want to share about, is
Joe's Shanghai in New York. My friends on the East Coast claim that this place makes "the best shao loeng baos" outside of the city of Shanghai itself. I was deprived as a kid when it comes to shao loeng baos, but I'd like to think that I know a good shao loeng bao: one bite and hot juices come bursting forth all over your chin and freshly laundered white shirt. (For some reason, I am channeling thoughts of Gushers Fruit Snacks or that Chiclets-like gum from the Eighties with the liquid center. Chewels. Remember those?)

My friend ordered several plastic containers full of coeng ching tsai (ong tsai in Cantonese) and the tasty shao loeng baos (also known as "soup buns" in white man's tongue) for our eating pleasure.

As I saw my friend (native of the East Coast) greedily snatching up the buns like they were $100 dollar bills flying in the street, I was a little more cautious of the hot, mouth-burning explosions to come. Plus, those buns had lots of built-up expectations riding on their spiral-pleated shoulders. I grabbed a dumpling with my disposable chopsticks, and the steaming little pouch hovered precariously over my open mouth before making its final landing. Three, two, one. . .

Gasp! There was brown gravy inside shao loeng bao! Thick and heavy brown gravy! It wasn't the clear brothy juice that I was used to!

After the stinging shock of disappointment wore off and my vision was restored to normal, I reached for another soup bun in the rapidly emptying container, just to make sure that last one wasn't an anomaly. Another bite confirmed that the dumpling innards indeed contained gravy.

As our meal came to an end, it was funny to see how I experienced dissatisfaction while my friend experienced absolute euphoria.

Eating the legendary dumplings at Joe's Shanghai definitely taught me a valuable lesson. Even if I grew up on the Panda Express version of shao loeng baos, my friend's and my own diametrically opposing reactions illustrated that different life experiences with food really can yield different results.


  1. I have had Joe Shanghai's shao loeng bao Mmm Mmm Good in my opinion. However, I have also found a pretty good shao loeng bao place here in the Bay Area. One day, J and I can take you and S there...

  2. Thank you Alfred, I accept your generous offer! I think that I am the "only" person in the world who did not respond positively to Joe's Shanghai shao loeng baos.

    I am excited about the Bay Area place! I have never been disappointed in any of your recommendations. (That's why my nickname for you is "Alf, the Living Zagat's Guide to SF"!)

    Take care and stay healthy during finals!

  3. Hi PE - I think I commented on another post about Joe's XLB - they have to be the biggest Xiao Long Bao I've ever seen. But brown "soup", never heard of that.

  4. thanks for the info about 3D Chicken Little and King Kong. I will see if it's available in the Malls.

    My friends (The Jesuit Gourmets) say you have a really wonderful site.

  5. Argh! More yummy looking food pics. It makes my daily meals look so blah. You have all the fun! We are mainly vegetarian, but there are some really good vegetarian foods out there now. Thankyou for your comment and suggestions on my blog. I have taken several into consideration, and already have many care packages made up. :)
    Sincerely, Hat Girl

  6. Sorry again for the delayed reply--I am still trying to catch up with my post-Thanksgiving workload . . . But I will be putting up a new posting tonight or tomorrow!

    Nice to see you Kirk! I am interested in looking at your previous comment on Shao Loeng Baos (or XLBs). The inside soup-gravy in Shanghai Joe's XLBs is a lot thicker and "brown" than I am used to. I looked up the recipe for XLBs in my Mom's Wei-Chuan Chinese Snacks cookbook, and it says to put in "aspic" with the meat filling before wrapping and steaming the buns. Interesting.

    Hi Noel! I like your movie site and your friends' food site too. I am going to try that recipe that they posted--it sounds delicious. Keep up the good work in reviewing the movies, I'll keep visiting your site!

    No problem Hatgirl, you shouldn't be thanking me, but we should all be thanking you for your generosity and kindness for doing what you are doing.

  7. Hi PE - Here's Professor Salt's visit to Joe's:

  8. Thank you for thinking of me Kirk and looking up that post. That is very kind of you. :)

    Professor Salt's XLBs look a little more inflated than the ones I had, but I agree with you, they are huge!

  9. PE, when i went to NY for one week, i ended up eating here at Joe's Shanghai three times. Each time ordering the same items: shao loong baos, shanghai fried noodles, beef noodle soup (nu ro mian) and potstickers (guo tieh). this place hasn't disappointed me yet. god i miss those bean-bag sized XLB's.

  10. Wow Dylan, sounds like you are a fan of Joe's Shanghai! Is it just me, or do you know what I am talking about in terms of 1) thick gravy-like sauce, and 2) clear broth sauce? Do you prefer one over the other?

  11. Brown gravy?! That's something new. I love XLBs, and I think I have have even eaten at Joe's Shanghai in my pre--culinary-cognizant days when my Chinese friend drug me around NYC for eats.

    Now my staples are DTF and Mei Long Village.

    And wow, PE! Your dad owns a restaurant! A tidbit I didn't know!

  12. How weird! It's now that I realized this was an old post. But in my Google Home Page (which is subscribed to your blog), it registers as a new post! Anyway, it's all good because I hadn't read this one before!

  13. You really do have good taste Elmo Monster, Din Tai Fung and Mei Long Village are my favorites too! They both have positive and negative attributes: Din Tai Fung's shao loeng baos are too small, and Mei Long Village's shao loeng baos are a little on the greasy side, but they go down smooth!

  14. Whoa, I just found this great XLB post! :) Haha sorry, I know it's an old one. I completely agree with you on this, by the way -- I'm not a fan of Joe's dumplings either: way too big! And as you said, you've got to have that great broth. I've never been to Shanghai, but as far as I can tell, the XLB's you find in SF are much closer to the original.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I read and enjoy every comment, and will try to reply if time permits. If you have a blog, please leave a link. I love to discover new and delicious sites!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...