Shanghai’s finest Xiao Long Bao dumplings

It’s New Year   – the fourth day of the New Year of the Dog, in fact. Around New Year – and especially at midnight on New Year’s Eve – it’s compulsory to eat dumplings.

There’s all sorts of dumplings, but one of the finest is Shanghai’s traditional xiao long bao. Xiao long bao  differ from other dumplings because of the delicious liquid inside them.

Shanghai Xiao long bao. Photograph courtesy of

There’s a right way – and a wrong way – to consume the delicious broth inside the dumpling. London’s Time Out recently caused a stir by showing a video purporting to be a ‘how-to-eat” guide to these saucy treats – but the sauce exploded everywhere. They took down the video.

The video on this page  will show you how to eat xiao long bao, and also the chefs at the restaurant where they were invented making them. You should make a little whole in the pastry with your chopsticks and sip the steaming soup. (I’ve burnt my mouth numerous times as the liquid is piping hot!)


A shorter video showing the dumplings being made.

I’ve tried these delicious dumplings in many places – the taste and texture of the meat vary. I had some Xiao long Bao at a restaurant in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley yesterday. They were made by a chef from Shandong. Although the pork filling was delicious, sacrilegiously, almost, there was no liquid meat broth inside!

xiao long bao小笼包 means little basket parcels . 包  bao, means wrap, and 包子 baozi  are a common breakfast dish, bigger than dumplings or 饺子jiaozi.

Since  笼 long, sounds like  龙 long, dragon, you’d be forgiven if you thought these delights were called Little Dragon baozi – I did for a long time. You’d be in good company if you did. The famous Emperor Qian Long of the Qing dynasty visited Wuxi, a town not far from Shanghai, sometime in the 18th Century, and became quite fond of xiao long bao.  As Qian Long’s nickname was “Little Dragon”, many people started referring to the dumplings as Little Dragon Dumplings ( still pronounced Xiao Long Bao)!

Whatever you want to call them, they are one of the most delicious dumplings you are ever likely to taste!

Happy New Year of the Dog to all Spaceship China readers – and may dumplings visit your menu often!


Author: Debbie

immersed in the ancient culture of china, and its constantly changing facades.... a traveller through time and space landing in suzhou of the 21st century.... australian by birth, traveller by nature, mother of a beautiful ten-year-old

7 thoughts on “Shanghai’s finest Xiao Long Bao dumplings”

  1. Really like xiao long baos. When eating one, what I like to do is make a hole at the top and then pour out the liquid onto my spoon and drink it from the spoon. That way minimal spillage and the soup can cool down for a moment – and I also prefer to get maximum taste from drinking the biggest mouthful of soup 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good advice Mabel! I’ll try that next time. Must say, whenever I eat xiao long baos outside Shanghai, for the most part, I’m disappointed. The ones on the weekend didn’t even have soup inside! don’t call them xiao long baos!! Hard to describe how deliciously tasty they are! Happy New year of the dog, Mabel!


      1. That reminds me. The other day I went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered pan friend pork dumplings with soup, or sheng jian bao. Disappointingly dry and the skin was quite thick and overly chewy. The meat tasted great, though.

        Happy New Year to you too, Debbie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sometimes its people from other neighbourhoods who havent grown up with the tradition of cooking regional dishes – like my Xiao Long Baos were made by shandong ren – and sometimes its just plain sheer bad cooking! Even in other parts of China, even in nearby Suzhou, there was only 1 place that got the xiaolongbaos right, yummy and delicious liquid soup! But the original little hole in the wall restaurant in the Jade Gardens in Shanghai – always long long iines and super super yum!

        Liked by 1 person

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