Jia Jia Tang Bao
Perhaps the most famous purveyors of Xiaolongbao in Shanghai, Jia Jia Tang Bao is little more than a hole in the wall, but it is an institution in the city. Lines are long and closing times are arbitrary. When they sell out, they close, so try to get there early. The chefs here have mastered the traditional pork filling and even offer crab roe-stuffed Xiaolongbao.
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is the restaurant that made Xiaolongbao famous, so it’s only logical that they serve some of the best in the world. Like Jia Jia Tang Bao, Din Tai Fung offers pork and crab roe fillings and features an open kitchen in which you can watch chefs busy at work folding the wrappings into a precise 18-fold crown.
Since 1959, Fu Chun has been serving snacks at this location from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. It is one of the few places where you can eat Shanghai-style Xiaolongbao without paying through the nose. While you’re here, round out your meal with a fried pork cutlet; Shanghai’s version of a schnitzel is a direct result of the city’s colonization. Originally a Western fusion dish brought by foreigners in the 1800s, this breaded, deep-fried cutlet is typically served with Shanghainese Worcestershire sauce (translated as “spicy soy sauce”), which was originally produced for British expats in the 1930s. Both are now quintessentially Shanghainese and a necessary component of a true local dining experience.
Lin Long Fang
If you love Jia Jia Tang Bao but hate the long lines, Lin Long Fang is the place for you. The restaurant chain is backed by the same owners as Jia Jia and even has identical dumplings with some additional flavors on the menu as well. Egg and pork may sound like an odd combination to you, but the egg brings a creamy richness to the meat that it lacks otherwise.
De Xing Guan
At De Xin Guan, a well-known noodle shop that’s been filling up Shanghai bellies since the Qing dynasty, they serve a traditional Shanghai Xiaolongbao with a rich meat filling that is almost as popular as De Xin Guan's signature dishes: pork trotter noodles and mini wontons in soup. De Xing Guan’s xiaolongbao are juicy and of good value -- expect a generous size and a big flavor from the rich, fatty pork filling and a thicker, Shanghainese style xiaolongbao skin to hold it in. The regular pork xiaolongbao alongside a bowl of green onion-topped chicken and duck blood soup make for a cheap and tasty breakfast.
Paradise Dynasty’s eight-color Xiaolongbao look more like Playdoh than food, but these fun little dumplings are colored with natural ingredients like red sorghum, carrot, and spinach. This chain started out in Singapore and is edging in on Din Tai Fung’s territory with their numbers and popularity. The chefs cook with only the finest ingredients, ensuring that the Xiaolongbao taste as good as they look.