I remember the XLB (Xiao Long Bao) and the dumpling hype of 2010 (approximately). Much like burger fanatics of today, everyone sought after the ‘best’ XLB they can wrap their mitts around. Over the years, I have found that the ‘best’ of anything is completely subjective and what is divine perfection to me can be 1/5 to the next person and so on. That being said, I have no qualms of rating Shanghai Street the highest in Melbourne for XLB’s and fried pork buns. I’ll explain why.
Shanghai Street Dumpling does a lot of things well. Consistency, value, freshness, soupiness and you can see from the line above that a lot of people agree! Taro never had XLB’s (sinners can be forgiven), so I had to show her the best. Shanghai Street has two locations both on Little Bourke Street and we were at the smaller locale, number 342. If you have a larger group, I would suggest munching at the larger, sister restaurant, number 146. On to the main event!
For those who don’t know, Xiao Long Baos are steamed pork dumplings that have soup combined into the pork filling. How do they do this? The soup is chilled to a gelatinous consistency and missed into the filling and melts upon cooking. Food sorcery at it’s best. There a few ways to eating XLB’s, some like to take a small nibble and suck out the soup slowly. I have adopted the Eddie Huang’s sauna technique. You will require a bowl with a decent pool of vinegar. Next step, you place the XLB in so it can chill out in the vinegar sauna (whilst cooling down in temperature). After a few moments, you plop the whole in your mouth and be prepared for the explosions of pork richness on your tastebuds. Pro-tip: you may fail spectacularly if your mouth is small. You may also fail if your XLB handing abilities isn’t at least level 10. Otherwise, it’s a really fun experience.
The fried pork mini bun is a different beast altogether. These are too big to approach with the sauna technique so you will have to nibble away slowly. Be warned, these are scalding the roof of your mouth hot. The soup in these buns are more flavorful, whereas the XLB’s taste naturally porky, the soup is much dense and a lot more salty.
If you haven’t tried an XLB or these fried pork mini buns, you should clear your calendar and visit Shanghai Street Dumpling. If you haven’t been to Shanghai Street Dumpling before, you should also clear your calendar and pop by for a visit. You can’t go wrong with these two dumplings. If you’re after something different, try the pork and prawn dumpling with chilli oil and peanut sauce!
4.5 moustaches out of 5!