For a real authentic, mouth burning, soup gushing Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai soup dumpling) experience there is only one place in Melbourne. Shanghai Street Dumpling. My go to order: Pork XLB’s, spicy peanut wontons and a plate of pan fried buns. It’s a quintessential triple threat on the senses. There’s delicious soup from the XLB’s, a sweet and savoury kick from the peanut sauce on the wontons and a mix of steam and fried with an even more denser pork broth.
However, rumors have spread through the vineyards recently and two words have repeatedly come up in conversation. Juicy Bao. Some individuals have even claimed that Juicy Bao is better than Shanghai’s. These statements got me upset and quite emotional to be frank.
Plans were made and dates were locked in.
It was on, Diddy Kong. (Don’t sue me Nintendo, I’m just a blogger).
With a line out the door and not an empty table in sight, my appetite grew along with my hangryness levels. We made our visit on a Friday and as expected where there are XLB’s there shall be lines. So we ordered the holy trinity and also the eggplant which was recommended by a friend.
- My friend did me well, the eggplant was delicious. Soft, tender slivers of eggplant paired well with the minced pork which were intensified by the Szechaun pepper sauce. You get that signature numbing effect but a little less intense compared to the other Szechaun eateries out there. Definitely pair with rice if you can, it can be a bit salty by itself. Recommended.
- The wontons were great too! There’s a distinct lack of peanut sauce but there were crushed peanuts to bring on the nutty crunch. You get 15 plump, bursty morsels for $9.80 – a bargain. It’s a nice mix of savoury and sweet and rounded off with a spicy kick (not too intense). Recommended.
- You get a great mix of both worlds with the pan fried Juicy Baos. The bottom is pan fried to a golden crisp owing to the Maillard effect and then steamed all the way through to the top. There’s just as much broth as Shanghai’s but comes second place in terms of pork intensity and size. Still delicious juicy buns, though. Recommended.
- I’m quite torn, in all honesty. The XLB‘s here are good. Very good, in fact. The only thing that Juicy Bao loses to Shanghai is that their skin is a bit thicker. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I love structural integrity and hate soup wastage (due to inept chopstick skills or thin skin, mostly the former). Both XLB’s have a nice rich pork soup that meant I can easily down a whole tray with ease. Definitely recommended.
I can’t lie and say I wasn’t impressed by what Juicy Bao brought to the table (and more). I think Shanghai still reigns supreme but only slightly. Like I mentioned before, thick skin can be a bad or a good thing (depends on your preference). The pan fried baos are also bigger at Shanghai’s with a more punchier broth. I think the wonton’s are even with the difference being the levels of sweetness.
Both have long lines and third degree burns to the inside of your mouths if you’re not careful. I would definitely come back.
4.5 moustaches out of 5!