Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eating Soup Dumplings at Fuchun Xiaolong (富春小笼)

Weather has been very wet, windy and overall just dreary in Shanghai, so I haven't been venturing very far in my culinary exploits.  Rather than brave the typhoon-like pelting rain and wind yesterday, I just slipped into the Opera food court at the basement of the Super Brand mall next to the IFC residence.  

Luckily, there was an outpost of the Fuchuan Xiaolong restaurant here, which I had wanted to try at their hole-in-the-wall spot in JingAn.   I figured, food court that it may be, it's still a good chance for me to try these legendary "traditional" soup dumplings. For RMB10, I got half a dozen of succulent, juicy pork soup dumplings.  It doesn't look like very much food, but the richness of each soup dumpling makes you fill up very quickly.
These little bundles of joy are imperfect (especially compared to DinTaiFung's carefully measured and pert soup dumplings) but I like the saggy, slightly sloppy look.  It only promises good things to come.
Fuchun makes a more traditional soup dumpling, with a thicker, chewier skin and a richer, more succulent meat center.  There is also more broth inside the dumpling.  Impatient, I scalded my tongue on my first dumpling because I tried to shove the whole thing in my mouth all at once.

Having tried both kinds of soup dumpling, I think this type is more to my liking.  The wrapper makes all the difference.  As you can see, we're not even talking about that much thicker of a dumpling skin: 
 In the background is the ubiquitous and, in my opinion, absolutely necessary, vinegar.  I like to dunk my soup dumpling in vinegar, until it is swimming in a mouth puckering, acidic broth.  

Different soup dumpling joints serve different kinds of vinegar.  At Fuchun, ginger was notably missing.

After this greasy spoon lunch, I decided to get a traditional dessert of sweet potato and taro mochi, ice and grass jelly.  The grass jelly was exceptionally smooth and instantly cooled me down, but given the slightly medicinal, herbal after taste, I probably won't opt for such a dessert again. 
I know it's not a looker...

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