NPR logo Shanghai: Slurping at Yang's Fry-Dumpling

Shanghai: Slurping at Yang's Fry-Dumpling

After 13 years in business, Yang's Fry-Dumpling has become an institution. Long queues crowd the pavement, as customers wait to be served their sizzling-hot dumplings straight out of the pan. Louisa Lim, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Louisa Lim, NPR

After 13 years in business, Yang's Fry-Dumpling has become an institution. Long queues crowd the pavement, as customers wait to be served their sizzling-hot dumplings straight out of the pan.

Louisa Lim, NPR

Yang's shengjianbao dumplings are soupy pockets of goodness with pork filling. They're fried until they're a crunchy golden-brown, and topped with sesame seeds and scallions. Louisa Lim, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Louisa Lim, NPR

Yang's shengjianbao dumplings are soupy pockets of goodness with pork filling. They're fried until they're a crunchy golden-brown, and topped with sesame seeds and scallions.

Louisa Lim, NPR

The idiosyncratically named Yang's Fry-Dumpling is a Shanghai institution. That much is clear from the queue of impatient punters, clutching their receipts and salivating with heightened anticipation for their soupy mouthfuls of goodness.

Large circular trays of shengjianbao dumplings punctuated by sesame seeds and scallions simmer away. These dumplings, fried to a crunchy golden-brown, require an eating style that throws Western table manners to the winds: biting a small hole in the top and slurping out the soup before tackling the pork filling. Novices who chomp straight in are distinguished by soup-explosion stains down their chests.

Inside, the atmosphere is democratic, with customers crowding the narrow stairways of the old lane-house and jostling elbows at rickety tables.

For the indecisive diner, the length of the menu at Yang's Fry-Dumpling — a total of three dishes — is a great boon. Besides dumplings (four for 3 yuan, or about 40 cents), it offers clay-pot soup (5 yuan, or about 65 cents) and beef curry soup with translucent noodles (5 yuan). The curry soup, a culinary reminder of Shanghai's colonial history, was inherited from the Sikh watchmen and security guards who policed the city's international settlement in the 19th century.

With just over $100, the eponymous Yang Lipeng started the restaurant 13 years ago. She learned to make dumplings from her grandfather, the dumpling chef for decades in Shanghai's grand old lady of restaurants, Meilongzhen.

Despite her seven shops and 40-odd employees, Mrs. Yang gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to make the dumpling mix. The exact ingredients are her commercial secret, privy only to her husband and herself.

Yang's Fry-Dumpling — 54 Wujiang Lu and 60 Wujiang Lu. Open 6 a.m. to 12 midnight.

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