Shanghai Flavor Shop ShengJianBao in Sunnyvale
Tucked away in a forgettable strip mall in Sunnyvale there’s a place called Shanghai Flavor Shop. The name is strange and it also serves a special item that is rarely found in the SF bay area: Sheng Jian Bao.
ShengJianBao (生煎包; Pan Fried Pork Buns) is a popular Shanghai xiaochi item which is made from pan-frying a small dumpling in similar fashion to cooking pot stickers. The dumpling is a little bit bigger than a golf ball and smaller than a baseball.
It is not to be confused with another popular Shanghai xiaochi XiaoLongBao (XLB). While the skins for each are made differently, both dumplings feature a broth rich meat filling, usually from pork. Another obvious difference is that XLB is steamed while the SJB is pan-fried. And usually it is cooked by packing as many as them as can fit into a large frying pan and then frying them together and then splitting up the orders, as opposed to XLB’s one steamer per order.
I ordered the dumpling, which are all hand made to order so it takes a while. One other interesting item not seen often was the Shredded Pork and Noodle with Green Onion Sauce (蔥油肉絲拌麵).
The noodle came topped with the green onion sauce and a few shreds of pork and ready to be mixed. The sauce, though little, had a very fragrant smell. After mixing the noodles were glistening with the sauce and oil and smelled and tasted great. The noodle was cooked to good tenderness. I would recommend trying this dish simply for the taste of it. But at $5.95, I think it is a little over priced for just a few strands of pork. (Grade:B+)
After awhile the Sheng Jian Bao finally came, six to an order. It looked a little bit different than the ones I’ve had in Taiwan. The bao’s are usually cooked with the bottom side down so the crust forms on the bottom (similar to pot stickers). But here it is cooked upside down, so the actual top of the bao is cooked to golden crust.
I knew that the inside is filled with hot, scalding broth, so I bit an opening to let the heat escape a bit before taking a bigger bite into it. The flavor was very good. There were broth in it, similar to XLB, and the pork based filling was tasty and had good texture, not too tough. I would of liked a little bit more green in it to break up the richness, but it is still good. (Grade: A-)
I have not really looked for or seen another place in the bay area that serves Shengjian bao. But even if this is the only place that has it, it does a good enough job that probably there’s no need to go elsewhere for it.
Shanghai Flavor Shop888 Old San Francisco Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086