Chronicles of MPT: The One Next to Mustafa’s

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DC, a man after my own stomach, had been looking up MPT places as he was concerned about the recent lack of Chronicles of MPT posts. He found this place at Verdun Road that supposedly used buah keluak as one of the magic ingredients in its chilli sauce. Of course we had to find the next opportunity to go!

The stall is nestled in a coffee shop just by Mustafa’s, that emporium of everything you need in this world (except MPT). We ordered a bowl each, DC being a purist for my blog’s sake ordered meepok, while I on advice from some reports went for the meekia.

Each bowl came with a generous topping of fish dumplings, pork mince, sliced pork, fishball and a piece of crisp dried sole. I liked the gluey fish dumplings and didn’t mind the fishball. DC didn’t like the fishball though, he felt that it tasted too mass-produced. He was also pretty unlucky because his pork was undercooked and noodles soggy. For the former, he simply pushed the offending pink pieces away, but for the latter he had no choice but to slurp up theĀ  soft pap. Why? The chilli was heavenly. I think it’s by far the best MPT chilli I’ve had. It was smoky with deep earthy buah keluak flavour and had plenty of kick. Complemented by the crisp lard pieces and a splash of black vinegar, this combination is to die for. Do yourself a favour and order the meekia. Mine was perfect. The best in a long while.

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Ah Hor Teochew Kway Teow Mee
12 Verdun Road

Shanghai Street Eats: More Dumplings

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Mum is very particular about cleanliness and is not surprisingly cool towards street food. Rare is the day she’ll pull up a stool and slurp noodles by the roadside in a foreign country. Of course, with the NEA hygiene assessment system she’s more than happy to enjoy her local makan.

This was one of the rare times she agreed to eat at a hole-in-the-wall establishment in Shanghai. We were at the Yuyuan/Chenghuang Miao area doing some shopping and were delayed at the tailor. There was no way I was going to have anything at Nanxiang, the famously overhyped xiao long bao place. I’ve never liked it and find that stuff at Din Tai Fung, while still not the best, is far superior.

As we walked down a little alley to escape the tourist hordes, I spied a few little places and persuaded my mum to have lunch here. It had to be good since it was full to the gills when we passed by at 11.30 (the local lunch time). We stood awkwardly by the racks of dumplings trying to figure out how to order. Good thing they soon figured out that we weren’t exactly local from our dress and weird accent.

Here, they sell the shui jiao (boiled dumplings) by the liang, about 50 g. Noticing our still-uncertain expressions, the boss-man suggested that we take three liang and he’ll give us an assortment of the different flavours. I think there must’ve been something like eight flavours at least on display that day. There were beef, pork, lamb, chives and other vegetables with various combinations of preserved vegetables and aromatics.

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We identified at least three different flavours of the freshly boiled shui jiao and slurped them down alternately with the vinegar and chilli paste provided at the table. These dumplings were the sturdier northern version, more like Polish pierogi than the more delicate Cantonese ones.

The boss-man came over to check how we liked the food and told us that he came from Dongbei, that’s why his shui jiao were so good and so different from the usual Shanghainese pap. Well-said, boss-man!

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Surprisingly, Mum said she enjoyed this meal and said that next time we could get some raw ones to take home for a hot pot so Dad could try some too.

I’ll find out the address and post it next time I visit Shanghai.

Shanghai Street Eats: Yang’s Fry-Dumplings

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A friend brought me to what turned out a deeply unsatisfying meal at Three on the Bund. I had barely seared scallops on a shockingly insipid saffron risotto garnished with prosciutto chips at the cafe on the top floor of the building. The view was great though majorly overpriced.

On our way back to his apartment, I insisted that he take me to eat good street food. He sure acted fast as no sooner than I spoke, we were at an old favourite, Yang’s Fry-Dumplings (xiao yang sheng jian guan). First we joined the short mid-afternoon queue to make our order and pay up, then clutching greasy receipt in grubby hand, we crowded round the fryer to await our serving of the good stuff.

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Despite the uniforms and youthful staff, it’s still quite a traditional shop in that you can see the dumplings made and fried in front of you. The dumplings consist of minced meat wrapped in dough and fried gently on only one side. The top comes out steamed and the bottom crisp and brown.

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Brandishing our two packets of dumplings, we rushed back to my friend’s apartment nearby. Even though they’d sat for a while, these little packages of heaven were still very excellent. The sturdy flour wrapper was still crisp on the bottom and came apart in the mouth in a burst of meaty juices. It was so good I didn’t bother hunting down vinegar for it. I scarfed down a whole pack of six (or was it eight?) on a full stomach. Good thing too, because that night I ended up at another overpriced and overhyped too-cool-for-the-average-proletariat place.

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I’d had this before a few years ago and I’d forgotten how good it was, especially contrasted against the many pretenders and chi-but-awful places in Shanghai’s food scene. It’s one of the few places that, despite its overexposure, still remains really excellent.

Yang’s Fry-Dumplings
54/60 Wujiang Lu
Puxi, Shanghai
Nearest underground station: Nanjing West Road