Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
Some dishes are synonymous with certain regions and ethnic groups like the Lanzhou-pulled noodles and the Hui, lamb kebabs and Uighurs, and Beijing duck and well, Beijing. But there’s one such food that doesn’t receive nearly the attention and fame it undoubtedly deserves: Funanese-steamed dumplings. While located throughout the city and indeed, much of China, some of the best versions of these light, tender, jiaozi is Fujian Shaxian Xiao Chi, located on the legendary Jinyuan Xiang, just down the road from Yang Yang’s.
What makes these dumplings so good? The secret lies in the combination of a scrumptious pork and chive filling with a skin so light, smooth and perfectly steamed that one has to wonder why the good-natured young family that runs the shop is so blasé in preparing their dumplings before everyone at one of the small rectangular tables (lack of room is the likely answer). There are three ways to have them prepared: the classic is straight off the steamer, “zhen jiao,” (4RMB/serving), and is also the healthiest way. But why not make it a trifecta? The crunchy, greasy fried versions, “xianzhai,” (6RMB/serving), and broth-drenched, “da gu tang shui jiao,” (6RMB/bowl) add lip-smacking twists to an already masterful original product. Mix together some vinegar and chili sauce and let the magical combination of flavors set your taste buds alight: you’ll soon become a regular!
Beyond dumplings, the noodle shop also does noodles (3-10RMB/bowl), specialty clay pot soups (5-9RMB) and wontons (4-6RMB). Their specialty “bai mian” are light rice noodles served dry with a subtle peanut sauce. Unfortunately, it’s not very vegetarian-friendly, though there is a green-vegetable noodle soup available. Also, the cramped, narrow space makes it hard to accommodate large groups: it’s ideally suited to single and paired diners wanting a quick, cheap and delicious meal. A multi-course meal will cost 10-15RMB.