Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, A Shanghainese Culinary Tradition For Over A Century!

For a restaurant with over a 100 years in culinary expertise and tradition in Shanghai, Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant is one establishment rich with history. Ever popular in China for their Xiao Long Baos, the restaurant has its overseas expansion in Singapore now with their 3rd dine-in outlet recently opened in Plaza Singapura and an Express outlet at Serangoon’s Nex.



Left : Duck’s tongue with wine sauce. Right : Duck’s tongue with braised sauce.

Cuisine which I would normally would hesitate to even think about trying like the Braised Duck’s Tongue was a real eye opener for me. And a must order for the first time at the restaurant would be the King Sized Nanxiang Crab Roe Steamed Soup Bun which is probably the only “Da Long Bao” in Singapore with its savoury broth requiring a straw to enjoy.

   

Top Left : Vermicelli with Crab Roe, Top Right : “Hua Niang” Steamed Cod Fish, Bottom Left : Braised Pork Belly Ribs, Bottom Right : Steamed Egg with Clams

The specialties of the establishment is varied with focus strongly being on seafood, especially crabs. For me, it was pure indulgence to have engaged in a beautiful banter one on one with the Vermicelli with Crab Roe and coming to terms with homely dishes like the Steamed Egg with Clams is very easy, and heartwarming.



Starting the meal off with Jellyfish with Spicy Vinegar ($6.80) proved to be very appetizing. Tangy sweet and a little spicy sauce draped lovingly over pieces of crunchy jellyfish. Simple yet so satisfying. The portion is also quite large for its value. Though it might be a wise choice to start off each piece of jellyfish by smothering it again with the vinaigrette which has flowed to the bottom of the bowl.

Alas as I mentioned previously, this was my very first time taking a bite and a crunch out of the duck’s tongue. But believe me, if you love chicken’s feet in the dim sum restaurants, these are probably very familiar. Crunchy and rich in cartilage, the dish is available in two styles of wine sauce or braised sauce. But if you would love the best from both worlds, just go for the “Yuan Yang” Duck Tongue ($8.00). I personally preferred the ones available braised as it carried a sweeter spiced scent that is well infused throughout. The wine sauce variety has a slight alcoholic touch to it which gives a cleaner flavour to the dish.

Yes, this is the giant Xiao Long Bao, though the restaurant places it as the King Sized Nanxiang Crab Roe Steamed Soup Bun ($6.80). Each serving is placed with a straw to enjoy the broth hidden within made out of rich stock with pieces of crab meat and crab roe. Warm throughout the meal with a slightly sea saltish taste, the soup is an excellent way to tickle the tastebuds further. The skin is recommended not to be consumed as it is very thick but for those who are game to try or even finish it, you are more than welcome. I tried a bit and the interior is very similar in flavour from what you would expect of a da pao.

The Xiao Long Baos which made Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant famous in Shanghai with queues endless. Each bao is decently filled with melted and slightly salty savoury stock which infuses through the meat filling which itself is simply made with minced pork and minimal spices, which is apparently how the Shanghainese prefer their pork dishes, intense in flavour. Each long goes for $6 and comes with 6 pieces. And do be careful when enjoying the broth, I nearly scalded my tongue.

 

Top : Crab Roe & Pork Filling Steamed Bun, Left : Shrimp & Pork Filling Steamed Bun, Right : Spicy Crabmeat & Pork Filling Steamed Bun *Do note that the Crab Roe and Shrimp varieties have been topped with a little “extras” in this session to distinguish each dish. There is currently no mixed variety in one basket available.

And if there is a crave to try something beyond the traditional, Nanxiang offers a selection of creations such as the Shrimp & Pork Filling Steamed Bun ($7.80 – 6 pieces), Crab Roe & Pork Filling Steamed Bun ($7.80 – 6 pieces), Spicy Crabmeat & Pork Filling Steamed Bun ($11.80 – 6 pieces)

My personal favourite would be the Crab Roe & Pork Filling Steamed Bun. Apart from the usual delicious tasting xiao long bao, the filling is well infused with crab roe throughout that leaves a slight textual crunch and sea saltiness in the otherwise usually meaty dish.

The Spicy Crabmeat would be my next choice as the sweet crab meat though slightly overpowered by the stronger tasting pork, is still a good blend. It is not spicy but more of a spiced spiciness which is only a gentle touch on the dish itself.

While decent marks will still go for the Shrimp & Pork Filling, this is relatively ok with the first bite reminding me of Har Gao because of the shrimp pieces within.

Another Crab Roe dish! This time round its the Vermicelli with Crab Roe ($12.80). I was visually impressed by this creation even though in its rawest form it is still mee sua that has been made elegant with decadent pieces of crab roe. I guess not many doctors would be pleased by this dish but it is still a worthy try.

The flavours are very neutral in this stocky broth of vermicelli with most flavour being left to the slight sweet nuttiness of the crab roe to sparkle the tastebuds.

Hua Niang” Steamed Cod Fish ($13) is worthily described as pleasant slices of cod fillet enshrouded in a blanket of hua niang and a touch of alcohol which has been infused through each slice of the fish. Crisp and firm to the bite, with the meat giving way in bursts of flavours made by the sauce and the oily goodness of the cod. Very nicely done and must be enjoyed when hot.

Its hard to imagine what could be so special of the Steamed Egg with Clams ($6) but its one dish though simple I enjoyed through and through. And the flawless texture akin to chawanmushi except that the dish is drizzled sauce and sesame oil, is a hit. I can visualize enjoying this with steaming hot white rice while slowing devouring each clam for their juicy meats.

The Braised Pork Belly Ribs ($12) is one dish I would love to go back for. Being an ardent fan of all things cartilages since young, the soft bones in the pork belly ribs made me an instant fan of the dish (you could imagine why I love bak kut teh so much =) But still, there is nothing much to shout about the meat itself as the fatty marbling is uneven from the lean meat to the fatty parts surrounding the soft bone. The lean meat itself is rather dry and chewy but if you immerse it in the fruit sauce that the ribs is braised in, expect a tangy slightly citrus yet fruity sweet creation that lightens the overall flavours and heatiness of the dish.

And the dish is also served with fried man tous to go along with the sauce!

When doing a little research about the restaurant online, I came across the term of Braised “Lion’s Head”. I knew this was one dish I had to try as the name itself is very interesting. I had a serving of Spring Onion Sauce Noodle with Braised Lion’s Head ($8). The noodles were somen like with a very smooth jade like texture that is based with a fragrant light soy and spring onion sauce. The Braised Lion’s Head itself are actually meatballs that really pack a punch in its meaty flavour. The first bite reveals the juiciness, followed by the intense taste of the meat, and lastly the satisfaction from enjoying it.

For desserts, I had the Golden Pumpkin Cake ($3.60 – 2 pieces). A crisp dough filled with lots of hot air for the puffed up presentation, the sweet fried dessert is good but a little too oily.

The Yam Paste with Sesame ($5.20 – 4 pieces) were more enjoyable with resemblance to a thickened yam blend with corn stuffed between rolls of fried bread and sliced diagonally.

And to quench all the food down, the serving of Icy Water Cress Honey ($2.50) was very crisp, cooling and smooth. Water cress may be frequently heard of it pork soup but using it to make a drink and coupled with honey, the taste was refreshingly similar to water chestnut yet with a lighter fragrance.

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Wide, clean decor at the Plaza Singapura branch

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Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant is one place to bring friends and family. Its casual environment makes each meal a pleasure and the ambience gives an uplifting dining experience. The dishes are also varied with a wide variety catering to individual tastebuds from the clean tasting to the heavier savoury choices, and with each dish being decently valued. Its name might be for Steamed Buns, but if you take a closer look, the specialties are more than just the steamed buns.

Many thanks to Leroy from Foodnews for the invitation.

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
68 Orchard Road
#02-01
Plaza Singapura
Tel : 6337 7446
Website : www.nanxiang.com.sg
Also available at

180 Kitchener Road, #04-15/16 City Square Mall, Singapore 208539
200 Victoria Street, #02-53 Bugis Junction, Singapore 188021

Nanxiang Express is located at:
23 Serangoon Central, #03-K17 Nex Mall, Singapore 556083