Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Dingtele serves first-class pan-fried pork dumplings

Dingtele’s sheng jian bao, or pan-fried pork dumplings, are yummy.
Dingtele’s sheng jian bao, or pan-fried pork dumplings, are yummy. ST PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE

Ever since I came back from a Shanghai work trip last week, I have been craving sheng jian bao, or pan-fried pork dumplings.

Although not as famous as the ubiquitous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings), this Shanghainese street snack, if done well, is equally delicious and addictive.

On a cool evening stroll through Shanghai's Nanjing Lu, I wolfed down four sheng jian bao at a go, after a big dinner.

It is a good thing then that the new Shanghainese eatery Dingtele, just down the road from my apartment in Kovan, churns out such fantastic sheng jian bao.

In the four months that the diner has been open, I have made many return trips there, including several just this week.

The sheng jian bao ($4.80 for four), all pan-fried to order, boast a flavourful pork filling encased in a crispy, bread-like skin. As soon as you bite into the succulent dumpling, the skin bursts and hot soup flows out, so be careful not to squirt it all over the table or scald your tongue.

While the sheng jian bao are available for takeaway, they are best consumed on the spot, when they are freshest.

  • DINGTELE

  • 949 Upper Serangoon Road, tel: 6282-4380; open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm, daily

    Rating: 4/5

I am happy enough to eat the sheng jian bao on their own, but Dingtele - which means "first class" in the Shanghainese dialect - also serves many other yummy treats that are worth a try.

What the store lists on its menu as "braised pork belly shitake mushroom dumplings" ($4.50 for three) are, in fact, Shanghainese shaomai, or steamed dumplings filled with pork and glutinous rice. Because of the rice, this dish can get you feeling full very quickly, so it is best to share a serving with friends.

Those who still have room for more can order some of the simple but excellent noodle dishes - the noodles with soya sauce and scallions ($5) are particularly fragrant and satisfying. There is no meat in it, but it goes well with a dollop of chilli oil and a plate of deep-fried pork chops ($6.50) on the side.

I am happy I do not have to fly to China anytime soon to get an authentic Shanghai snack fix.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'First-class dumplings '. Print Edition | Subscribe