Making xialongbao at Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, Shanghai, China. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006.
Xialongbao are the famous only-made-in-Shanghai dumplings filled with boiling soup, and Nanxiang is the most famous place in Shanghai to get them; it took nearly an hour to get through the line and buy our box of 16. Big windows look into the kitchen, where this harried man is part of a team of half-dozen people that takes cut squares of dough, fills them with meat and liquid and then pinches them shut, ready for steaming.
During my wait in line, there was a never-ending of parade of parents helping their young children peer through the glass to watch raw ingredients become tasty dumplings, much the way I used to watch pizzas go from flying circles of dough to the oak-burning brick oven to ready to eat.