Haha. I just realized after putting up the title – Paus – that it also means “whale” in the Malay language. Sure as hell I had a whale of a time when two of my best friends, Pauline and Fauzie – visited from Singapore throughout last week.
But the “paus” I have originally intended to write about here is, “buns” (包). Shanghai is famous for its “xiaolongbao” (小笼包) literally translated as buns in little baskets. So, how can my friends leave Shanghai without first tasting its royal juiciness (on the evening of the royal wedding). But alas, only Pauline has the good fortune since Fauzie is a Muslim and xiaolongbao only comes with pork fillings (we ordered the one with pork and crab meat). But whatever, she had fun with the other foods too, like these super cute steamed pumpkins, at Nanxiang Mantou Restaurant (南翔馒头店) on Wujiang Road Snack Street (吴江路美食街).
Strangely, there is nothing pumpkin about these steamed pumpkins. They're made of glutinous rice skin with red bean paste filling, much like mochi and "tang yuan" (汤圆), just that they're shaped like pumpkins. Who cares, since they're really cute and chewy ^_^
Although it's a famed Shanghainese delicacy, I must say I've tasted better ones in Hong Kong where the skin is extremely tender and thin. You need to handle it with great care to prevent the skin from breaking, spilling the scalding hot soup onto the basket. That would spoil all the fun. So there're actually special techniques to deliver the 小笼包 safely from the basket to your mouth with a pair of chopsticks and spoon.
The 小笼包 did not do a good job filling out our stomachs, so Pauline and I went for the "Soup Bun" (汤包 "tang bao"). It comes with a straw so that you can drink the scalding hot soup first (yes, there's a little red flag warning people of the hot content). The soup is a savory brew of meat and I suspect seafood, since it's a little fishy, but it's sweet and tasty, I love it. After the soup is drained, there's little else of anything left save the skin.