Pentagon (Wu Jiao Chang) Shanghai, China
There are literally more food places in Shanghai than you can ever dream of trying in a life-time. Trust me on that one. Thus, it follows that if an eatery manages to make a name for itself in the population of millions as a 'best of', it must be pretty damn good.
Xiao Yang is one such place. Located within the Shanghai No. 1 Food Mall building of the Pentagon, it is so popular that well... basically, you should know better than to think you're going to get a seat.
My mum and I went for breakfast one day. She's a bit of an early riser so we frequently arrived at shopping centers before anything was open. On this morning, all other stores were closed but Xiao Yang was just opening up a bit earlier than normal. Already, there was a queue and the long tables were filling up quickly.
Shanghai has 2 traditional breakfast items: little dragon buns and sticker buns (i.e. pan-fried buns). Xiao Yang's specialty is the sticker buns.
I'm not sure on this but I think the idea with sticker buns is that they are not steamed - rather they are pan-fried raw and steamed in the pan?? The result is a thick, crisp base and tender upper casing. The filling is traditionally pork and Shanghainese judge how well-made a sticker bun is by the amount of 'soup' inside.
These babies were so juicy that you had to bite a hole in the casing and suck the soup out before munching on them whole. I never was a huge fan of sticker buns but there is such a thing as the exceptional that makes you change your mind.
My mum also ordered their curry beef broth which was very authentic in flavors. When ordering the broth, you have the option of adding mung bean vermicelli.
There isn't a huge variety of items to order from at Xiao Yang but most people queue up just for the sticker buns.
I watched in awe as the staff whisked out batch after batch. It's amazing how efficient these guys are yet there are never enough buns to kill the queue!
Prices are cheap enough that even my grandpa (who never spends a 'jiao' that he doesn't have to) indulges himself regularly.
This is on my list of places that I visit every time I go back to Shanghai.