Los Angeles is regarded as one of the top dining destinations in the country, a multicultural mecca for foodies and chefs alike. From Michelin-starred restaurants to humble street carts, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold has written about it all for more than two decades. The first food writer to win the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, Gold is the subject of a new documentary, City of Gold.
Directed by Laura Gabbert and featuring some of L.A.’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurants, City of Gold takes the audience on a journey to discover Los Angeles through the eyes of one of its foremost cultural writers and a true ambassador of the city. Read on for a guide to L.A. restaurants featured in City of Gold.
Sheng jian bao, Shanghai-style buns that are far less renowned than xiao long bao, each contain a ground pork patty, though you’ll occasionally find seafood or vegetable variations. These pan-fried wonders are typically studded with sesame seeds, with crispy bottoms, supple tops, and definitely have the potential to scald your tongue. Thicker skins that other dumplings or potstickers allow SJB to contain gelatinized stock that turns to steaming soup when cooking, though that element is only occasionally utilized in L.A.
The filling is normally pretty rich, so a lot of people like to incorporate tangy vinegar (and sometimes vinegar mixed with soy sauce). Either dip in the sauce or bite a hole in the SJB wall and pour the sauces directly into the core before powering through the rest. Chasing each sheng jian bao with sips of hot jasmine tea also helps cut the richness.
Keep in mind that Shanghai-style restaurants list sheng jian bao under menu translations like “pan-fried pork buns” or “pan fried bao.” Now indulge in 10 of L.A.’s best options.