Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gongying Hundun - My Favorite Won-tons

Posting a couple of updates about my much-loved xiaolongbao has really got me started. While I'm generally negative about food in Shanghai, I think the snacks and street-side vendors are quite frequently great - and it's a lot more fun to talk about the food I like than the food I don't. This update will be about one of my favorite Shanghai snacks - what I call Gongying Hundun's won-tons. It actually doesn't have a name, "Gongying Hundun" is just taken from their sign, basically meaning "we serve won-tons."

Gongying Hundun is inconvenient unless you work near the American Center or have a weekday free - it's on 68 Yuyuan Lu, the far Eastern end of the street, across the street from a Kedi convenience store, and basically around the corner from Malone's. That's pretty central, but it's only open on weekdays from 11-1:30! Instead of a proper restaurant or even a proper stand, it operates out of the side of an old-fashioned apartment building. It would be easy to miss except that there's often a small line leading outside:

Much like xiaolongbao, while the basic concept of won-tons is extremely simple, there's a lot of small things to go wrong. But I don't think Gongying Hundun leaves any room to nit-pick - its hand-made Won-tons are consistently flawless, and the basic toppings are strongly flavored and match well. Perhaps part of the reason Gongying gets it right is the extremely basic menu - there's nothing available except for pork won-tons and Red Braised Pork - a Shanghai specialty. The pork looks great but I've never tried it. Here's a quick look at the menu, unfortunely there's no English anywhere:

The only variation is that you can add a boiled egg, and have it served in soup or have it served dry. You can also choose to add minced garlic, chili peppers, and hot oil - I load it up on all three! A bowl of won-tons is five kuai, and then you just tell the server what to add. I won't go into Chinese vocabulary. There's no English, but you order the won-tons right at the stand and a little pointing should be enough to convey intentions.

These won-tons aren't going to win any beauty contests, but they are oh-so-delicious:

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