Black Truffle Sang Jin Bao
We’re sat along a communal bar, facing a wall full of magazine clippings and reviews for what this place specialises in - Black Truffle Sang Jin Bao. A sign tells us not to add any vinegar to this variant of the traditional Shanghainese bun, for fear of ruining the flavour. We obey. Another sign warns of the dangerously piping hot sauce within the buns - we’ll later regret not paying more attention to this when a careless bite sends a stream of lava-esque liquid shooting onto the wall. Restraint here is not licking this exquisite sauce off said wall, such is the truffle intensity.
When our four round parcels arrive, they look like an artist’s impression of miniature mountains poking above their white cloud paper plate - pretentious this place is not, and just how we like it. A mound of black sesame seeds atop the buns sets these little wonders apart from their bog-standard cousins, and are the reason we have traipsed away from the safety of Hong Kong Island, over to the wild streets of Sham Shui Po in Kowloon, prepared to risk our lives in this edgier part of Hong Kong for a taste of something memorable.
Once we recover from our wall-staining mishap we quickly realise how worthwhile this trip is. Part of the charm is having to slowly nibble your way around this bun, for fear of scalding the inner parts of your mouth. It almost forces an appreciation of all the elements that make this dish so spectacular. Small bites of the crispy, golden bottom layer are balanced with the soft, slightly chewy white upper body. The familiar bite of black sesame is added to the mix, and then the magic happens as you get close enough to the core. First, that heady tang of pure, unadultarated Truffle hits your nostrils. Then the umami aftertaste, as the sauce explores its way around your tongue. And then the slightly sweet, sticky texture of pork. It’s incredible to think that something so small and simple can contain so many of the right things - crispy, chewy, saucy, meaty, truffle-y. We’ve had some of the best San Jin Bao in Shanghai, but as Black Truffle San Jin Bao virgins, we have just had our minds blown.
G/F, 96 Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po
(They also have branches in Central, Wan Chai, Tin Hau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Tsuen Wan.)