Look! A crowd. Always a welcome sight when it comes to food in Asia. Yes I'm sure this post feels kinda like deva ju since it seems I just wrote about these baby pan-fried pork buns last month, but this cart is different (ha, I feel like I write that all the time). Nope, in the case of the Shilin Night Market shop, their buns were moderately thick skinned, juicy pockets of pure pork. A meat bun at its finest. This cart 許記 (Xu Ji), found nestled in 師大夜市 (Shida Night Market), has a slight twist on the interpretation of 生煎包. They use a skin only marginally thicker than that of a soup dumpling and fill it with a blend of pork and cabbage, half and half, resulting in what can basically be considered a juicier, fatter potsticker. Interested yet?
Everything is handled outside and done on hand on the small counter that's formed by their cart (I'm pretty sure it's not really clean). Also, no one's wearing gloves, but it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that they can churn out hundreds, if not thousands, of these pockets of pork and cabbage deliciousness per hour, just to keep up with the demand. I can only imagine how quickly this place would get shutdown by the department of health if it were in NYC...
Know how much the box of 12 cost? All of 72 NT ($2.25). If you think about this on a per bun basis, that's 6 NT for a bun/dumpling hybrid that could put most places in the US to shame. That's less than 20 cents per bite of sunshine, happiness, and everything that's good in the world. It's less than a quarter for 20 seconds of pure bliss. It's like a gateway drug of sorts, except instead of getting arrested, you just get fat.
A closer look, just so you can appreciate the subtle charring that's present across every single one of these puppies, uniform too. The glistening of the skins should give an indication of just how moist/oil-laden these fried buns are, and I think the juice content should be somewhat obvious given the shape as well. If anyone's wondering which place is better for 生煎包... there's no comparison, these two aren't replacements for each other, they're both spectacular in their own way.
Side note... I've become a champion of ambidextrous chopstick usage since I need my right hand for pictures. Thanks food writing, useless skill attained!