On our second trip together to Paris, we came to the city with no expectations and no preparation — at least in terms of dining. We figured we could just follow our noses to something tasty for lunch. That’s how we found the hole-in-the-wall Jixiao’s Buns.
Lunch between the Louvre and Notre-Dame
After a brief selfie session in front of the Louvre (the foodiepackers do their best to avoid long queues, so we didn’t go in), we took a right and ended up on the River Seine. Cold, but still scenic during our November trip.
We strolled down the promenade, chatting about nothing in particular. And after some minutes, we caught sight of a simple white facade. We peeked into the steamed up windows and were finally convinced by delectable pictures of noodles and buns.
Inside a steaming kitchen
We chose a table inside, studied the menu, and quickly settled on an order of two pork and two vegetarian Sheng jian baos. These are also known as sheng jian mantou or pan-fried, steamed buns or soup dumplings. Then we saw the waitress deliver a serving of buns to another patron. Not tiny, but small for our appetite. Let’s make it two orders of 4 buns, we said.
The kitchen at Jixiao is in plain view behind a high counter and we watched as the chef moved between boiling pots of noodles, a hot pan with frying buns, and the bamboo baskets where the fried buns are steamed before serving.
Shanghai style soup dumplings in Paris
Sheng jian bao (生煎包) are a street food snack originally from Shanghai. The filling includes a bit of gelatin which melts into a soupy broth in the process of cooking.
Several minutes later, our mouths already watering with anticipation, the buns arrived piping hot, slightly crispy on bottom, and garnished with chopped scallions.
Eating the buns
Jixiao provides a how-to guide for eating the buns — this will be helpful if it’s your first time eating this soupy treat. First, you should take a small bite, but careful because the hot broth can squirt out. Next, slurp out the broth. Dip the bun into the black vinegar sauce provided and, voilà, enjoy the savory goodness!
Both of us loved the pork bun. Tender, flavorful pork filling. Perfectly balanced with the tang of the black vinegar.
The vegetarian bun was not so convincing. The flavor of the sautéed vegetables was good, but lacked a little something. Maybe some hot sauce would have done the trick. But that might just be the author’s preference.
In addition to buns, Jixiao’s also serves noodle dishes and noodle soups. But we decided to save that for another time.
Where to stroll next
After this quick, but soothing meal, we emerged back onto the streets of Paris and continued our walking tour via Notre Dame and the Hôtel de Ville to the Centre Pompidou, where we got some lovely photos of the sprawling Paris cityscape.
About Jixiao's Buns
Walk in to Jixiao’s Buns after visiting Notre-Dame or the Louvre and get your serving of pan fried soup dumplings.