Disappointing Fried Bao at Zheng’s Juicy Fried Buns

Zheng's Juicy Fried BunsLocation: 4750 Yonge Street, North York (in the Emerald Park food court)
Website: https://baogong.business.site/

Last year, I checked out Sang-ji Fried Bao and tried the scallion oil noodles and the sang-ji bao (fried soup-filled pork buns).  I thought it was tasty enough, but nothing particularly mind-blowing.

Well, I just had the exact same meal at Zheng’s Juicy Fried Buns, and suddenly I’m appreciating Sang-ji Fried Bao so, so much more.

Zheng's Juicy Fried Buns

Here’s a one word review of the meal I just had: yikes.

I started with the scallion oil noodles, which tasted like plain instant noodles tossed in a whole bunch of soy sauce (and a buttload of oil); it was greasy and one-note salty with absolutely none of the sweet complexity you associate with this dish.  The deeply caramelized scallions were present, but they couldn’t do much to fight the face-punch of saltiness from the noodles themselves.  It doesn’t help that the undercooked instant noodles were a complete bummer to eat.

Zheng's Juicy Fried Buns

The pan-fried buns weren’t much better.  The wrapper was thick, gummy and unpleasantly doughy, and the would-be crispy bottom was actually just dry, like a stale cracker.  The soupy filling was completely bland (it needed a lot of vinegar to be even remotely edible), and the pork was surprisingly tough and flavourless.

Zheng's Juicy Fried Buns

Sang-ji Fried Bao is about two kilometres north of here, and trust me: that’s the one you want.  There’s no comparison.

Tasty Fried Dumplings at Sang-ji Fried Bao

Sang-ji Fried BaoLocation: 1 Byng Avenue, North York
Website: None

Sang-ji bao are basically like a traditional soup dumpling’s (a.k.a. xiao long bao) more rugged cousin.  They’re pan fried, with a slightly thicker skin and a dark brown crust on the bottom.  Soup dumplings are delicious, but if you want something a bit more hearty, sang-ji bao’s got your back.

And as you’d probably guess from the name, Sang-ji Fried Bao specializes in the stuff.  I was pretty excited to try it.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

We started with the scallion oil noodles, an absolutely delightful flavour-bomb of oily (but not overly greasy) noodles topped with peanuts and fried scallions.  The peanuts offer a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy noodles, and the imposingly dark fried scallions are packed with flavour and immensely satisfying.

I liked this dish even more than the fried dumplings.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

The sang-ji bao were certainly nothing to scoff at — they’re pleasingly porky and packed with scalding hot soup.  The wrapper is a bit too thick, however, and the whole thing is a touch on the bland side.

Sang-ji Fried Bao

Still, it’s got that satisfyingly crispy bottom, and the whole thing is tasty enough, even if it’s not the best version of these things that I’ve ever had.