It’s hard to believe that FAN Shoronpo Japones is the name of this place because – it’s cumbersome isn’t it? Shoronpo is the Japanese name for xiao long bao: a dumpling filled with mince pork suspended in soup (yup, inside the dumpling – there is soup) that originated in Shanghai. At F.S.J. (Let’s acronym that.) they do Shoronpo, they even have laminated A4 illustrations indicating how to eat the dumplings and warnings that contents are hot.
It takes some practice before you learn that you should nibble the foot of the steaming dumpling, slowly suck out the hot soup and then enjoy the rest of parcel. Or you can just do what my friend and I did, biting greedily into it and then exclaiming “Ahhh, its haaaa, haaaa.” All the whilst flapping your hands pathetically in front of your mouth while the Japanese ladies at the adjoining table look on.
It takes a while for the shoronpos to arrive. There is a man at the counter, a repurposed bar, deftly but under no obvious time pressure, shaping them. As if the agony of waiting for dumplings while other people are sucking on theirs is not enough. Other people are face deep in their bowl of Tan Tan noodles. Tan Tan is the Japanese take on Szechuan Dan Dan. At F.S.J. they are dreamy, a little bit spicy, with a tablespoon of sweet minced meat as garnish and enough sesame paste that sometimes the grit of it rubs your throat the wrong way and launches you into a little impromptu coughing fit. (More looks from the Japanese ladies).
Meanwhile the Yakisoba? Not my thing. At all. Sweet, vinegary and sticky.
Oh but the Gyoza. Up there with the Shoronpo.
The place itself is tiled and cold, probably a lease that was taken over and kept more or less as was. A young friendly waitress ushers us in and then a young man stops us with admonishing finger and tells us to wait until he is ready for us. Which we do because – we’ve heard about the dumplings.
Clearly the place is a personal affair, a few heads and a handful of well executed recipes. Over the holiday they are closed for almost 3 weeks (opening again on the 19th of January) making even the Catalans with their “we had to take another week because of the 3 kings” seem moderate vacation takers. This is only a problem because I was ready for my next bowl of Tan Tan precisely 48 hours after the first one.
FAN Shoronpo Japones
C/ Seneca 28