Taste of Jian Nan: Addictive spicy & numbing one-bite dumplings; a must-try at Maxwell Food Centre

Even after familiarising myself with so many stalls in Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown, I recently found another new favourite  — Taste of Jiang Nan. Specialising in sheng jian bao (pan-fried buns), this stall is often overshadowed by the more popular stalls in the area.

taste of jian nan - stall entrance

After my research, I was gunning for a piece of their pork chop slab, which is served neatly atop a bed of noodles. However, no such item was available during my visit. Slightly taken aback, I waited for others to place their orders before deciding on which items to try.

What I tried at Taste of Jiang Nan

taste of jian nan - wonton

As a major spice lover, I could not resist helping myself to a portion of the Red Oil Dumpling (S$6.50/10 pieces). For the same price, those looking for a more filling option may order the Red Oil Dumpling Noodles instead. 

As soon as I removed the cover from the container, I caught a whiff of spice similar to mala. The dumplings were half submerged in the sauce, causing their yellow skin to turn red. I tasted the sauce alone — spicy, numbing, tangy and fragrant. The use of vinegar and sesame oil elevated the spiciness and brought dimension to the marinade. 

taste of jian nan - pork filling in wonton

Next, I bit into a dumpling and was greeted with a burst of spicy and numbing flavours. The meat and pork filling encased within the thin wonton skin was laden with pork juice. The red oil seasoning sauce complemented the heavy pork flavour well. 

I squealed with excitement as I popped another whole dumpling into my mouth. These dumplings were easily my favourite component of this meal. I can already see myself returning for another serving when I am craving a meal that warms my tummy. 

taste of jian nan - scallion noodles in bowl

I was thrilled to know that the team offered Scallion Noodles (S$4.50). I recall the first time I ate them at a different stall. Rather than a pungent onion smell, the bouncy noodles had an extremely fragrant and distinct scallion taste. 

Shang Hai Fried Xiao Long Bao: Utterly addictive pan-fried pork buns by ex-Crystal Jade dim sum chef

Since the customer in front of me had ordered that, I was convinced to do the same. While tossing the noodles to evenly coat them with the scallion oil, my senses were piqued by the subtle aroma of scallion. Visually, I noted that they were significantly lighter in colour than what I had seen at my first experience, which suggested that less scallion oil had been added here. 

My assumption was right. I wished the thin noodle strands were more chewy and did not clump together as much. I even had to resort to cutting them into more manageable bites.

taste of jian nan - scallion oil noodles

A mild scallion flavour gently perfumed the noodles. Because of the meagre ratio of scallion oil to noodles, the dish simply lacked the characteristic flavour and aroma. However, I would expect those with a preference for lighter flavours to enjoy this dish. 

Personally, I prefer a heavier, more distinct taste of scallion oil. I resorted to dousing the noodles with the Red Oil Dumpling marinade to complete the dish. Additionally, I felt that the dish was too plain to warrant its price tag. 

taste of jian nan - fried buns

I noticed a giant pan located at the back of the stall that was continuously rotating. Within it were racks of buns that were being cooked in large batches. I was excited to quickly sink my teeth into one of their signature perfectly identical Fried Buns.

3 flavours were available for these Fried Buns. I chose the Original Fried Buns (S$4/3 pieces) but more adventurous eaters may order the Curry Fried Buns (S$4.50/3 pieces)

taste of jian nan - pork buns bottom

Upon my first bite, I discovered that the top half of the bun was soft and pillowy while the bottom half crackled as I bit through. Coupled with its golden brown hue, these were indications of a perfectly crispy exterior on the bottom side of the bun. It reminded me of the taste of a deep-fried mantou.

taste of jian nan - pork buns

The same pork filling was used here and the juices flowed out deliciously. In terms of fullness, these buns were much heavier  than I expected. Perhaps, this was due to the use of too much flour and less meat to make each bun.

One thing to note, though. While I devoured the rest of my meal, the pork juices within the buns gradually soaked to the bottom. Consequently, a soggy bottom replaced the satisfying crunch. I would recommend customers consume this first before digging into the rest of the meal. 

Final thoughts

taste of jian nan - several dishes

I came for the Fried Buns but stayed for those addictive Red Oil Dumplings. Typically, I find conventional spicy dumplings not as spicy or numbing as I would like. Here, they were ideal.

To find Taste of Jiang Nan — especially in such a prime spot — is a win for me. Maxwell Food Centre continues to earn top spots in my personal food list and I cannot wait for you to try it out!

Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$15 per pax

Shen Yang Feng Wei: Noodles & xiao long baos handmade upon order by native Chinese chef

Price: $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

Taste of Jiang Nan

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-62, Singapore 069184

Our Rating 3/5

Taste of Jiang Nan

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-62, Singapore 069184

Telephone: 8342 9898
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5pm - 8pm (Daily)
Telephone: 8342 9898

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5pm - 8pm (Daily)