I love a good feed that is also kind on the wallet. A while back I had dinner at New Shanghai at the Ashfield branch with a bunch of my uni girls. Between the four of us, we stuffed ourselves silly with several servings of dumplings, sides and main dishes, and we also managed to fit in a serve of fried ice cream each. The entire meal cost us an amazing $17 each!
When George of Wasamedia invited me to check out the Chatswood Chase branch, I was curious to see how the Ashfield branch differed to the Chatswood Chase branch as we thoroughly enjoyed the food at Ashfield.
The immediate difference I noticed was the decor. The Ashfield branch has very minimal decor whilst the Chatswood Chase branch is very stylish and sleek. One part of the restaurant made me feel like I was in an emperor’s palace and at the other end, a Chinese bar of some sort. In the middle of the room is a glass big glass tank which allows customers to observe the chefs hand-making 3 of the signature dumplings on the menu. I couldn’t help it but fix my eyes to their quickly moving hands as they fill and pleat the dumplings repeatedly and efficiently.
We arrived on a Monday night and were quite surprised to see the place busy and that there were a few groups of people waiting for a table outside the food court.
We started the night off with drinks. I enjoyed the homemade honey and citron tea which was served warm with chopped up pieces of lemon settled on the bottom of the glass. The flavour of the tea was subtle with hints of sweet honey and lemon. Anthony enjoyed his TsingTao beer but thought it probably wasn’t suitable to have with dumplings and Chinese food; he wished he had gone for the tea as well.
We had ordered a decent amount of food and when it came out, it pretty much came out all at once! The entire table was filled with plates of food so we got alot of stares and glances from nearby tables and I’m pretty sure they all were thinking that we were pigs. It was quite embarrassing. So to avoid this situation, I’d probably suggest ordering in two lots as the food comes out quickly and to ensure food is hot when you get around to eating it.
Extra large Pacific oysters that are plump and freshly shucked made a feature on the new seasonal menu, there were 3 oysters flavours on offer we decided to try one of each; the flavours were 1) lightly fried and tossed in special Tawny port sauce 2) steamed with ginger, shallot and soy sauce, and 3) steamed with vermicelli and X.O. sauce. I think for those who don’t like the slippery texture of oysters, steaming or lightly frying them definitely changes their texture slightly. Overall there was a nice balanced of sweetness for all flavours but my favourite one was the steamed oyster with vermicelli and X.O. sauce, I enjoyed the additional slippery textual component whilst Ant enjoyed the steamed oyster with ginger, shallot and soy sauce more as he found the flavour to be more fresh.
Drunken chicken, something I’ve never heard of before Alvin cooked it on Masterchef, was served cold and was easily one of our favourites of the night. This classic Shanghainese dish has the chicken soaking overnight in Chinese Shaoxing wine with herbs and spices, resulting in tender pieces of liquor-flavoured chicken with slippery skin.
The cold salad of shredded jellyfish & radish was tossed with sea salt & a light soy dressing and was soft, crunchy and refreshing.
Then there were a selection of dumplings to be had, some are the signature dumplings which are made fresh on site. There was no way we could pass up having the Xiao Long Bao (“Shanghai steamed soup dumplings”), these dumplings resemble a little money purse and encases a sweet broth and a juicy and flavoursome pork filling. They were delicate but held together well without bursting because they last thing you’d want is to spill the broth from these dumplings before they reach your mouth. Just be careful when you pop one into your mouth otherwise you’ll get hot liquid exploding into your mouth.
These pan fried pork dumplings are similar to the Xiao Long Bao but the skin is slightly thicker and pan fried until the bottoms are crispy. Even though essentially the same ingredients are used for both these dumplings, a different cooking method simply changes the texture of the dumplings; resulting in two delicious dumplings. Once again, be careful with the hot broth when you take a bit into these dumplings.
Another favourite of the night were the pan fried pork buns, once again the same juicy and flavoursome pork filling and soup of the Xiao Long Bao is used in this bun but the pastry is soft and fluffy with a deliciously crispy bottom. A must try but be careful not to squirt the soup across the table like I did. Whoops!
The steamed vegetarian dumplings are jam packed with various vegetables. Although they were quite nice, I felt they were a little dry though.
Shepherd’s purse & pork wonton tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil & spices was definitely a different way of having dumplings for me. I think the sesame butter sauce lifts the dumplings to a new dimension, it was creamy and nutty, however I’d wish there was a little bit more of a kick from the chilli oil though.
A special item on the new seasonal menu was the steamed Chinese meatball with crab meat and Chinese chestnuts. To prepare this dish, pork belly is hand chopped and combined with fresh female mud crab meat and Chinese chestnut to form a ball. Each meatball is cooked in an individual pot and covered and steamed with a layer of Chinese cabbage on top for 3 hours as it cooks, the soup that results in each pot comes from the meatball and cabbage.
It was so soft that the meatball would almost melt in your mouth. I loved the fragrant and cleansing broth that it was served with. Give me a bowl of this when I’m sick and I’ll be one happy girl.
This simple-looking dish of Chinese rice cakes with shepherd’s purse and shredded pork was a bit of a struggle to finish as they were extremely filling. Little thick disks of rice cakes were stir fried and provided a chewy texture to the dish. In comparison to the other flavoursome dishes we had that night, this dish seemed to lack a little in flavour. I think ordering these rice cakes with either the blue swimmer crab or X.O. sauce and shredded pork would’ve been a better choice.
Deep fried prawn coated with salted egg yolk was something I’ve been keen to try after reading about them on various food blogs. I love having salted egg simply with a bowl of plain congee and a splash of soy sauce so I was curious to find out how they would taste. Although the prawns were cooked perfectly, they weren’t as crunchy and salty as I had imagined them to be, the coating was quiet powdery and crumbly; it reminded Ant of cheezels.
An order of deep fried chicken was made and we enjoyed how juicy it was and how crispy the skin was. The accompanying special garlic & chilli sauce packed quite a punch, just how I like it.
We felt there was a need to order some sort of greenery to accompany our meal. From the new seasonal menu we ordered stir-fried string beans with Chinese pickle. The beans are stir-fried with garlic and a pickle made from Chinese choy sum in olive oil until their skin begins to wrinkle. They still had a bit of a bite to them and the amount of garlic was just right, I couldn’t really taste the pickled choy sum though.
The food here at New Shanghai is reasonably priced and decently portioned, which makes for an adorable and delicious night out. All dishes are meant to be shared around the table which is ideal as there is a huge selection of items on the menu ranging from dumplings, soups, rice and noodle dishes, mains and desserts to choose from. Service is fairly quick and attentive. I must come back for more dumplings and to try some more of the dishes.
Phuoc and Anthony dined as guest at New Shanghai, thanks to New Shanghai and George of Wasamedia.