Monday, 15 October 2012

New Shanghai, Lemon Grove, Chatswood

New Shanghai in Lemon Grove is one of my favourite haunts in Chatswood, even compared to its dolled up sister in Chatswood Chase. In this post I will focus on the Lemon Grove branch without launching into a dissertation of the reasons why this branch should be preferred to the other. So onwards I will go...

The Lemon Grove version has been designed to look like a typical casual Chinese restaurant - tiles on the floor, lots of lighting, and quite basic decor. The place is clean, though, and when it comes to this sort of cuisine, that is often all I expect. In a similar design to Chef's Gallery in the city, New Shanghai displays the dumpling folding process through glass windows at opposite ends of the restaurant, which is pretty interesting to watch.

The lunch crowd tends to make the place packed by 1pm, so if you want to check New Shanghai out during lunch time, you're better off grabbing a table earlier - especially if you intend to bring friends, as the chatter from other tables carries and makes it difficult to hold a conversation. When I took the above photos, it was around noon (maybe a bit earlier, even).

Over the years, I've discovered what they make well consistently and what they're not very good at delivering.

Things to AVOID (and general negatives):
  • Anything with cold noodles and peanut sauce
  • Shanghai style noodles IF you like your noodles spicy - it looks like there are chili flakes in the photos but they brush it off as part of the lighting. You can try asking them to add XO sauce, but based on experience they won't do it for you.
  • Crab xiao long bao: strong seafood/ fishy taste (not the good kind)
  • They don't provide serving utensils
  • There is no chili oil
  • Waitstaff have limited English - when ordering, I would advise you to stick to reading out the numbers. It can also be difficult to get their attention.
  • They charge you for takeaway boxes (but they're something like $0.20 per box so it's not a big deal).
  • Quite a lot of MSG - you feel really thirsty afterwards
So enough about the cons! It's not all bad. For one, tea is 100% free.

The pan fried pork buns (number 205 on the menu) are by far my favourite New Shanghai dumplings. They come out piping hot with lots of soup inside, which means I can employ my favourite technique of:
  1. Chomping off the top part,
  2. Drinking the soup and
  3. Devouring everything else.
 The base of the buns are crisp, while the dough is fairly thick (which I know some Chinese dislike, but I like my buns doughy). They come as a serving of 8 - as you can see below, someone snatched a bun before I could take a photo.

Pan fried pork bun x 8 pieces ($9.20)

 Next on my list of favourites is the pan fried pork dumpling (207), which taste similar to the pan fried pork buns, but are crunchier due to their crescent shapes. They also contain less soup, which is great for the beginner dumpling eaters out there!

Pan fried pork dumpling x 8 ($9.20)

How can you go to a Shanghainese restaurant and not order shallot pancakes? I certainly can't resist. At New Shanghai, they're pretty thick, but they're crisp and not tough at all. They're located in the dumpling section as number 208.

Shallot pancake ($5.20)

 Moving on to the steamed dumplings, we have the steamed mini pork buns (xiao long bao), which is 201 on their menu. As with the pan fried pork buns, you have to be careful when eating these because the soup can squirt out and hit your neighbour (or if you're eating with your worst enemy, feel free to be careless).

Steamed mini pork buns x 8 ($7.20)

By now, you're probably thinking that all the dumplings must taste the same, except for the different textures depending on how they're cooked. You would be right - mostly. I present to you the pork and coriander dumplings (217)! As someone who doesn't like coriander, believe me when I say that you must try these. The coriander is a refreshing ingredient to all the pure pork fillings and it's so easy to pop one after another into your mouth.

Pork and coriander dumplings x 12 ($8.20)

Another thing they make pretty well is the steamed pork and mushroom with stick rice dumpling dish (number 212). It's not what I order every visit, but it's soft, steamed and full of rice, which is a nice change to the other dumplings.

Steamed pork and mushroom with sticky rice x 6 ($8.20)
So there you have it! Great dumplings at a pretty great price.

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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