New Shanghai

Shop 323 Level 3, Emporium 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 23rd August 2014

Today we continue our journey of eating our way through Emporium.  Not literally.  MerlinFan and I had been meaning to try out New Shanghai after we spotted it at the corner of the Level 3 Emporium food court the other day.  We were in the mood for dumplings and Asian desserts, so today was the day.

New Shanghai offers modern Shanghai style cuisine, covering mainly soup dumplings, pan fried buns, noodles and hot pots.  The front of the house was unattended when we arrived and there were already quite a few people waiting this Saturday noon.  After a few minutes one of the staff returned - you get a number and wait for it to be called.  The turnover was fairly quick, so that was okay.

The interior was beautifully decorated with dark ceilings and dark tile, dark wooden columns with old lanterns and bright red shutters over the windows.  You sit on tables with red wooden stools, which make you feel as if you are eating outside somewhere in a colourful vintage Shanghai street.  If you sit at the bar, you can also enjoy the theatre of watching the dumpling making.

Dumpling making fishbowl
New Shanghai offers quite nice range of drinks.  

I had the Special blended lychee green tea.  I liked the sweetness of the lychee and the slightly astringent aftertaste that came with the green tea, although it was not as pretty as AS and MerlinFan's drinks.

Special blended lychee green tea $4.80
MerlinFan loved her Lychee blended ice.  Tasted like... lychee blended ice.  Sorry, couldn't help it.  Reminded her of frozen lychee popsicles we used to have as kids, only in blended form.

Lychee blended ice $5.80
 Ditto for AS' Mango blended ice.
Mango blended ice $5.80
We ordered the Drunken chicken to start with.  Drunken chicken is a Shanghainese dish that is traditionally served cold, often as a starter to a banquet.  This version was slightly more spiked than the ones I'm used to in restaurants back home, where the flavour of the rice wine comes across more subtly.  The chicken was silky, slippery and succulent.

Drunken chicken $9.80
Our main carb for the day was the Shanghai noodle stir fried with shredded pork and vegetable.  To be honest, it wasn't as tasty as it looked.  Although the noodles were chewy and al dente enough, it was just basically like noodles coated in soya sauce and literally shreds of pork.  Overly salty too, and I already have a high salt tolerance.  

Shanghai noodle stir fried with shredded pork & vegetable $9.90
AS wanted to try their Xiao Long Bao a.k.a. the mini steamed pork buns.  

Xiao Long Bao $7.80
After watching a show about dumpling making, I have so much more respect for these chefs - how many times have we sat in a restaurant and mutter that the skin is too thick, it's not juicy enough etc etc, but in reality, these dumplings are not easy to make.  From the meticulously twisted tops to the calculated amount of thickness of the dough in order not to break in the steaming process, but to survive to your spoon and get that squirt of broth when you bite into the dumpling - it all takes skill and a lot of effort.  None of ours broke, and the skin was nice and soft, not overly thick and had a nice spoonful of broth with the juicy minced pork inside.

Spilt some of the broth, unfortunately!
AS was uncertain about ordering two pork bun dishes, but MerlinFan and I waved her off, cos we sure do love our pork!  And we had our hearts set on the Pan fried pork buns.  

Pan fried pork buns $10.50

MerlinFan and I were both trying to find the ones with the most chao ta (Hokkien for burnt) bottoms (cos we love them!).  Okay, fine they weren't really burnt - these soft, fluffy buns were pan fried, their bottoms browned to a crisp, toast-like consistency.  I absolutely loved the bready skins of these buns!  Take a bite and you will be rewarded with a delicious, gingery broth and a meaty pork ball.

We couldn't leave without dessert, so we ordered two to share.  First we had the Fresh mango shaved ice.

Fresh mango shaved ice $10.80
The shaved ice had a coarse, grated texture that you could actually crunch your teeth into. Drowned in condense milk, mango and a ball of vanilla ice cream, this would be a refreshing dessert in Summer.

Halfway, a waiter came and told us the next dessert we ordered, the Baked pastry filled with red bean paste, would take about ten minutes.  Surely more than ten minutes elapsed before our last dish of the day appeared at our table, rather oddly (and haphazardly) presented.  

Baked pastry filled with red bean paste $9.50
The pastries looked distinctly different from one another - why did one have sesame seeds and not the other two?  I turned them around and ah... mystery solved.

Not sure if they were deliberately overturned because they had split open in the cooking process (hiding the evidence - seems like other reviewers noted this too!) or what, but they weren't exactly the prettiest of dishes.  Taste wise they were pretty mediocre.  Although the pastry was flaky, it lacked a distinct flavour and the red bean paste was on the dry side and also lacked sweetness.  Can't say it was worth the wait.

Overall, New Shanghai has some hits and misses, however prices are reasonable, location excellent and they have a vast selection of dishes with a few I would still like to try.

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