You can spend a large portion of your life in search of the perfect dumpling. On the way you will encounter many less-than-satisfactory candidates: dry-skinned, lukewarm or scalding hot, over-salty and under-flavoured. But when you find a good dumpling – a fragrant, savoury parcel wrapped in silky wonton – the reward is great. This is the kind of dumpling you will find at New Shanghai. With a range of styles and flavours to satisfy the most ardent dumpling fiend, the trickiest thing about dining at New Shanghai is whittling down the enormous menu.
We order a smorgasbord, with dumplings top of the order. Steam me up, scotty!
Mini-pork dumplings have all the hallmarks of classic flavour, but I’m excited about the menu newbies. Chicken and celery dumplings are tasty, comforting, but cannot compare to the fragrant combo of beef and coriander. The proudest among them however is the Shepherd’s Purse. The shepherd’s purse and pork wontons resemble folded paper boats, bathed in spicy speckled red chili oil and a creamy rivulet of sesame butter. It is dumpling satisfaction at its best.
As good as they are, it’s not just about the dumplings at New Shanghai. Oh no, there’s waaaaay more to it than that. The Pan Fried Pork Buns are a celebrated house specialty; chubby puffs of dough sprinkled over with black sesame. Biting down into one delivers a slight satisfying crunch before getting down to business, with a juicy pork filling at the roll’s centre. Then there are steamed bread pockets – one of life’s simple pleasures. Opening one up, stuffing it with sweet shredded beef, cucumber and lettuce, and chomping down into the meaty, doughy goodness brings an intimacy with food that should be present at every meal. This is a dish that deserves to be shared among mutually enthusiastic eaters.
And New Shanghai caters just as well to the herbivores among us. The vegetarian dumplings stack up admirably next to its meaty partners. Filled with pumpkin, spinach and vermicelli, they are hearty mouthfuls in their own right. Spinach stir fried in garlic is a fairly simple concept for side greens, but it’s incredibly addictive and I find myself piling mouthfuls down my gullet although I’m already full to bursting.The highlight of the meal is Salt and Pepper Deep Fried Tofu. These crisp-skinned cubes give way to an explosion of silken tofu once bitten. Toss them in soy and vinegar, down with dried chili and shallots, or use them to soak up the Shepherd’s Purse sauce: they can do no wrong. They are a truly moreish celebration of texture and flavour.
If you have exceeded your limit (like we certainly did) the freshness of silky mango pudding actually offers some respite, particularly if coupled with a few sips of tea. There is an excellent selection to choose from including jasmine, pu-erh and a signature green and black blend. Although it is located inside a shopping mall, once you enter New Shanghai and turn your back on the outside world, though still bustling with diners the decor is dark and sensual, making anonymity and over-indulgence a little too easy.
Shop B-038, Chatswood Chase
Chatswood, NSW 2067
Ph: +61 2 9412 3358