Friday, July 4, 2014

New Shanghai (by invitation), Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

The Emporium shopping center has certainly brought an influx of big-name Sydney-based restaurants to Melbourne.  One such restaurant is New Shanghai, a dumpling house that has a contemporary twist on Shanghai street food.  Read on to find out how you can win a year's supply of dumplings at New Shanghai!

The Eat And Be Merry Crew were invited to attend the launch of New Shanghai.  Situated in the third level food court, New Shanghai looks and feels more like a proper restaurant.  It has it's own dining area and its decorated in a 1920s colonial style building with ornate wooden furniture, red lattice detailing and vintage posters. 

With an extensive menu, we were spared the difficult decision of deciding what to order.  We were to be treated to a banquet of many, many dishes, including some of their signature dishes.  As with the food, there's also quite an extensive drinks menu.  We got to try their tea-based concoctions.  I went for the passionfruit tea, which had a nice fruity flavor and packed a strong tea flavor (from properly brewed tea).

A trio of cold entrees were presented to whet our appetites.  The drunken chicken had a nice Shaoxing flavor and generally quite tender in texture.

My favourite of the cold entrees was the lightly pickled cucumber.  Ever-so-slightly blanched, the cucumbers were crunchy.  Lightly salted and loaded with lots of fresh garlic - great snacking dish.

The Shanghainese sweet and sour pork were saucy bits of meat and gristly bits.  Despite my description of it, the dish is quite tasty - it's like Chinese style barbeque ribs.  I can easily imaging nibbling a plate of these with a cold beer over a conversation with friends.

We got to try quite a few of the hot dishes.  First up was the xiao long bao, which was something everyone wanted to try.  A reasonably thin pastry that encased a piping hot broth.  It was properly hot as a few of us got burnt lips in our eagerness to try them.  I'd definitely rate these xlb as one of the better ones around town.  The pork filling was juicy but not fatty, which is how I like them.

Another dish that got a lot of "oohs" was the panfried pork buns.  I love the cute round shape.  A thicker pastry (more like a bao) with a perfect golden, crispy base that encased the same pork filling.

I didn't get to try the vegetarian dumplings but I did like the open-faced presentation of it. 

The poetically named shepherd's purse (pork and prawn wonton w red chilli oil and peanut sauce) were slippery and beautiful.  The mild chilli and peanut butter topping added a nice contrasting texture to the wontons.  

You can watch the dumplings being made. 

The spring onion pancakes were crispy but I was hoping that it'd have more spring onions.

I have to admit I'm not entirely sure what dish is called.  And upon reflection, I think there's actually two dishes here.  Initially we all thought this was the shallot and smoked ham sesame puff (certainly, going by what you see it fits the description).  However, when we bit into one of them, we were surprised to see that it was filled with grated turnip.  As such, we then thought this dish was the turnip cake - albeit different from the usual square, flat and pan fried form that you find at yum cha.  As I write this up, I noticed that the top two puffs have a darker colour than the bottom two puffs.  So it could be that both the sesame puff and turnip cake are presented here.  

Inside one of the puffs, lots of fresh, grated turnip.  

The braised pork belly with sweet soy sauce was tender and came in this big pot.  The pork had a nice fat-to-meat ratio.  It's very comfort food and would go well with a big bowl of rice.

The rainbow beef was quite tasty.  It was very thin slivers of beef that's been coated in batter, deep fried and served with a sweet sauce (plum sauce, I think) drizzled over it.  A bit sinful but very nice.  Despite the beef being thinly sliced and deep friend, the meat was quite tender and juicy.

The stir fry string beans w dried shrimp and soy sauce were a tad over cooked.  Although, I have read recipes for double cooked beans that resemble what we were served, so it could be that this was deliberate.

The salt and pepper soft shell crab were very moreish - tender crab meat in the yummy salty, crispy batter.  These were best eaten straightaway.  Despite the presence of the dried chillies, these weren't spicy.

The fragrant and crispy duck w steamed buns was a visually impressive dish.  A big plate of fluffy plain baos (which opened up and resembling a butterfly) with nice chunks of roast duck, sliced cuces, spring onions and served with hoisin sauce and a salt and pepper garnish.  A different take on Peking duck and quite fun to eat.

By the time the last two main dishes came out I was too full to try them.  They were the Shanghainese fried noodle w pork and veg...

...and the XO fried rice.

Food – 7.5
Ambiance – 7.5
Service – 7*
Price – 7.5*
*Scores are notional as we were guests of New Shanghai.

I like New Shanghai because that it offers a different dining experience.  It combines the best of eating street food (the great array of dishes and drinks) and it has a nice restaurant feel to the place (despite being in a food court) and it doesn't have that noisy chaos that you'd get if you were dining at a typical yum cha restaurant.

There's definitely something for everyone here - from small plates to larger sharing plates. Service is friendly and prompt.

For those who love dumplings, New Shanghai is currently running a competition through New Shanghai's Facebook page,which gives fans the chance to win free dumplings for a year at the Melbourne Emporium restaurant.  That's 52 serves of dumplings!

New Shanghai
Third floor, The Emporium
287 Lonsdale St
Melbourne 3000

New Shanghai on Urbanspoon


ming said...

Lovely post and even more lovely to finally meet you! Shame you missed out on the dessert, they were gorgeous!

EatAndBeMerryCrew said...

Thanks Ming :) It was great to meet you too! It's probably best that I didn't eat dessert - I was so full.
I saw your photos of New Shanghai on Urbanspoon - stunning!

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