Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shanghai Taste, Malvern East by Big Fil

Whereas Chinese food in Australia once inevitably meant (Westernised) Cantonese Cuisine, in some ways that’s like saying French or Italian cuisine represents all there is to European food. Yes they are important but they hardly represent all there is to be found, with significant regional differences based on geography, climate, trade and even who invaded who. It probably even misrepresents the variety within each of those cuisines. It’s the same thing with China, a country vast as Europe but with only a small if growing appreciation of its regional differences.

In the last couple of years a number of Shanghai style dumpling houses have appeared around town, particularly around the CBD but with a few also scattered around my side of Melbourne in the south-east. One of the most recent of these is Shanghai Taste. I came across it for the first time just as it was opening late last year (I think), but had waited until an old friend and dumpling admirer Prowler was free to come on down and try it out with me.

Admittedly it was around 6pm on a Saturday Night but I was surprised at just how quickly this place has become popular. It’s only a couple of minutes drive to the very popular Auntie’s Dumplings, but if the crowd when we visited is any guide there is more than sufficient interest in the area to sustain a second dumpling place.

One thing which might be driving Shanghai Taste’s popularity is that unlike the many dodgy and greasy looking dumpling places this one is light, bright and clean. Comfy chairs, tables that you can rest your arms on without them sticking, not a single cockroach spotting running for the corners, who’d have thunk it.

No surprises in the type of food available, mainly lots of dumplings, noodles and some simple rice dishes. It’s simple, fast, casual and easy. First dish to arrive, pork wontons. Followed by fried prawn and pork dumplings and some steamed pork dumplings. Why do I not list and describe them separately you might ask. Well, it’s really because there’s not really that much to say about them. I thought they were all kind of mediocre, neither good nor bad but average. I’ve had better, I’ve had worse. I’d have them again because they are local but if they weren’t I wouldn’t be making any special trips. I think the main issue was that both the wontons and pork dumplings were a bit overcooked and the skins consequently mushy.

To break up all the dumplings we also ordered some fried Chinese broccoli. Not bad with a nice crunchiness and enough garlic that we wouldn’t need to worry about vampires for a while.

Nice place, friendly staff and while it felt a little disorganised the food came out quickly enough given that they were almost full. The main issue is that while there isn’t anything bad about it there isn’t anything which stands out either. Somewhere that fits the bill if you are in the area and want something cheap, cheerful and filling.

Food – 6
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 7
Price – 7

310 Waverley Road
Malvern East VIC 3145
Tel: (03) 9077 1789

Shanghai Taste on Urbanspoon

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