To say I was excited when a group of us head OTB for the New Shanghai wine & dumpling dinner is an understatement. We all ended up skipping the wine – it was a Monday evening and we were all due to go back to work the next day. But unlike a few of my very good friends, I’m always one to go for the food over wine anyway.
First up is the Mixed Cold Dish Starter. This is a plate of shredded kelp mixed with spice and vinegar dressing; chopped cucumber tossed with fresh garlic; and drunken chicken – chicken soaked in Chinese wine with herb and spice. The cucumber is lovely and refreshing. I’m not really a huge fan of the kelp, but the drunken chicken is delicious and tender.
I’m very eager when the steamed dumplings arrive. They’re steaming (no pun intended) hot. The New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao are delicious but don’t quite live up to Din Tai Fung’s. Also resting in the bamboo steamer are a steamed mini crab meat and pork dumpling and a steamed vegetarian dumpling. Both are delicate and satisfying.
These wontons are to die for. Yes, I know it’s a cliché. But I seriously think I’m in love with them. It’s my absolute favourite dish of the evening. The Shepherd’s purse and pork wontons are tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil and spices. There’s also a peanutty flavour that comes through. The soupy combination of sesame, chilli and peanut is friggin’ glorious and the cucumber slivers add a bit of freshness as well. I could eat this all day, every day.
The pan-fried dumplings are plated with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds. The New Shanghai pan fried pork bun has a wonderful crisp base. In the middle, a star-shaped spring onion pancake makes for a pretty centrepiece. The pan fried pork dumpling is also delicious – though perhaps the skin is a tad on the thick side.
The Shepherd’s purse, prawn and tofu soup is a bit subdued in terms of flavour, but the texture of the tiny tofu cubes is silky and smooth. I’d give this one a miss if you’ve got limited stomach space and you’re holding out for the oh-so-delicious pork belly that’s coming up next.
The pork belly is braised overnight in sweet soy sauce. There’s also deep fried chicken with special garlic and chilli sauce. And in the middle is a little mound of rice, which I barely even touch. At this point we’re already struggling, but I’m telling you now to save yourself for the pork belly. It’s very, very tasty. The crispy skin on the chicken is also lovely.
All that’s left now is the slow cooked white fungus with papaya soup. It’s unfortunately a bit of a let-down, but the good news is I’m too full to even care. White fungus isn’t really to my taste, but some may enjoy it.
The degustation will set you back 45 bucks, but if you opt for the matching wines it’s $65. So overall it’s pretty good value. While some of the dishes are somewhat superfluous, it’s the perfect opportunity to try new dishes that you would normally overlook on the menu.
New Shanghai at Chatswood Chase
Lower Ground, 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood