The Boy and I pay a visit to Sydney’s “little Shanghai” to try out the offerings at new kid on the block, New Shanghai. When I call Ashfield “little Shanghai” it really is! Every second restaurant has Shanghai in the name and is crammed filled with dumpling addicts like us. If you didn’t know you were in Sydney...well you’d think you were somewhere else...like Shanghai perhaps?
The following post will give you a good indication as to why I’ve called this blog “The Adventures of Miss Piggy”. It’s nothing to do with a Muppet – it’s to do with a girl whose eyes are bigger than her VERY big stomach. Miss Piggy. That’s me (although I also blame our over-ordering on our very nice waitress who wanted us to try everything...she kept suggesting things and we kept saying yes)!
Dinner begins with a pot of hot Jasmine Tea – like it does in most Chinese Restaurants. It gives us a change to peruse the HUGE menu and check out the dumpling ladies at work in their glass fronted booth. They kindly pose for a few photos – masks up of course so that they remain incognito!
We kick things off with a small serve (!) of New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (steamed mini pork buns $6.80 for a small serve) and a serve of Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings ($7.00). Both were really great – the vegie dumplings had a lovely filling of fresh Chinese leafy greens. Silly us though as we let the XLB sit a little too long – they should be eaten whilst piping hot so the soup is still hot and warming in the belly.
The deep fried pastry filled with white radish and ham ($8.80) comes coated in sesame seeds and looks as pretty as a picture. The pastry looks like it has been scored and this adds to the flakiness. I had one of these cold the following day for breakfast (we took MANY doggy bags home) and I have to say it was even better the next day! Seeing as we were indulging in pastry covered goodies, the shallot pancake ($4.80) could not be passed up. This is easily the best shallot pancake I've had - often they are oily and not very appetising, but the offering at New Shanghai was PERFECTION! The pastry was flaky, not oily and the filling was delish!
Because we're feeling adventurous and are egged on by our lovely waitress we order some items that normally wouldn't appear on our table...ever! Extreme dining (Miss Piggy style).
The Boy had his heart set on the intriguing sounding thousand layer pigs ear ($6.80) - pigs ear set in a almost aniseed flavour hard jelly - which was a really nice dish. The flavour of the jelly was wonderful and the textural element of the crunchy pigs egg worked well with the melt in the mouth jelly. The Shanghai-style deep fried fish soaked in herb, spice and dark soy sauce ($8.80) had quite a strong fishy flavour and although served cold it still had quite a crunch to it - this was another BIG hit with The Boy. I would have to say that deep fried tofu coated with salted egg yolk ($13.80) is definitely an acquired taste. The duck egg was came as a foam over the tofu and was quite grainy in texture. I know people who LOVE salted duck eggs but I found the flavour of this quite overpowering and the smell quite pungent. I wouldn't mind trying salted duck egg again however - in its "egg" form.
Are you full yet? Too bad as we still have FIVE main dishes to go. After talking with our waitress we thought the dishes would come out in smaller portion sizes (likea tasting menu) hence the slight over-ordering.
I am fan of anything "salt + pepper" so I of course LOVED the salt and pepper prawns ($18.80). I really like the dried shallot/chilli topping and the crunch noodles that salt + pepper dishes come on. The Boy was smitten with the Beijing style pork ribs ($13.80) - the sauce tasting almost like a sweet + sour sauce (these were a hit cold the next day too).
We couldn't resit ordering the Drunken Chicken ($8.80) - chicken soaked in Chinese wine with various "secret" herbs and spices. This is another dish that is served cold and it has such fresh and refreshing flavours - I felt very healthy eating this. We also tried the Garlic Eggplant ($10.80) - another great dish. The eggplant was tender, flavoursome (but not overpowered by garlic flavours) and not at all oily as some eggplant dishes can be (eggplant is just like a big sponge after all). I like this so much in fact that I've already consulted Mr Google for a recipe on how to make this at home. And no Chinese meal that involves dumplings or shallot pancakes is complete without chopped cucumber tossed with fresh garlic ($7.80) - I'm pleased to report the version of this I make at home tastes really similar.
Although we are both very full we active our dessert stomachs as the temptation of deep-fried ice cream ($5.60) is too much to resist. The Boy + I both agree that this was the BEST deep-fried ice cream we've ever had. EVER! The batter was so thick and almost tasted like a doughnut and the ice cream was super creamy. I'll be back just for this (oh, and the shallot pancake too of course)!
New Shanghai is at 273 Liverpool Road, Ashfield. Call them on 9797 7284.