Those who know me in person know that I’ve been living in the south for some time now. Prior to that, I’ve lived in Ashfield for over eight years. I’m not Shanghainese myself (yes, Ashfield is essentialy little Shanghai) but boy, I’ve tried virtually every restaurant on Liverpool street and then some. It is here that the original New Shanghai first opened up, and remains to this day.
I really did enjoy New Shanghai in Ashfield, they had a great thing going until the Ashfield Taste of Shanghai came in and stole their thunder. That said, if the Chatswood version maintained the same level of quality as the original, then it will attract crowds for sure.
Disclaimer: I’m Still Hungry dined as a guest of New Shanghai, courtesy of Wasamedia. Opinions are however, my own.
Date Last Visited: 13/7/13
Address: 427-441 Victoria Avenue Chatswood, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): a congee for breakfast, whichever way you like it
There are actually two New Shanghais in Chatswood – one in Chase, and the other at Lemongrove Plaza. This review is based on the latter and references will be made to such.
Immediately, I notice some differences to the New Shanghai in Ashfield – there’s an open kitchen in the Chatswood version, as well as a more…traditional yet impeccable look. I like it, though I felt the hard chairs contrasted with the upmarket wood of the walls. If there were more solid wooden chairs, the look would be complete!
Several bloggers, yours truly included, were invited to try out something I haven’t had before - breakfast. I was a little dubious, as I wondered how well that would go down, but I was more curious than anything.
Their breakfast menu is extensive enough that if you order one of everything (which is almost what was actually done) you can get quite the variety. Let’s begin!
Also known as 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (thousand/century egg & lean meat congee), this is a dish that many Chinese people will be familiar with. It’s also my favourite type of congee. The interplay of the pungency (in a good sense!) of the egg, and the fragrant pork, submersed in a savoury rice broth is heaven to me.
I did very much like New Shanghai’s version. It pretty much hits the spot: the congee is smooth and goes down nicely, not too heavily salted, and the ingredient volumes decent. Really good value! if I would have it my way, I’d include a bit more egg, and have them sliced bigger. I’d also have the pork sliced as strips rather than cubes, though that’s a matter of personal taste.
A great start!
A variant of the above uses fish instead. New Shanghai did good by including this on the menu – as much as I love century egg, I know many who absolutely cannot stand that pungency. Fair enough – let’s get you some fish instead!
So it’s the same congee, with a topping change. The fish (perch, I believe) is very, very tender – you can split it with a single chopstick. Whether that’s to your liking is personal, I found it nice – it would be excellent for a sore throat.
This is a savoury take on what is normally a sweet dish. In Chinese it’s known as 豆腐脑 (jelly/soft tofu) and it’s usually flavoured with sugar or sweet syrup as an accompaniment to a savoury main dish. Shanghai food generally tends to invert this (the congees above have sweet versions too with different toppings). Though I come from a part of China that focuses on the sweet, I actually prefer the savoury.
In going with the savoury theme, this version has preserved radishes and seaweed to add a sour element and extra zing. Overall flavour? I’d say mainly sour with a soft texture only tofu provides. I enjoyed it immensely (and would order it again). Another dish that hits the spot!
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to eat one of these steamed pork buns. I have had them before though at the Ashfield store – they’re good. There’s ample savoury pork “soup” within the buns so that they’re not dry. I’ve always felt there’s a little too much flour used for the casing, though. I wonder what the Chatswood version tastes like…
Similar in design is the vegetarian bun.
Of this one I did manage to get an inside shot – their veggie buns are quite good actually; they’re full of delicious greens which are sure to satisfy any vegetarian.
Known as 花卷, this is a roll that’s meant to be served as a carb supplement to a main dish. I didn’t have any myself as I wasn’t interested on loading up on carbs that have no flavour. These rolls aren’t designed to deliver flavour, just a slightly chivy roll – the equivalent of bread for Chinese meals.
These steamed rolls are soft and plushy, intended for dipping into condensed milk (not in this picture). As you can imagine, an insanely guilty sugar trip that’s for sure! Be sure to share it
But OF COURSE there was going to be a fried version, no? We’re naturally programmed to love fried stuff more, and BOY is this one so much better than the steamed one. If you’re going to get this, you may as well go all hog and get the fried version.
In all honesty though, not a breakfast choice I would take simply due to the health concerns…
…which are further exacerbated by this next dish! The glutinous rice surrounds lots and lots of plain white sugar, which is then rounded out by a filling of what is known as “fried doughnut” or 油条. I actually have no idea why it’s called a doughnut – there is very little resemblance. In any case, this is quite unhealthy, and is unfortunately nowhere near worth the taste for me to recommend it. The glutinous rice, while nice texturally, has no flavour, and the plain sugar was somewhat tacky in trying to give it flavour. Condensed milk may have worked better.
There is also a savoury version which has pork floss instead of sugar. It tastes a little better, which is really just a result of the salty floss. Otherwise, it retains the same characteristics as the sweet version. I didn’t like this one very much either – too much mushy carbs for little flavour and way too many calories.
Finally, we arrive at the selection of pancakes that are part of the breakfast menu – there are three variations, all savoury. The pork floss version is nice and wholesome, with plenty of flavour imparted by both the thick soy sauce & salty floss. Its downside? Too dry – floss is very prone to this.
A second option includes cheese in said pancakes instead – the cheese makes it more palatable, but the texture of the cheese closely resembles those of the pancakes. The result of this is that I felt like I was eating very chewy pancakes throughout. An interesting sensation!
Wow, they love putting fried doughnut in everything! I don’t think this last one worked very well – fried stuff on…fried stuff. *tugs shirt worriedly*.
The verdict on New Shanghai? The food is good where it’s not oily – when it’s oily, it’s quite off putting. For breakfast, I’d stick to the healthier options – they taste better to me anyway!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: congees are very nice, great value if you go with a group (can get variety), great buns if quality is similar to Ashfield store (and from the looks of it, it is!)
Not so Awesome: the oily stuff is a bad, bad idea for breakfast; oily dishes don’t justify their calories with their flavour