After many reinventions of this corner shop space at Lemon Grove Shopping Centre, an outlet of Ashfield’s famed New Shanghai has taken up residence. Mistress and I find ourselves here for lunch one day before a spot of shopping. We add our names to the growing list of people waiting for tables and peel off a numbered ticket.
Whilst loitering around outside we get a good view of the dumpling preparation window at the doorway which is piled high with columns of bamboo steamer baskets. Although it’s no Din Tai Fung, it still makes for compelling viewing to watch the ladies’ nimble fingers rolling out rounds of dough, filling them with pork mince mixture and deftly enclosing them into dumplings. The funniest thing is the wearing of face-masks to convey hygiene – more often than not these are worn under the chin by the ladies as opposed to over their mouths and noses! This is completely understandable however, due to the heat and moisture circulating within the small, enclosed space.
The glass window of the dumpling preparation kitchen bears a laminated sign printed with “OPENING SPECIAL MENU PRICE”. When we are seated about 10 minutes later we do not receive a specials menu, nor are we told of a discount when we settle our bill so the sign leaves us confounded. Table service is minimal, which is expected of an economical eatery, but here sometimes borders on being blunt. We order two dishes (in Mandarin) and instead of the usual, “Anything else?” we are met with, “Is that all?” Luckily the food is good when it arrives.
We order an obligatory serve of Shanghainese soup dumplings, ‘xiao long bao’ (小籠包). The dumpling skins are thin and even all the way around, and the dumplings themselves are equally sized. Once popped, the dumplings contain ample meat juices inside to allow for satisfied slurping. When Mistress flags someone down to ask for saucers to hold the black vinegar, we are told to just pour the vinegar into our bowls. We have to hassle another two waitstaff before we receive the requested sauce dishes.
Our other dish is ‘Shanghainese new year’s cake stir-fried with XO sauce’ (XO醬炒上海年糕). The chewy and sticky glutinous rice ‘noodles’ are cooked to be nicely separated and are all coated with some of the spicy sauce. Threads of pork are tossed throughout, along with Chinese broccoli, ‘kai laan’ (芥蘭).
We have been here on other occasions and I can also recommend the flakily layered ‘Shallot Pancake’ (蔥油餅). Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos but, despite the service, I will be back again for the food so eventually there will be!
New Shanghai Chatswood
Shop 20, Lemon Grove Shopping Centre, 427-441 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9415 3536
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-8pm
LATEST UPDATE: New Shanghai has opened yet another outlet in Chatswood, at Chatswood Chase’s newly revamped ‘Dining Court’. The store has its own internal seating and looks out over the food court. The colour scheme and renovations are completely unlike its other outlets – check it out when you get a chance!