Sydneysiders have been able to sample the fabulous food and dumplings from New Shanghai for many years now, with multiple locations in that city including Bondi and Chatswood. There is even an overseas branch actually located in Shanghai. New Shanghai have ventured to Queensland and opened a new franchise recently in Brisbane city, choosing a busy location in the lower floor of Queen’s Plaza. We were very privileged to be invited recently to try out their menu.
The decor immediately places you in another world, old school pictures of Chinese ladies with umbrellas, red bunting, stone path flooring and even an old bicycle outside the restaurant, its as if you are actually eating in an alleyway in Shanghai. There is a large open window at the front of the restaurant where you can witness dumplings being freshly prepared.
We were met by David, one of the restaurant managers, who was very helpful and recommended a huge variety of dishes for us to try. Most of the dumplings come in larger sizes (ie 8-10 pieces) however as there were only two of us sampling a larger variety, we had fewer dumplings per serve.
We started with a large pot of white tea (usually available per cup only), which was absolutely gorgeous, and then took a deep breath in preparation for our feast.
We started with a cold dish of Drunken chicken, chicken soaked in Chinese wine, herbs and spices. This dish immediately brought to mind a massive similarity to Hainanese chicken which is of course found in Malaysia and has Chinese origins. This dish was salty, flavoursome and as it was cold, very fresh as a starter.
Our first set of dumplings was definitely the most enjoyed, Shepherd’s purse and pork wonton with peanut butter, red chilli oil and spices. The wontons were filled with pork and a green spinachy vegetable, the sauce was creamy with added colour and heat from the chilli oil, very moreish.
Pan fried pork buns came next, with a very thick skin which was quite chewy to get through, the pork inside was piping hot and moist. David provided us with an excellent chilli sauce to add to the soy that we were using to dip the buns into.
The dumpling I was most looking forward to were the Xiao Long Bao. I am by no means a Xiao Long Bao expert, having sampled them before at other Chinese restaurants in Brisbane only, but these had a thicker skin than most (which was a good thing for me, as I usually tear the skin and lose my soup). I found the soup was much less subtle and more flavoursome than others that I have tried. These are traditionally served with slices of ginger, which were notably absent at New Shanghai.
Finally, we had the pan fried Pork Dumplings, which ended up to be quite similar to the Pork buns, having a crusty thick bottom and containing moist pork meat.
Our first main dish was the Braised pork belly in sweet soy sauce. This dish was quite gluttonous, the pork belly was fatty and rich but soft and fell apart. Such an indulgence!
Deep fried prawn covered in salted egg yolk was David’s suggestion and one that we wouldn’t have picked for ourselves, so it was quite welcomed. The prawns were covered in a vibrantly red sauce that was of course heavily salted and tasted of egg yolk, so quite thick. We couldn’t eat much as it was quite rich, and of course we had a lot of other food to plough through, but took some home for lunch the next day!
Shredded beef stirfried with Peking sauce came with the most delightful little steamed buns and julienned cucumber to make a little sandwich with. We again utitilised some of the chilli sauce given to us to add extra zing.
After all this meat, I felt a vegetable dish was definitely called for, so when it came out I helped myself to a huge portion of Chinese broccoli stirfried with plenty of garlic. This was a dish that definitely opened up the sinuses and helped to cut through the meat.
We could barely move after all this food, so when David suggested dessert, we thought he must be kidding. Of course we had to try some though and selected the light option of Mini sticky rice balls in Chinese dessert rice wine soup. This was served very hot, and with subtle flavours paired with chewy rice balls, was the perfect end to our meal. Other desserts sound extremely interesting, such as the Slow cooked white fungus with papaya, and Steamed pumpkin and sticky rice cake.
We went on a Monday night and the place was bustling with diners and waiters rushing around. Friday and Saturday nights are extremely busy, David informs us, as are weekday lunchtimes, with the restaurant focussing on getting diners in and eating quality food as soon as possible. Theres no time for a slow relaxed lunch service, so some might find this and the line outdoors filled with waiting patrons a little offputting. By all means though, the wait is worth it, or try going on a Monday evening like we did, as the food is cheap and delicious. New Shanghai is a most welcome addition to Brisbane!
**DISCLAIMER: C and L were guests of New Shanghai for this meal**New Shanghai LG23 Queens Plaza 226 Queen Street Brisbane CBD Ph 07 3108 7652 Open 7 Days, Lunch and Dinner www.newshanghai.com.au