Taste of Shanghai, Ashfield

Saturday, February 14, 2015

There's something so enjoyable about eating dumplings. Here are some of the reasons I think why.
  1. Dumplings are small, so you can eat a lot of them.
  2. They have a very high filling to wrapper ratio, so when you eat a lot they don't feel as heavy as something wrapped in thicker bread or rice.
  3. Dumplings come in so many different varieties and flavours that it's quite impossible to find a variety that you don't like. 
  4. They're cute!
  5. You can eat them easily without embarrassing yourself or causing a mess (I'm looking at you, tacos)
...And the list goes on.

I've blogged about New Shanghai before, but just across the road from it sits Taste of Shanghai, which boasts queues that are just as long as it's competitor. The interior is not as modern or attractive as New Shanghai, but the menus are not dissimilar and dishes range from the cheap-and-cheerful to high $20, even higher if you'd like to have made-to-order mud crab. Featured on the menu aren't just the ubiquitous Shanghainese dumplings and noodles, but other dishes that evoke curiosity like stir-fried bean starch, fried bread with condensed milk and deep-fried radish pastries. Be warned that the wait can be as long as over half an hour on weekends. 

Xiao Long Bao ($9.80, 8 pcs)

Xiao long bao are sturdy parcels are full of the mandatory hot broth and a good amount of tasty pink pork. The pastry is thick enough so that you don't have to worry about ending up with a burst dumpling in the bamboo basket, and it's satisfying pop one in your spoon and suck out the broth, or just pop the whole morsel in your mouth and gobble it all up in one go. 

Shredded pork and vegetable stir fried noodles ($10.80)

Slippery, glossy, thick noodles slathered in a sauce that seems to be both savoury and sweet at the same time are tossed with shredded pork and Chinese greens. The chewy, saucy noodles are insanely addictive. There isn't too much sauce which means that the noodles aren't too salty, although they are a little bit oily.  

Pan-fried pork buns ($9.80)

Mum jokingly says that she could eat these all day. I know she can't because they get pretty filling after the fourth or fifth one. That aside, these are just as good as, if not better than, the xiao long bao. The buns are a warm brown on the bottom and sprinkled with sesame; they're scalding when they arrive on the table. We wait a few minutes before we can no longer contain ourselves and snatch one each to perch on our spoons and blow on. Even then, the soup is close to burning the tongue (lesson learnt: these are some extremely hot buns). But when it's cool enough to bite into, the combination of chunky, yielding pork, fluffy, crispy bun and steaming, full-flavoured soup is a winning one. You sigh in satisfaction, take another bite, and then before you know it it's all gone. Then you reach for another. These are probably my favourite of the night. 

Yummy yummy buns!

Seafood Vermicelli Hot Pot

We don't normally order hot pots so I was curious to see what this vermicelli hot pot would be like. The vermicelli had absorbed all the lovely seafood flavours, the most pungent of which was the wonderful, unami taste of dried scallop (oh, how I love that flavour!). But it was not all seafood - strips of crunchy cabbage provided some much needed greenery to the flavoursome, slightly salty hot pot. There was not shortage of scallops, white fish and prawns. 

Stir Fried Garlic Snow Pea Sprouts

Snow pea sprouts is one of my favourite vegetable dishes. These young sprouts are stir-fried to a brilliant green with a sparse amount of bean sprouts and slithers of what seems to be shimeji mushroom. The sprouts are only lightly cooked so that they retain their bite; I find extremely joy in drawing them out of the green pile with my chopsticks so that they pull out like noodles. 

Beef Stir Fried Rice Noodles

I'm used to the Cantonese version of these stir-fried rice noodles, which are typically cooked in a deeper brown sauce with lots of shallots and bean sprouts. There weren't so many shallots in this version, but instead larger slices of white onion among a tumble of shiny, slippery rice noodles. Like the other noodles, these weren't too salty, but still quite oily. 

Seating can be cramped at times, and more often than not you'll have to share a table on a busy night. Tea is complimentary, and dishes took as little as 10 minutes (for the faster-cooking dumplings) to as long as 40 minutes to arrive on the night we visited. Service can be a bit hit and miss, but prices are cheap and we got a good feed for the price we paid. Many dumpling dishes are under $10 and stir-fried noodle dishes are generous in size; the pan-fried pork buns alone are reason enough to come and brave the at-times unpleasant service. There are other branches of the Taste of Shanghai chain in Eastwood and the city which, from what I've heard, are fitted out more nicely than the Ashfield restaurant, and the Shanghai Stories restaurant in Chatswood, run by the same parent group, is a more upmarket choice for authentic Shanghainese fare.


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  1. Agreed. Panfried pork buns are my favourite too!

  2. The Chatswood branch is the best one! It's called Shanghai Stories and the chef is super awesome. Try the combo hotpot next time, mmmm delish! The service is always super nice as well, something that the World Square branch or the hurstville branch cannot attest to.
    Although the Ashfield branch is the oldest and original branch~

  3. Agreed, we've been to the chatswood branch of Shanghai Stories too and it's very good! The restaurant is a bit more upmarket and both the service and food are top-notch :)