Other than Sushi, my second life passion is Shanghai Food. Having gone to cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Toronto, it was fairly apparent that Brisbane was quite lacking in its offering of authentic Shanghai Cuisine. It may be due to this, that there New Shanghai very popular, having to line up almost every time I go there.
It seems that there is a trend for a lot of the new Chinese Restaurants to have an 'outdoors indoors' look, where they set the place out like its a winding alleyway with cobbled steps, like 8 Street and like Little Red Dumpling. I dont mind it, but I would prefer to eat in a more well lit kind of environment.
Upon sitting down, the menu is available for each person as a place mat.
Table water is also provided as a priority.
The Hot and Sour Soup is my usual starting point. The soup itself isnt very hot or sour, but instead the end user is supposed to add their own vinegar and pepper to their liking. Many people are unaware of this, and end up questioning why the soup is not hot or sour enough.
The Shanghai noodles were quite disappointing to be honest. The portion in itself was small, and the meat and vegetables were really quite minimal. Other than the soy sauce in the noodles, there wasn't much flavour.
Xiao Long Bao is what I use to gauge the quality of a Shanghai Restaurant. This can be broken into three parts, the skin, the soup and the filling.
The skin was a decent thickness, I have had thinner at Din Tai Fung (the ultimate dumpling destination), and the top was scrunched up to make it quite hard. But still, much better than the other offerings in Brisbane. Soup was in ample quality, and had a strong meaty and gingery taste to it. The meet itself was finely minced and had that gingery soup in it.
The pan fried pork buns are New Shanghai's brand name dish. Indeed it is one of the best pan fried pork dumplings in Brisbane. The fillings and soup are the same as Xiao Long Bao, a friend mentioned she found it unoriginal for that reason and suggested that they should make slight differences in the two. Personally though, I could eat the Xiao Long Bao and pan fried pork dumplings every day for the rest of my life. The outside was crispy on the bottom, and soft and squishy on the top.
I found the deep fried radish pastries to be slightly harder and not as flaky as other ones I've had at a number of yum cha places. Otherwise, the filling was piping hot and had a fairly decent amount of radish.
One of my personal favourites when it comes to New Shanghai, is the Vegetable and Pork Wanton. Even within the classification of Wanton, there are different classifications between the types depending on their origin. Traditionally speaking, the wanton from the northern areas in China, i.e. Beijing and Shanghai etc, usually have pork (and occasionally chicken), and vegetables wrapped in them. Southern areas such as Guangdong and Hong Kong wrap things like prawn, fungi and bamboo shoots within a meat paste. The Wantons in New Shanghai were of the former category. They were a decent size, being significantly larger than the ones offered in other shops. The soup was light and also very enjoyable.
The fillings in the pan fried dumplings are the same as Xiao Long Bao, as well as Pan Fried Buns. I didnt actually enjoy it as much, because the soup fell out of the dumplings due to the cracks in the folds. Other than that, I do really enjoy the crispy bottom. I would think the skin was a bit thick too though.
This is the stir fried shredded pork rice cake. What is rice cake you ask? It's a flavourless 'cake' made of glutinous rice that has been ground into powder, mixed with water to become a dough, and then steamed. It usually has a chewy springy kind of texture. The rice cake as nice and chewy in this instance, and the pork was also nice. The portion was a bit small though.
In relation to the Crispy Skin Chicken with Noodles, I dont really have much to say about it other than I like that they separated the chicken from the soup. Other than that, the taste and portion sizes is pretty much the same generic crispy skin chicken noodle you'd find at any other restaurant.
The Braised Dried Bean Curd was better than my expectations, although I do not usually like cold dishes, it was refreshing and the sauce was very strong. The bean curd had a nice rough texture which was different to the usual smoothness.
I was surprised that combination fried rice was offered, although its a generic dish originated in the south of China (i.e. not Shanghai), it was executed quite well, despite being a bit on the oily side.
I was quite skeptical when my friend suggested we also order the Rainbow Beef. It sounded too colourful for my liking. However what was served to us was not in fact rainbow. It was a sort of deep fried beef strips in sweet and sour sauce with some chilies in it. It was surprisingly very nice.
Price Range: $15 - $20 per person
Service: 5/10 (waiters are busy and tend to ignore patrons...)