When I first tried Shanghai Dumplings I was baffled at how they managed to get the soup inside the dumpling skins. Did they inject it in? Did it miraculously get sucked in via some process of osmosis in the steaming process? It never occurred to me that the soup was gelatinised and the ‘soup jelly’ melted while the dumplings were being steamed thus filling the dumpling with soup. One day I will try make these – in the meantime I have found the place to go for my fix: New Shanghai in Chatswood.
There are two restaurants – the suburb does, after all, have the fond nickname of the ‘People’s Republic of Chatswood’ – but I much prefer the decor of the Chatswood Chase store. When you step in, you are transported to little Shanghai, with the ‘street sellers’ making the dumplings in a stall to the left. I watched the cooks in envy – their dexterity in making one dumpling after the another was amazing.
The signature dish is the Xiao Long Bao (i.e. Shanghai steamed pork dumpling). This is the soup-filled dumping that I mentioned above. There is a technique to eating these as biting directly into one is likely to scorch the tastebuds off your tongue. First you dip the dumpling into the dipping sauce (a mix of soy and vinegar) and then place it in your spoon. Using the chopsticks, make a hole in the bottom of the dumpling and allow the soup to spill out into the spoon. Allow it to cool slightly (or in my case blow on it) before spooning it into your mouth. Delicious!
My favourite dish here is the pan-fried pork bun – probably because I love bread. Similar to the Xiao Long Bao, this is a bready dumpling that is also filled with soup. The same technique for eating applies. As you can probably imagine if you leave these too long, the bread soaks up the soup. Yum!
We also ordered prawn and pork short soup as my lunch companion loves wontons. This was nice and the broth was tasty. Though since I often make wontons at home I am find that it is rare for me to be impressed with the store bought variety – that said, my friend was impressed.
Lastly, we had spinach stir-fried in garlic. I don’t think you can go wrong with stir-frying leafy vegetables in garlic. These were a little oily – but I think this was standard for eating out. It was a lovely accompaniment for our other dishes.
Be prepared, should you choose to visit, as inevitably if you are there around meal time you will need to wait for a table. Take a number and wait until it is called. Though I generally get disgruntled having to queue for anything, I think it is definitely worth the wait. Reader, I ask you: where or what are you willing to wait in line for?New Shanghai
Shop B-038, Chatswood Chase
Chatswood, NSW 2067
+61 2 9412 3358