If there is one near constant fixture of cuisines the world over, it is the humble dumpling. From Polish Pierogi to Nepalese Momo, at every minute of every day, somebody somewhere is enjoying a dumpling.
I ventured recently to New Shanghai in Chatswood where they offer an unholy union between two of my favourite eating experiences, dumplings and degustations. Behold, the dumpling degustation!
We start with a trio of cold starters, a knot of shredded kelp dressed with spice and vinegar, batons of lightly pickled cucumber and a traditional favourite, drunken chicken. The three starters were a nice play on sweet and savoury, with the kelp having a rich umami flavour heightened with chilli and sesame. The degustation comes with matched wines, and a smart Clare Valley Riesling from Leo Buring was a tidy match for our starters.
Some mixed steamed dumplings were next with the mini pork bun and the mini crab meat and pork dumpling both having a deliciously silky broth that filled the mouth when eaten. The steamed vegetarian dumpling was not as flavoursome, but it’s hard to beat a good broth filled dumpling. All of the dumplings had a thin, almost translucent wrapper made by the three dumpling makers whose work you can observe through a large glass window in the restaurant.
Next up was the highlight of the meal for me, the shepherd’s purse and pork wonton, tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil and spice. The mixture of sesame butter, oil and spice created a rich, nutty flavoursome sauce that had me lifting the bowl and drinking every last drop. Not the most dignified thing to do, but the sauce was that good.
Next up were the pot stickers, pan fried pork bun and pork dumplings, with beautifully crisp, brown bottoms, also filled with a beautiful silky broth.
After a palate cleansing gelatinous shepherd’s purse, prawn and tofu soup we hit the main course. Soft hunks of pork belly braised overnight in sweet soy and deep fried chicken with a special garlic and chilli sauce. The chicken had a delicate, crunchy tissue like skin, and although we were full to bursting at this stage, we finished the lot.
We finished with two desserts, slow cooked white fungus with papaya soup (tastier than it sounds, believe me) and a vanilla pudding with strawberry, which was a little too sweet for my liking.
Overall it was a fantastic experience. The food was great and the wines were well matched. At $69 with 6 matched wines, the degustation is excellent value. If anything, there might have been too much food as we started to feel full by the second lot of dumplings.
Dishes were a little rushed coming out, and we didn’t have an opportunity to finish our glasses of wine before the next course came out. From start to finish, we were in the restaurant for an hour and a quarter. An extra fifteen minutes would have allowed sufficient time between courses. The service though was friendly and cheerful and the restaurant itself is an opulently decorated space which feels far removed from its shopping centre location.
We left the restaurant with that warm glow you get when you’ve had your fill of dumplings. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Jeremy Bowell dined as a guest of New Shanghai
Shop B-038, Chatswood Chase
Chatswood, NSW 2067
02 9412 3358
New Shanghai also has restaurants at a number of other locations. Check the website for details.