We decided to be sheep for today and line up behind the crowd outside Ashfield’s New Shanghai because as logic would have it, crowd equals good food. If you don’t already know, Ashfield is a bit of a hot spot for Shanghainese cuisine. The choices can be a bit overwhelming as every restaurant seems about as busy as the next, and there are quite a few to choose from – it doesn’t help that they are all in close vicinity of each other.
If you don’t know Shanghainese food for their Xialongbaos, then you’ve been missing out. These mini-pork buns, aside from being a total amusement when watching them being made, are a surprisingly generous serving of pork with a tasty soup broth, enveloped inside a delicate bun. Eaten with vinegar and soy sauce, these are actually one of my favourite foods! I remember when I first heard that these things were actually called ‘buns’ I was thoroughly confused because they had always looked like dumplings to me. Anyways, there’s also a technique to eat these so you don’t end up shooting piping-hot soup broth into the back of your throat. Be warned, do not attempt to throw the whole thing in your mouth no matter how tempted you are to get a taste. You will get burnt.
“New Shanghai Combination Stir-fried in Hot and Spicy Paste in Noodle Soup” - wow that name is a mouthful. Anyways, another thing that is particular to Shanghainese food aside from their amazing array of dim sim, is their spicy noodle soups. So good! Ever since I found out they had a knack for this sort of thing, it has been a staple order at Shanghainese restaurants. The one here wasn’t actually that spicy, a fact I could have probably told from the translucent soup.
We always order these when we eat Shanghainese food, and I think many people do because it is commonly the mascot in photo evidence proving that you have eaten Shanghainese cuisine. I have to be honest and say that these were the ugliest looking bunch I have ever come across, so I didn’t get to snap my Kodak moment – why are there only seeds on the one right in the middle? Drowned in a spoon of vinegar, I managed to forget about it’s appearance and appreciate it for it’s great personality.
Okay so this rice-cake was by far the most disappointing dish of the day. As soon as it arrived on the table I was thinking 4/10 for presentation. It actually was all lop-sided on the plate and there were barely any colour in it. Overall a very soft and mushy dish. The grapefruit drink, I ordered because I was obviously in a very vulnerable place and making myself subject to a lot of “sheep following” that day; purely because there was a hand-written sign on the front door saying “Grapefruit drink is finally back!” Obviously, I had to try it. Not bad at all.
This is actually the most golden shallot pancake I have ever come across! It was definitely very crunchy, but unfortunately does not compare to the one that we have at Chinatown (more about that next time). You can definitely see all the layers between the pancake in the photo though, so that is what gives it it’s flakey texture.
This is a “silver thread roll” – basically it is a very soft bun that is subtly sweet, deep-fried before being served with a generous amount of condensed milk. Just looking at it makes me feel guilty. Silver thread roll tastes just like a mantou but is a traditional dish of Beijing cuisine. If you look closely you will notice that the bun is made up by “threads” of dough, as opposed to the layers in a mantou. Either can be used for this dish, but today my grandma decided to be cray and order this one.
I have to admit that the food here didn’t stand out for me, so I am confused about the massive line we had to wait through. I mean I actually make it a habit of mine to try out all the different Shanghainese places, so in comparison this one was pretty mediocre. Shang food is pretty amazing regardless, so you’ll be in for a decent meal. I am currently in the process of creating propaganda for my family so that they will decide to go Shanghai for our Asia trip early next year. Fingers crossed that this will work!
I want to make a joke about how I need to go an exercise now, but really I am sitting in bed and trying to keep my toes from falling off. Fat life.
New Shanghai, Ashfield
273 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield, NSW 2131
Phone: +61 2 9797 7284