New Shanghai, Ashfield

Chinese res­taur­ants like to set their Lunar New Year off to a good start and New Shanghai in Ashfield did this by provid­ing their cus­tom­ers with a one-time vouch­er to redeem a free steam­er of xiao long bao with orders over $50.00. With the vouch­er in hand, N con­vinced D and me to vis­it with her and T. I always need con­vin­cing to eat at a Chinese res­taur­ant out­side of a work event.

N likes their Taro Milk Tea ($5.00), which is the palest lilac with a silky smooth tex­ture and a sweet and strong taro fla­vour.

Not being fans of taro, D and I try their Lychee Ice Blended Drink ($6.00), which is sur­pris­ingly dif­fer­ent from your run of the mill lychee blen­ded drinks with a more fra­grant lychee fla­vour.

These Stir Fried Clams with XO Sauce ($18.80) are one of two dishes N used to lure me to Ashfield. Those morsels of tender shell fish are so deli­cious I could inhale dish after dish! There wasn’t much heat to the XO sauce, though, which I appre­ci­ate in small quant­it­ies to give the dish an extra kick.

These Xiao Long Bao — Steamed Pork Dumplings ($9.20) are one of their sig­na­ture dishes. The soup and the pork had good fla­vour, but I prefer the thin­ner skins of the ones from Din Tai Fung.

Our second dump­lings are the Pork and Coriander Dumplings, Steamed ($10.00). These are packed with cori­ander fla­vour, leav­ing the pork only as the tender glue hold­ing the green specked innards togeth­er. This is not a dish for people averse to cori­ander! I’d have enjoyed it more if, again, the skins were thin­ner.

And for a change of pace, these are Pot Stickers — Pan Fried Pork Dumplings ($10.40).

These pot­stick­ers have skins that are so thick and doughy that the skin to pork ratio is skewed to almost 2:1 with no crispi­ness. Again, I find the thin­ner and cris­pi­er skin pot­stick­ers at Din Tai Fung more enjoy­able.

In this impress­ive clay pot is the Slow Braised Pork Belly with Sweetened Soy Sauce ($19.50). The sweetened soy sauce glaze was deli­cious and the pork belly was tender, although the fatty parts were too soft, turn­ing to an unpleas­ant mush in your mouth.

And veget­ables! No, these were not our token greens as this was the second dish that N used to lure me to Ashfield: Braised Eggplant with Garlic Sauce ($16.80). Here, the egg­plant is thinly battered in rice flour being doused in gar­lic sauce. These were deli­cious.

And finally, dessert. These are the Shanghai Red Bean Pancakes ($8.20)

I was expect­ing flat pan­cakes so these round rect­an­gu­lar pastries. Shape aside, this dessert wasn’t a hit, with the pastry being too oily and so del­ic­ate and flaky (in a bad way) as to fall apart. Past the flaky pastry, the doughy innards were half cooked and with the red bean, left a sweet and nutty, but oily, mushy mouth­feel that was com­pletely unpleas­ant.

The two dishes — the clams and egg­plant — N used to con­vince me to go to Ashfield were great, but they’re not unique to New Shanghai and with the overly thick skins on their dump­lings and mushy mouth­feel of their pork belly and pan­cakes, I’m in no rush to return.

New Shanghai is at 273 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield NSW 2131.