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Downing dumplings at New Shanghai like no one's watching


By: Aimee Chanthadavong 

OWWW! There go my tastebuds. Just when I thought I could get away with eating pan-fried pork buns unscathed at New Shanghai in Ashfield, the steaming hot juices from these fresh, fluffy buns with crispy bases have got me again. This time I was trying to be extra cautious, too.  Thinking I could take a small bite in the top to create a little steam escape, but these juicy morsels win again. I could’ve waited a bit, but they were calling to be devoured. These buns should come with some serious warning signs like, “Scalding hot: eat at your own risk”. But this is but one of the painful sacrifices I’m unashamedly willing to make for delicious handmade dumplings.

Equally dangerous (and delicious) are the delicately packaged xiao long baos that arrive neatly placed in a bamboo steamer. It’s so hot that when the lid of the steamer comes off, it’s followed by whiffs of steam. You’d think having just suffered the wrath of the pan-fried pork buns that I would’ve learned my lesson to wait patiently for the xiao long baos to cool, but why eat cold dumplings when you can eat them fresh?

Just when I thought I was in safe territory, I found out – the hard way – the restaurant’s plump deep-fried pork and chive dumplings are equally juicy and scorching. My attempt at eating these dumplings becomes this synchronised motion of biting, blowing and sucking, which I’m sure makes for some very appealing facial expressions.    

While I continue to self-inflict suffering on my remaining taste buds with a plate of Shanghai stir-fried noodles and some pillowy steamed buns stuffed with Peking pork stir fry, I peer through the kitchen’s glass window into the dumpling station and find myself hypnotised by the movements of the uniformed staff. They’re meticulously pleating dumpling wrappers and filling them so effortlessly and quickly with pork mince, before getting them cooked and out onto tables so diners like me can stuff our faces silly.

But speediness isn’t just in the kitchen. At New Shanghai, it’s consistent with the waitstaff too. Those newly seated are hastily asked for their orders. Meanwhile, empty tables are swiftly cleared to seat the growing hoard of people who wait eagerly outside for their ticket numbers to be called. 

“NUMBER 35! 35!”

Cherry On Top

You need to order… pan-fried pork buns that are soft and chewy on top, steaming hot and juicy in the centre, and super crispy on the bottom. 

It’s perfect for… a bang-for-buck feast during inflationary times. 
Look out for… long queues, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, but don’t be discouraged because the quick service gets tables turnaround pretty quickly.

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