I wonder what area of Sydney has the highest turnover of new restaurants? The CBD of course, and potentially somewhere like Newtown as well. Chatswood would definitely be in the running. While there are the old favourites that have been there for a million years, there’s a few areas where you’ll see a new restaurant once a year. That’s the only explanation for the fact that K and I have lived in that Mid-North Shore area for four years and still haven’t been to every restaurant in Chatswood!
One of these restaurants is Shanghai Dumpling, a second branch of the original Ashfield store. I’m not sure when they opened up but it must be recent as everything is still gleaming with that newly renovated shininess. One of the highlights here as you walk past is seeing the dumplings made in real time. Two people stand in the window with differen dumpling fillings in front of them and quickly and deftly fold each dumpling into its skin.
It’s very busy on the weekend that we visit for lunch, and we waited a little while for a table. This wait was further extended as we waited for the waitress to come and take our order, and then again for the food to come out. In hindsight, the amount of waiting we did was probably standard for most restaurants, however as we were expecting the speedy surly service of other Chinese restaurants in this price range, it seemed to take a lot longer! It did make us wonder how they were making ends meet when they’re charging the same low prices but not turning over as many tables as other similar restaurants.
Though dumplings are their specialty, K wanted to test them on one of the noodle dishes on the menu – stir fried noodles with five spicy beef. While the beef was excellent (I love this type of cold roasted beef), the noodles were less impressive. They were definitely overcooked, and it seemed as though rather than strictly stir-frying them, they had been first blanched in water before being slathered with a mix of Maggi seasoning and sesame oil. They were a bit over-cooked and a bit gloopy – quite disappointing.
The dumplings made up for the disappointment of the noodles though! We ordered a half serve each of two of the daily specials – chive & prawn, and Chinese cabbage & pork. Shanghai Dumpling rotates the variety of dumplings flavours every day, so these two may not be available on the day you attend! If you do come across the chive & prawn combination though, I highly recommend ordering it as I’ve never tasted prawn dumplings of this quality – not even at New Shanghai or Din Tai Fung! The dumpling was absolutely stuffed with fresh, firm prawn meat flavoured lightly with fresh chives. The dumpling skin was thin and perfectly cooked without that stickiness or mushiness that can often happen.
In the future, I wouldn’t bother ordering anything other than dumplings off the menu at Shanghai Dumpling. The noodles are subpar, so the dry steamed dumplings are the way to go. I’d possibly be interested in ordering the dumplings in soup next time as well…plus, apparently they offer frozen dumplings to take home which I’m definitely tempted by!