Good dumplings are hard to find and considering the considerable number of restaurants that have popped up over the last couple of years catering to dumpling and Shanghainese cuisine, you’d think there we would be spoilt for choice, but sadly there are only a handful that meet a certain level of expectation I have for this type of cuisine. Most recently, Shanghai Street has been more restaurant of choice but now I have discovered New Shanghai at Emporium.
Nestled in the corner of the Emporium’s third floor Cafe Court, New Shanghai is first of the chain to open in Melbourne with existing outlets already satisfying locals across New South Wales, Brisbane and Shanghai. One of the best things about New Shanghai is that you can watch the dumpling masters at work meaning that you know that what you are getting is freshly made and the restaurant has its own seating that is modern and clean. The menu has an extensive list of dumplings, but also a huge variety of noodles, rice dishes and Shanghai-style main dishes that are sure to warm the cockles of the heart.
The testament of a good Shanghainese restaurant is whether the dumplings are any good. A dumpling is not just a dumpling unless it has all the elements balanced. Getting the perfect balance between wrapping and filling is a fine art, and when there is an imbalance you just don’t get the same flavour or taste experience that you get when you eat a dumpling that gets all the elements right. So if I sound like a dumpling snob, there are reasons! I mean, who wants to have a dumpling that has too much dough and wrapping and not enough filling?
Speaking as a person who has sampled dumplings across Asia and here in my home town, a good Xiao Long Bao is one with a delicate skin, clear and not too fatty soup and a soft tender meat centre. And this is what I had at New Shanghai. These little morsels of delicious meaty soupiness were the perfect balance of what I would have expected of a good Xiao Long Bao. Getting this right is a surefire sign that the other dumplings on the menu are also going to be good, and they were.
The Shepards Purse and Pork wontons in peanut and chilli sauce were light and delicate, with a punch from the chilli and peanut sauce, whilst the New Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns were flavoursome and light given the perfect amount of dough used to make the buns.
If you want more than just dumplings and are a noodle lover like myself, then definitely make sure you get your hands on a Shanghai Fried Noodles. These luscious thick white noodles and stir fried with Asian vegies and meat in a dark soy sauce. Unlike a lot of place that make this dish, it wasn’t oily and they use the thicker white noodles which seem to have disappeared off a lot of menus around town and replaced with noodles that just don’t balance as well with the sauce.
New Shanghai also features a variety of main dishes, those popular in Shanghai cuisine. On our visit we sampled the Pork belly braised over night in sweet soy which was cooked perfectly and tasted brilliant. Salt and pepper soft shell crab was crispy and flavoursome and the Rainbow Beef which was deep fried shredded beef tossed in sweet and sour was also a tasty addition.
If you still have room for dessert, the menu features some traditional Chinese desserts such as Glutinous rice balls or if you are feeling like something different then the Mango Ice pudding was something that was just perfect to finish our meal.
The drinks menu is also extensive and features a range of speciality drinks such as Lychee Ice (this has to be one of my favourites on the menu) and a good range of Chinese tea (more than your standard Jasmine and Oolong).
I would highly recommend New Shanghai as a place to go if you want to sample good dumplings. It’s a high quality addition to a small fraternity of restaurants in melbourne that get dumplings right. Saying that, you can get a fantastic meal here beyond the dumplings and am looking forward to my next visit to taste something new off their menu.
New Shanghai is located on the 3rd Floor Cafe Court at Emporium Melbourne and open Centre hours. The restaurant takes bookings on (03) 9994 9386 and also does takeaway.
New Shanghai Shop 323, Level 3, 287 Lonsdale StMelbourne, VIC 3000