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New Shanghai Restaurant - Emporium Melbourne

Home > Melbourne > Dim Sum | Dumpling Bars | Food and Wine
by TheOnlyFiona (subscribe)
In real life, I do discuss food exactly like how I write in my food review articles. As always my food reviews are scored only on what I've tried and the service expected of that type of establishment.
Published March 21st 2015
Put your knowledge of Shanghainese cuisine to the test
New Shanghai is a Chinese eatery chain from Sydney. There are 3 pieces of information we already know from this sentence.

1. Unless it's a misnomer, it specialises in Shanghainese food. 'Chinese food' is a very, very, very vague term. Each province (and even some cities) have their own cuisine.

2. It's from Sydney. The chain has faced some discerning customers and lived to continue to Melbourne.

3. It has Shanghainese dumplings AKA Xiao Long Bao/Siu Loong Bau 小籠包! If you have ever had the pleasure of eating an authentic Shanghainese dumpling, you know there's a method to it.

Shanghainese dumpling from New Shanghai
Shanghainese dumpling from New Shanghai

WARNING: putting the whole Shanghainese dumpling into your mouth will result in burns! The method requires self-restraint. Take a small bite and be prepared to savour the smooth, fatty pork broth that flows out. The soup should not have discernible fat. You'll need all your willpower to stop yourself slurping all the soup in one go. Always leave some of it.

Next be prepared to delight in the soft pork filling. Encased in the soft pastry and bathed in the broth, the filling is steamed to perfection. It feels incomplete if you didn't save any of the soup.

Once I knew of New Shanghai's arrival, I became hopeful. I LOVE Shanghainese dumplings. From restaurants to food courts to cafés, I can't enough when I'm abroad. I've compared 3 different varieties. However I've had my fair share of awful experiences where the punchline has been someone telling me, 'what did you expect? We're in Australia'.

New Shanghai Emporium Melbourne
New Shanghai, Emporium Melbourne

I finally got up the courage to try New Shanghai. The Shanghainese dumpling or New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao as it is listed on the menu is as expected. Maybe a tiny bit more salty than I prefer. In all aspects I certify it as to standard even outstanding. Yet could I be nostalgic like the old Shanghai themed interior? It ticked off all my boxes but was it outstanding? Could it be only in the realm of okay and I was desperate to find something to label as fantastic?

Old style Chinese window
cicular Chinese window

red window
red window

Everyone whom I recommended New Shanghai to loved it. However this nagged at the back of my head. I have not had the opportunity to go to Shanghai. What I know to be the standards could be a localised version of it in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I did what I had to do to do. I called in an expert.

Old Shanghai poster
Old Shanghai poster, possibly a company advertisement

My expert has traveled to Shanghai on numerous occasions and has an extensive insight into the cuisine. Outside of a chef, restaurateur or Shanghai local, my expert is the next best thing. She is simply someone who knows good Shanghainese food.

Old Shanghai poster
Old Shanghai poster

I held my breath. My expert ate slowly. If it was bad, it would be a major loss of face. It would call into question my appreciation and understanding of Shanghainese dumplings. If passable, my expert would question every recommendation that I made for the next few years. Was it really that good?

Old Shanghai poster
Old Shanghai poster, possibly a beer advertisement

She approved! I launched into questions about whether the Pan fried pork dumplings should squirt out oil, as Shanghainese is said to be really oily. I'd just finished explaining how my complete hand and wrist where drenched when our next dish arrived. The pan fried pork bun or sheng qian bao (生煎包) is eaten with the same method as above. The slightly crunchy, soft pastry gives away to another delicious pork filling. The pan fried part is a dusty golden colour that gives a nice crunch.

Pan fried pork buns
Pan fried pork buns

The chow mien (thick noodles) or stir fried noodles are another worthwhile mention. Conversely, if you want to try something that is more Shanghainese, the smoked fish or xun yu (燻魚) is a good choice. It is marinated in various spices, fried and smoked. It has a very peculiar flavour. The ones at New Shanghai would suit first timers as the flavour is the same but the texture is a more like a fish bite than a whole fish.

chow mein
chow mein or stir fried thick noodles

Shanghainese smoked fish
Shanghainese smoked fish

New Shanghai produces a mouth-watering Shanghainese dumpling. This is all you need to know as you take in its old Shanghai theme. Follow my tips and introduce others to Shanghainese cuisine 101.
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When: Sat to Wed 11am – 7pm, Thurs & Fri 11am – 9pm
Phone: 9994 9386
Where: Shop 323, Third Floor, Emporium Melbourne
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