There’s this super odd row of restaurants on Liverpool Road in Ashfield where separate establishments named “New Shanghai Night”, “New Shanghai”, and “Shanghai Night” are lined up one after another. The subject of our review today is Shanghai Night, the Westernmost of the three.
The Shanghai Spicy Noodle Soup ($12.80) was good. It was quite a large serving for the price, and with plenty of meat and flavourful soup. Not too spicy. Not much else to say apart from a recommend.
The Si-Chuan Dry Wonton with Cucumber and Chilli Oil ($10.80) looked vastly different to the menu photo, but tasted pretty good. The wontons were plenty meaty, however my partner raised some concerns about the state of the peanut butter, which I did chose not to try.
The Steam Shanghai Style Mini Pork Bun ($8.80) were not the best. The most disappointing thing about them was the fact that they were mostly broken. In fact, only 2 out of the 8 were received intact, a feat that I can easily manage with a box of frozen xiao long bao at home.
THOUGHTS: With so many competitors in the Shanghai food space within a one metre radius, I don’t think I will be going back to this particular restaurant any time soon.
Shanghai Night 275 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield NSW 2131 (02) 9798 8437
Last year we went to the Ramadan night markets in Lakemba just down the road from where we live twice, and I got gastroenteritis twice. This year I did not wish to be unwell, and so we skipped the night markets for a sit down meal in one of Sydney’s other Muslim centres.
We started with besip lagman ($18), flat noodles stir fried with diced meat, cabbage and red peppers. We enjoyed these noodles, with its tangy tomato sauce base, good umami flavour, and nicely jin dao noodles. The “meat” topping was stated at the top of the menu as a mixture of lamb and beef, and I wonder if it would have been less suspicious to in the description of each item rather than just at the top of the menu.
The toho qordah (small: $20), descriped as special chilli chicken braised with potatoes, red peppers, and shallots, complemented with flat noodles was unfortunately almost exactly the same thing as the besip lagman, except for the addition of potatoes and the substitution of chicken. Again a tomatoey base, but with a tiny amount of spice this time, and a little bit more oily. I’m not usually a big fan of chopped up chicken drumsticks, but I did not mind it in this case as there were not really any broken bone fragments for me to spit out. My partner, potato-fan as she is, was not too sad at the sameiness of this dish, though ultimately I think we would’ve liked to try something else instead.
The kawap lamb skewers ($4.50 each) were really quite good. Super tender, but not fatty at all. No significant unwanted lambiness to them. Quite good, though I wonder if they would’ve been better with some chilli (I have no idea if this would take it away from being traditional Uyghur cuisine).
OVERALL THOUGHTS. Pretty good. Not expensive. Great lamb. I don’t know why the guys on the table next to us were so surprised that they didn’t serve alcohol.
Slow cooked braised beef tenderloin in a special chili sauce ($14.80) – There was much meat, which was good, but much of the meat was quite fatty. The flavour was slightly umami and slightly ma la, but ultimately I didn’t feel like these noodles were anything to write home about.
Succulent chicken feet with chili garlic toppings ($6.80) – The taste of these with fresh chili was good, but sadly the paws were skinny and not very meaty.
COMMENTS – Would I come back? I don’t know that I would. There’s so much variety in Burwood that unless a place is very very good it tends to be a one time visit.
Our family has been a big fan of the Taste of Shanghai chain of restaurants since the mid 2000s, frequenting the Eastwood store back when we had family living in Epping. My mother has in fact been a VIP member of Taste of Shanghai for around the last decade, and I have in turn enjoyed dining at Taste of Shanghai with my partner and her family (who have been also going independently for a long time).
I was surprised, therefore, to be disappointed by the delivery service (via UberEats) from Lilong by Taste of Shanghai. I found the xiaolongbao, the shenjiang bao, and the pan-fried dumplings to be universally disappointing. At least part of it has to be due to the travel time (approx 10 minutes from Hurstville to Kogarah), but I do think that if a food is unable to be satisfactorily delivered then it shouldn’t be delivered at all.
Thumbs down. Possibly thumbs up if eaten in person, but until then we will not know.
UPDATE – November 2020
Despite my negative review above, and despite my strong preference to the contrary, my partner decided that she wanted to go to Lilong to eat in person. What we found was better – but not much better.
Unfortunately the first complaint needs to go to the cleanliness of the operation. Pictured above is the state of the booth seat that the diners sit on. It doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned in recent memory. The crockery we received was also dirty – the cups had a black sediment in them, as well as stains that could easily be rubbed off by hand. This is absolutely not good enough.
We started with the braised duck in special soy sauce ($12.80). This is some of the worst duck we’ve had in a while. The flesh was very tough, seemingly overcooked. The flavour was straight soy sauce flavour, with no interesting components. The salad that they served on the side looked like they came straight out of a Woolworths bag – mostly baby spinach, some shredded carrot, and other basic greenery.
The spicy beef brisket noodle soup ($12.80) was not special. I thought that the soup was very watery and in fact had a bit of a tap water taste. We ended up only finishing the toppings, leaving a lot of the boring noodles to spare. Not a specialty of theirs at all.
The Shanghai Turnip Croissant ($10.89) was actually the reason we came to Lilong by Taste of Shanghai at all. My partner had a big craving for these, but was disappointed. I personally didn’t mind – I thought the pastry was light and fluffy, and the ham filling inside was tasty, but not enough to justify the 30 minute drive.
The pan-fried pork buns (sheng jian bao) (生煎包 – $12) is one of Taste of Shanghai’s top specialties. The shengjianbao today were mostly bald and naked – I wonder if there is some kind of global black sesame seed shortage going on. At the very least the bao were still excellent. The filling is still the same, with plenty of fresh hot soup bursting out with each bite. The bottoms were perfectly fried to a crisp. Overall, eating the sheng jian bao at the restaurant was much, much better than getting them delivered.
If the sheng jian bao was one of the stars of the meal, the other would be the Wontons in Red Chilli Oil Sauce ($12.80). This is something that we almost always get when we eat at Taste of Shanghai, and one of the dishes I remember loving from my childhood. The filling is housemade pork and chive. The wonton skins are quite springy but not too undercooked. The red chilli oil sauce is, as always, delicious. I personally like to eat the wontons with a spoon in order to get a good amount of red sauce with every mouthful. This is an oft-imitated dish (for example by Dumpling Queen in Eastgardens), but only Taste of Shanghai seems to be able to execute it perfectly.
Overall I would say that dining at Lilong by Taste of Shanghai was better in person, however there are still a lot of misses on the menu. Stick with what they do best, however, and you will not go wrong – unless you are disgusted by the environment and general uncleanliness.
Tucked away on Trelawney St on the Chinese side of Eastwood is Hungry Paulie, purveyor or fine Taiwanese breakfast foods.
The Traditional Egg Pancake with Fried Bread Stick (P15 台式蛋饼包油条 – $9.50) is similar to but not quite the same as the jianbing guozi (煎饼馃子) that I had in my childhood. Thin pancakes with a layer of egg omlette are wrapped around freshly fried yóutiáo, with a bit of very light soy flavoured dressing on top. The yóutiáo at Hungry Paulie are seriously good and well worth a mention, each hand-prepared on site from scratch by artisans working behind a glass window. I can recommend this.
My partner was a big fan of the Black Pepper Pork Pastry with Shallots (Paulie Pie) (P1 胡椒饼 – $6.50), which was essentially a large spherical pie with a huge amount of peppery beef steak filling. There is little in common between this meat pie and the classic Australian meat pie. The shape is almost spherical, with a more dough-reinforced base at the bottom and minimal crust up top. The filing is steak-dominated, with big chunks of chewable meat in a black-pepper rich semi-solid gravy. It was pretty good, and at $6.50 good value and worth a try.
My partner, keen on a dessert dish, ordered the hot Roasted Peanut Rice Milk (D2 – 花生米浆 – $4) This wasn’t quite what she expected. Rather than being a dessert, it was more of a staple meal, with quite a significant size and warmth to it. It had a distinctive peanut flavour and it wasn’t too sweet, but neither of us was a big fan of it. Perhaps it just wasn’t what we were looking for this morning.
The Taiwanese Anchovy Congee (C16 – 台式吻仔鱼粥 – $12) is a loose, wet congee flavoured with little dried anchovies. It is much looser than the congees of my childhood, though not to its detriment. The toppings of youtiao and fried wonton skins added a nice amount of crunch, but unfortunately the anchovy added only a slight almost-imperceptible umami flavour. Though this was a nicely warming bowl overall, I don’t think I really got much out of the anchovy flavouring. I think that if I were to come back I would get a more standard congee, like the one with preserved egg and pork, which is a known favourite.
The Braised Combo Noodle Soup (N6 – 红烧手工牛肉三宝面 – $18.50) was ordered essentially because there was a portrait of it sitting in front of me at the bar seats. It was probably fine, but to be honest at this point in the meal we were a bit too full to enjoy anything properly. The noodles had a slight mala flavour, which I normally don’t mind (and even enjoy) but didn’t appeal to me today. It was packed with protein of multiple bovine sources – muscle, tendon, rumen, and probably some reticulum too. Whilst I enjoyed the muscle, I could only bring myself to nibble on the other beef parts – I think it really is a dish best ordered hungry. The noodles were otherwise good, and the baby bok choy was very tender and sweet. I feel like I disappointed this dish, not the other way around.
The Savoury Rice Pudding (T1 – 碗粿 – $7) was a creamy, almost radish-cakey lump of starch in a bowl of gravy and mince. It was tasty and good, though I’m still not really sure what was inside
SUBSEQUENT VISIT We re-visited Hungry Paulie around 7 months later, under a cloud of general malaise (short-lived, and well worth the extra protection) following the third dose of a COVID vaccine.
The Soy Bean Jelly with Sweet Soft Peanut (花生甜豆花 – $5.50) was like a wet, loose dou fu nao. There was less tofu than I would’ve liked, but I felt it was still adequately soft and silky, suspended in this soy milk soup. My partner, in a moment of surprisingly conviction, said that she thought that the tofu in this was still not as silky as what she gets at yum cha.
The Braised Soy Egg (滷蛋 – $2.50) was a soy egg, cut into quarters, and presented with a bit of garlic and chilli sauce. While there were no surprises with the egg itself, the addition of sauce was completely unexpected, as was the addition of shallots and lettuce. The sauce was ultimately quite tasty, and added to the experience. It’s interesting that there is a price differential between ordering this in the restaurant and via an online ordering app. It appears to be cheaper delivered, which is just strange.
The Fried Radish Cake in Garlic Sauce Dressing ($5.50) was unexpectedly enjoyable. I’m normally not a believer in the radish cakes, but this one had me surprised. The outer layers were crispily fried, whilst the gooey inner layer was only modestly thick and barely noticeable. These radish cakes were drenched in a similar sauce to the eggs, which was very valuable to adding flavour. I think that with optimal frying dimensions and garlic sauce dressing these radish cakes were able to be enjoyed even by the non radish cake lover.
The Traditional Shallots Pancake with Braised Beef (牛肉捲餅 – $11.50) was not as good as the egg pancake, and not as good as I hoped. The actual pancake itself was stellar – thin, hot, and crispy, and with good shallot flavour. What was unfortunate was the filling that the shallot was wrapped around – a huge mass of lettuce, with a small amount of dressing and some cold braised beef. I think some warmth on the beef would’ve gone a long way, and it was certainly not helped by the mass of cold, internally wet lettuce. They really need to rethink this one.
The Taiwanese Pork Thick Soup with Bamboo and added Rice (嘉義赤肉羹 – $17) was quite enjoyable. It had a quality similar to a hot and sour soup, with plenty of white pepper flavour as well as something similar to bonito flake on top. It was thickened, with a reasonable amount of meat, bamboo, and mushrooms for the price. We were almost going to riot for not getting our rice, until we realised it was actually hidden inside the soup. So it was essentially a kind of congee.
This Wintermelon Iced Tea ($3.50) was super fresh, a bit sweet but not too sweet, and quite importantly, cheap. It makes a joke out of Hong Kong Bing Sutt charging $7 for a (delicious) iced milk tea.
VERDICT I quite liked Hungry Paulie, and I’d like to take my parents to the Mascot branch once they feel safe enough from a COVID-19 to leave the house. There are plenty of things that I remember from my childhood on offer at Hungry Paulie that I think they would enjoy.