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
As Western Sydney locals but relative strangers to the South West, it took a couple of laps around the block for us to realise that the neon-lit Chololo made famous across social media was actually situated within the somewhat dingy and run down food court of the Fairfield Chase shopping centre. The initial surprise that someone chose to open a new diner in such a place faded quickly however, as we ordered and settled in for our special Taco Tuesday meal.
Our main order was the Birria Ramen Pack with 3 beef tacos ($21). This pack is differentiated from their regular birria pack through the addition of instant noodles and pulled beef into the dipping soup.
The standard taco itself wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t a standout. The beef inside was reasonably moist, the filling to tortilla ratio was good, and the finely diced green vegetables inside were most welcome. Despite this I just didn’t get the vibe that they were very special, that is until I had them with the excellent chilli sauce, which was so fresh and fruity with just the right amount of spice. Dipping the tacos into the provided consommé, in this case an instant noodle soup, didn’t really enhance the experience as much as I had expected. It simply made the taco a bit more salty and a bit more soggy.
I don’t profess to be an instant noodle guru, though I have had many in my day. I found the noodles and the overall “ramen” experience of the birria ramen to be a bit lacking, and contrary to other online reviewers who enjoyed layering the noodles into the tacos I didn’t feel like this added anything. The noodles simply didn’t have enough of a non-salt flavour to add to the tacos, and if I were to go back I’d be choosing the standard birria pack rather than pay the premium for noodles that I did not enjoy.
Despite my lukewarm response to everything so far, the keto tacos ($4 each) were surprisingly good. We visited, by providence, on a Taco Tuesday as well, which meant that additional tacos were $2 each with any purchase of a birria or ramen pack. These keto tacos had the same general fillings as Chololo’s standard tacos, except that the carb-laden tortilla was replaced by a fat-laden crisp of grilled cheese. The cheese “tortilla” on these tacos were extremely crispy, crunchy, and tasty, while the fresh vegetables within and supplied limes to squeeze helped to balance out the oiliness. We had both the chicken and beef keto tacos, and both were quite delicious to the mouth, if repulsive when you actually start to think about how bad they are for you.
COMMENTS If I were a man in a state of extreme unintentional calorie deficit and catabolism I would come back on a Tuesday and gobble up those delicious $2 keto tacos with their excellent chilli sauce. As I am hoping not to have a CABG in the next decade however I think I will probably not come back.
Chololo Fairfield Fairfield Chase Shopping Centre, 34 Council Ln, Fairfield NSW 2165 0413 675 536
Taste of Xi’an (西安风味) is a nice and clean Chinese restaurant serving up Xi’an favourites in the middle of the Wollongong CBD. I arrived in scrubs on a Saturday morning (borrowed from my girlfriend, having forgotten to bring clothes from Sydney) and was greeted in friendly Chinese. I responded in kind, but to the disappointment of everyone (including, I imagine, my parents) had to order in English.
The Five Spicy Egg ($1.30) is a low cost boiled egg, with a slightly cracked shell that promotes the absorbance of tea, soy sauce and spices. This particular egg had absorbed a good amount of tea scent, but its absorbance of soy sauce flavour or saltiness could’ve been greater. It was fully hard boiled.
The Xi’an Style PorkBurger ($6 – roujiamo) is a sandwich of long-stewed pork in bread. Legend has it that this particular dish is one of humanity’s original hamburgers. I enjoyed the fragrant flavours of the meat, as well as the generous meat to bread ratio. The addition of some fatty meat within the mixture of mostly lean pork added a nice juiciness to some bites. My last roujiamo was at least three years ago in Hurstville, and thus I cannot compare this directly with any others that I have had.
The Pork Minced Noodles with Soup ($11) was nice, umami, and warming. The noodles had a pleasant “Q”like texture, and I suspect though have not confirmed that they are handmade on site, The soup was nice and moist, and synergised well with the roujiamo. I have read online commentors complain about the quantity of meat (though to too little) and soy sauce (thought to be too much) in this noodle dish, though I think both are quite appropriate, as someone who enjoys meat and dislikes too heavily flavoured foods. This noodle bowl straddles the line well. In terms of greenery, this bowl offers some undisclosed leaves, as well as a quantity of peas, and diced carrot and potato, in a manner reminiscent of a supermarket frozen diced vegetable mix, though surprisingly not to its detriment. Not bad.
COMMENTS I will return for the dumplings at a later date.
Taste of Xi’an (西安风味) 230 Crown St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Sushi LAB is a local inter-Sea of Japan collaboration serving a mixture of Korean and Japanese dishes in a family-oriented vibe, complete with children playing on iPads sipping from juice boxes and very nice service.
The deluxe sashimi ($37.50) was a well priced assortment of 15 pieces of seafood. I enjoyed the surprising inclusion of marinated octopus, though was not so fond of the giant oysters. The surf clam I felt was a bit icy at service, so I left my second piece (my partner does not eat such unfamiliar sea creatures without a fight) until the end of the meal to allow it to thaw a bit. Overall I felt this was well priced with good quality of salmon in particular.
I enjoyed this dragon roll ($20.80), though some may scoff at the choice. Sometimes you just need a dirty, non-traditional snack of tempura prawn, crab salad, eel, and teriyaki-mayonnaise to ruin your macros.
This wagyu beef ramyun (spicy, $17.80) was actually great. The flavours of the soup, though not very spicy, were very enjoyable, as was the bean sprout which inspired me to cook some more bean sprout related dishes at home the next few days. The beef was tasty and not too fatty, and the noodles, though probably not super special in and of themselves, were cooked to a degree of perfection unknown to this blogger’s girlfriend who do anything with instant noodles except immerse them in hot water.
OVERALL I think we had quite a nice meal at this small family restaurant, and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.
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.