Monday, March 8, 2010

Taste of Shanghai (2) - Ashfield

Taste of Shanghai

My partner and I were both craving ribs. HUGE rack of ribs. We've been craving ribs for many weeks, even months now. How on earth did we end up in Ashfield eating Shang instead of a huge rack of tender juicy pork ribs???

It was my fault. I was craving ribs, but I was also craving sweet black sesame dessert dumpling. So whilst I was doing my web-search on ribs, I also happened to "accidently" stumble upon some awesomely enticing photos of black sesame dessert dumplings which just so happened to also house some awesomely enticing photos of blue-swimmer crab vermicelli in a paper fire-pot. Amazingly, after much debate, the ribs plan (though still at the back of out minds) was momentarily aborted and we found ourselves at 'Taste of Shanghai' in Ashfield.

For a suburb which abounds in Shanghainese food, I was quite amazed to find a line at this place. We had to wait awhile before we got seated, adding to our anticipation of awesome blue-swimmer crab vermicelli in a paper hot pot setting. The anticipation ... then the disappointment. "Sorry, blue swimmer crab sold out". NOOOOO - how could they do that to us? I think it was the anticipation of awesome crab vermicelli which allowed my partner to talk me into getting the crab vermicelli anyway - even if set-priced small blue swimmer crab was being substituted with $25.80 / 500g live mud crab. I wasn't surprised when the crab vermicelli didn't come in the paper hot-pot version I expected but instead, came in a normal glass plate. Expected - but still slightly disappointing.

However, the dish itself wasn't disappointing. The vermicelli was sooooo soaked in crab roe and crab juices. So tasty, so saucy, so delicious thick crab-tasting vermicelli. YUM. The crab itself was also pretty good. The crab was fresh and meaty and shalloty and roe-y flavoured cooked pretty much just right. The only downside to this was that the shell was SOOO thick. The kitchen probably tried to crack it but failed. I couldn't. My lovely partner could - but he complained about a sore wrist for the rest of the night. It was worth it I think :)

Live mud crab with vermicelli - $25.80/500g

We also ordered the steamed mini pork buns ($8.80). The filling was extremely tasty. Juicy rich pork flavour with porky, slightly oily slightly tongue-burning soup. The dumpling wrapper was less thick that the other Shang places (eg. New Shanghai, Shanghai Night) in Ashfield, but thicker than the ones at Din Tai Fung. So both my partner and I quite liked this combination of dumpling wrap and pork meat and juices. It was really quite YUM.

Steamed Mini Pork Buns - $8.80

My partner also couldn't resist but order the Chef's Recommendation of Garlic Bamboo Chicken ($16.80). Many tables were ordering this dish. It was everywhere! Deep-fried, crispy, lots of shattered bamboo garlicy bits showered everywhere. For not one second did I think this was a healthy dish. It was awefully tasty though. Tender chicken meat covered in unhealthy (yet surprising not oily) batter. Interesting dish.

Garlic Bamboo Chicken - $16.80

Last but first - (ie. even though we told the waitress that we wanted this dessert to be served last, it came first) were my red bean and sesame glutinous sweet dessert balls covered in powered yellow mung beans. These were warm, soft, chewy, and sweet. I love the sesame filling just flowing and oozing out. YUM. But by the end of the crab, I just couldn't really actually eat anything.

Red bean black sesame sweet glutinous dessert balls - $8.80

Overall, the food was quite excellent. Delicious. Yet, the service was definately so so. The couple next to us left coz the food came out so slow. They were replaced by an immensely loud talkative couple who basically gave us a life story unintentionally coz they were sitting so close. So I guess that service and ambiance was slightly poor. I'd probably come back just for the food though :)

Food - 9/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 6/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 29/40

Taste of Shanghai
264 Liverpool Road
NSW 2131
tel: (02) 9798 2877

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