Don't know if it's just me, but there seems to be a lot of Taste of Shanghai restaurants around now a days. I guess, Taste of Shanghai must think so too, as they had a competition to name their new establishment at The Concourse. The winner came up with Shanghai Stories 1938 and won an iPad2 and iPhone4, and for everyone else who participated they received a Taste of Shanghai VIP discount card. I'd love to know the winner's thoughts whilst coming up with this name, as the time period chosen seems a bit controversial.
Anyway, Shanghai Stories 1938 is quite modern and sleek. Although it's a massive two level restaurant, we still had to patiently wait our turn before getting a table. I wanted to give up and eat elsewhere, but Cheesecake Boy said we'd already waited too long to leave our spot when we were almost there. You see patience is definitely not one of my virtues, but Cheesecake Boy kept me going with the thought of dumplings.
We're finally seated and the lower level is a lot smaller inside than expected. Everything at Shanghai Stories 1938 is a bit fancier than your usual Taste of Shanghai restaurant, it's not just because they offer high tea, but the teapots and cups made Cheesecake Boy felt awkwardly dainty. Another point of difference was that there were two pairs of chopsticks per person. One pair was white and the other black, I guess if you don't want to mix your savoury and sweet, it's the perfect system. Also to order they provide you with a paper menu, and you need to write your quantities down as you go. I don't mind this system at all, just wished that they mentioned it when we were seated and not when I wanted to order.
|Jasmine tea, $4.80 per pot|
Surprisingly our dessert of panda buns came out first. I had assumed that the buns were for dessert, and so did Cheesecake Boy. However, when Cheesecake Boy inquired if the buns were sweet, the waitress said they weren't, but have red bean paste in them, so we both ended up a bit confused. Anyway, I decided that we were going to have them for dessert and put them aside to cool down.
|China panda buns, $5.80|
Our first savoury offerings came out, and I am starving by then. The pan fried beef buns were slightly crisp on the outside and wonderfully soft and fluffy inside. The beef mince and onion filling although there was not much of it, had a really nice, but unexpected curry flavour coming through. Cheesecake Boy and I really liked these, and share exactly one and a half buns between the two of us, because neither of us wanted to give up our extra half.
|Pan fried beef buns, $7.80|
For us, pan fried pork buns are a must order. They're nice, but not the best pan fried pork buns that I've ever had. I didn't experience the much loved gushing of piping hot juices after my first bite in so they were slightly dry, instead being succulent and juicy little morsels that I adore.
|Shanghai pan fried buns, $6.80|
Cheesecake Boy wanted the prawn and pork wontons in chilli and vinegar sauce. Besides being as pretty as a picture, these wontons were beautifully silky and were generously filled with pork and some prawns. I like the slightly more acidic notes of vinegar coming through in this sauce over the chilli. They were very moreish and before we knew it, all six wontons were gone.
|Wontons (prawn & pork) in chilli and vinegar sauce, $8.80|
Pan fried pork dumplings use to be my favourite kind of dumpling, that was until my first glorious pan fried pork bun experience, and I've never looked back. Anyway, I saw some orders of pan fried pork and chive dumplings floating around and it made me feel nostalgic. After eating one of these dumplings I became having seconds thoughts as to why I had deserted them in the first place. Beautifully crisp bottoms and nicely cooked through, I really had forgotten how much I once loved these dumplings. The additional of chives in the filling was good for something a bit different to just plain pork.
|Pan fried pork and chive dumplings, $6.80|
Our meal was almost over and Cheesecake Boy's mango frappe finally arrived. The heat had Cheesecake Boy craving one of his many weaknesses being icy drinks and mangoes, so a mango frappe was exactly what Cheesecake Boy was looking for. I actually didn't mind this at all, it almost tasted like the mango part of a Weiss Bar, just without the creaminess and slightly more sugary. There were also bits of jelly-like mango pieces for some extra texture against the blended iciness.
|Mango frappe, $6.80|
We had one more savoury to come, but it was taking a while and these panda buns were just looking at me to eat them, so I did. The red bean paste filling was not overly sweet, but felt a bit dry in the mouth. However, the buns were adorable, but I'm biased as the panda has to be my favourite animal. There's this clip that shows a baby panda sneezing. I seriously cannot remember how many times I've watched the sneezing baby without a smile coming across my face each time.
Right after dessert, one of the waitress' started to clear our table, but we were still waiting for one more dish to come out. They had forgotten our noodles. Although, as soon as the order was put through, it literally took less than ten minutes for our fried noodles with shredded beef and black pepper to grace our presences. The noodles were crispy and crunchy, but we found the black pepper sauce a bit too artificial for our liking. However, I did enjoy the addition of the capsicum, as it really helped cut through the black pepper sauce.
|Fried noodles with shredded beef and black pepper, $9.80|
Shanghai Stories 1938 is definitely pricier, flashier and has very different options available compared to other Taste of Shanghai restaurants. However, if you're looking for something different then Shanghai Stories 1938 may be your cup of tea, but I'd try the yum cha menu first to test the waters, as their other menu seems quite pricy in parts. Anyway, it's good to see something different is emerging in this relatively new establishment, and I'm a bit curious about this Shanghai style high tea that they have on offer.
Munching away, Dumpling Girl.
Shanghai Stories 1938
419 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: (02) 9261 8832