Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Shanghai Nights, Ashfield

Since before Christmas, SK had been organising for a group of us to head over to Parramatta to try the famous Temasek, but unfortunately, when I tried to make the booking the night before, we found out that it wouldn't be opening until the 14th of January! So with less than a day left to decide where we could eat, JC suggested we head out to Ashfield for Shanghai Nights, which is 'cheap and delicious' - that's reason enough to make the 45 minute drive for me!

We got there fairly early, at around 6:30pm and stood outside to wait for the rest of our group but the lady inside, who I assume was one of the owners, asked us how many people we were waiting on and kindly offered to set-up a table for us while we waited. Brownie points for that warm service and I wasn't even in the door yet!

Our ordering process was short and simple. We knew what we wanted and we wanted it fast - most of us were starving!

Deep Fried Shallot Pancake with Sesame $4.50

I'm a big fan of deep fried foods, though in the recent years, being a bit more health conscious, I've tried to reduce my intake of such delicious dishes. This night was an exception and I was definitely not missing out. I know you're all going to be bored of me saying this by the end of the post, but it wasn't oily which made me feel a bit better about giving into my fried food urges. It was made fresh and came out extremely hot (watch out!) but crispy and light - perfect little appetiser to get us started for the food battle that would later unfold on the very same tables!

Fried New Year Cake with XO Sauce $10.80

Although it wasn't quite Chinese New Year, we thought that we'd pretend that it was close enough since it was actually a New Year and a new beginning...with traditional Shanghainese Fried New Year Cake with XO Sauce. I'm a big fan of this sauce - you can really just add a touch of it to most dishes and it adds a nice bit of subtle spicy flavour to the chewy texture of the rice cake.

Pork & Vegies Wonton Soup $4.50

Truthfully, I didn't find this particularly attractive at first. I've never been a huge fan of wontons, and to be honest it doesn't get presented that nicely. But when you take your first nibble of it (yes, I have a large mouth) you can feel the soft, smooth pastry wrapped around a generous amount of pork filling - divine! Past experience with wontons is that the filling is either close to non-existant, or the pastry is to bundled up and dried out. This tasting featured neither of those so I was quite happy with it settling in my stomach for the night!

 Shanghai Shao-Mai (Sticky Rice & Pork Steamed Dumpling) $6.50

This was the first time I've seen this version of Shao-Mai let alone tasted it. I can't say it resembles your typical shao-mai from yum cha very much, but it was definitely delicious. The sticky rice was slightly moist and overall, not too oily and as with everything I tried that night, extremely filling. I did manage to fit another one down to satisfy my tastebuds though!

Pan Fried Pork Buns $8.50

This was probably the most filling out of everything we ordered that night and although I'm not particularly fond of the thickness of the bread outer layer of this dish, I have to say my food loving brain took the better of me. Taking one bite out of these little buns is like taking on the flavour army! Inside my mouth I could feel the little imaginary characters dancing on my tastebuds as it filled my mouth with the flavours of the pork. Hopefully that wasn't too graphic as to put anyone off - you'll be missing out!

Pan Fried Dumplings $8.50

Now, moving on to my favourite Pan Fried Dumplings! Since it's a dumpling, the pastry wasn't too thick and dry and being pan-fried it played well in my mouth of the crispy texture. Add a little big of vinegar to it and this made my experience here all the more worthwhile! If I'm not going back to this place for anything else, I'll be going back for this. Simple, cheap and delicious!

Sesame Fried Sticky Rice Cakes $4.50

We finished off our meal with a bit of a spontaneous guest to the table! While we were looking through the menu, our multilingual abilities as a group must have confused the waitress - we actually never ordered the Sesame Fried Sticky Rice Cakes but were curious as to what it was. I guess she just assumed we would want it? In the end, we shared it but was a bit disappointed that it wasn't that different to what we could get from yum cha - it was a big bigger and stickier inside. I think I prefer the typical yum cha styled version!

We were lucky to have gotten in early because by the time we had finished, there was a huge crowd outside. The owner of the store came over and apologised and asked politely if we could start finishing up. We were perfectly happy to do so. What I love about this place isn't just the food and how kind it was on both our tastebuds and our wallets for the night but the fact that they had the warmest customer service, especially in light of the bustle of their store. I think that there are lots of restaurants out there who could learn a thing or two from the owners of Shanghai Nights - all customers understand the fact that a restaurant is busy and would be happy to stick to time limits and seat restrictions - if you're nice and polite about it, then the night concludes happily with satisfied customers. A huge thumbs up from me for satisfying all these criteria! =) Definitely worth a repeat visit!

Shanghai Nights
275 Liverpool Rd
Ashfield NSW 2131
PH: (02) 9798 8437


  1. OMG I LOVE SHANG FOOD! And it's not because I'm Shang.. I AM FRICKEN DROOLING OVER EVERYTHING! WHYY WHYYY! Your blog is not healthy for the weight conscious! *SHAKES FIST*

  2. Are there more steamed options or is the menu mostly fried options? Looks yum!

  3. A lot of restaurants are closed for the first few weeks of the year (especially in the suburbs), but I find it amazing that a Chinese restaurant would! All the dumplings and buns look great here.

  4. I have a major craving for dumplings now!

  5. You've gotta go to Temasek. You just gotta.

    Dumplings and pau look pretty sweet though.

  6. i've been wanting to try this place for awhile but everytime i'm in ashfield looking for dinner, the queue at this place has gone out the door and down the road!

  7. @discoremixx -♥: haha, and you've followed out blog so i'm sure that promotes even more healthy living! :D

    @Just.: yeah, there are plenty of steamed options but the group that we went with, including myself much prefer the pan-fried variations :)

    @joey: yeah, usually the Chinese restaurants remain open as much as possible eh? but i guess, if a restaurant is always busy and doing really well, they can afford to take that break haha.

    @missklicious: haha, you should pay them a visit :) i think we all have cravings when we read blogs!

    @The Ninja: t'was great meeting you the other night! and yes, we did end up going to Temasek - the post is just on the backlogs at the moment ;)

    @panda: we didn't even consider booking but then again we turned up pretty early! it is definitely worth a try though! :)

  8. i love panfried dumplings!

    normally i dont order buns cos then i get too full quickly and dont get to eat anything else haha (same when i go to yumcha)