Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons & Noodles

Is it faux pas to blog about a sister restaurant in such a short period of time? Not if you feel like it is a matter of urgency - which sums up my feelings towards Shanghai Street's second location on La Trobe St, the adventurously named Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons & Noodles.

Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons & Noodles
64 LaTrobe Street
Open: Mon - Sat, lunch + dinner
BYO: Not yet.. no liquor license

Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons and Noodle on Urbanspoon

I had planned an early meet up at 6pm, concerned it would be flooded with rabid customers given the popularity of its flagship store.  Instead I was greeted with a sea of empty tables and one handsome Weazelby waiting politely "I got the last table" he had SMS'd.. yerrrr right.  The actual dining space is comparable to the original, although the kitchen is set down on the lower mezzanine with a lot more room to move.  Decorated in a classic stark office-turned-kitchen vibe, Shanghai Street doesn't pretend to be fancy or fashionable.  This is another one of my favourite generalisations with Chinese restaurants - " less glitz on the walls, more ritz in the food ".  I have never said that awful saying out loud before, and I don't think I ever will.  There is no liquor license as yet, so you have to be content with tea or fizzy pop.

 I was determined to try the pan fried juicy buns after foolishly maintaining restraint at Shanghai Street.

Pan fried juicy buns $8.80 for 6 

I was initially disappointed at first glance, regardless of their glistening skin, as I had remembered these looking more plump and bready when I had perved on other customers plates.  Chomping into one immediately sent my pessimism recoursing to the back of my mind as my mouth was filled with juicy pork and soup - there really is no way to describe eating these without sounding like a Mills & Boon novel.  They were basically a more beefed porked up fried Xiao Long Bao with thicker dumpling skin - the soup tends to be absorbed by the skin so you can't dawdle before attacking these.

Homemade spring onion pancake - vegetarian $6.80

Although a touch more expensive than usual, you definitely get more bang for your buck with Shanghai Street's version.  It's the size of a small pizza, and sinfully fried (either shallow or deep) giving a mouth watering crispy outer with a soft, pillowy filling inside.  It's a tad on the greasy side.. but so tasty you just don't care.  The vegetarian version came with a choy sum filling, a nice mental comforter to offset grease guilts.  I was curious to see the other option came with bacon - which is something you don't commonly see associated with Shanghai cuisine, perhaps ham / spam / luncheon meat..  I'll be sure to do the right thing and try it next time too.

Glorious glorious pancake

Fish ball claypot with vermicilli and vegetables $8.80

This was delivered in a classic claypot reveal fashion, steaming and bubbling ferociously after the lid was removed.  The chilli hit was clear, my nose was instantly tingling.  Although I loved the chilli element to this dish the rest felt a little lacklustre, with the soup quite tasteless and the fish balls sad, squidgy spheres bouncing around without any bite.  What I did enjoy was the crunchy woodear fungus and choy sum. This dish feels like the kind of comfort food you might cook at home - but not something I will be ordering again.

Peking dumplings (pork) in chilli oil soup $8.50 for 15 

In my chilli intoxicated haze I accidentally ordered the peking dumplings instead of wontons in chilli oil soup, however these turned out to be just as fantastic.  I generally tend to favour thinner skinned dumpling/wonton varietals as I find dumpling skin to be gluey after eating a couple.  The pork filling was wonderfully dotted with chives, onion and possibly cabbage.  A winning combination with a surprisingly fresh aftertaste, a rarity in the dumpling domain.  The chilli soup was quite a  light broth with chilli oil drizzled on top.

Shanghai Street Dumplings, Wontons & Noodles feels like the neglected little sister who is deserving of more attention and I shake my head everytime I ride past the Little Bourke St store and see people queued outside.  Although I am glad, for now at least, that this new alternative is less frenetic.

The most wonderful part of this fortuitous evening was arriving home to a beautiful bunch of ranunculi and erlicheers from my friend NS, reminding me to take a minute to smell the flowers in my current time of Phd madness.  What a lovely, thoughtful lady! The flowers were delivered from fowlers flowers - who I have mentioned before are one of my favourite florists right next door to Mixed Business on Queens Parade.

To checkout my last visit to Shanghai Street (lt Bourke St) click here


  1. Do you know the trading hours?

    1. Sorry I'm not sure the exact hours - they are open Mon-Saturday Lunch-dinner, I'm assuming they operate similarly to the Lt Bourke St store and have a break from 3:30-5pm