New Shanghai, Chatswood Chase ($$)

Address: Lower Ground Level, Chatswood Chase- 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW

Tel: (02) 9412 3358

Website: http://www.newshanghai.com.au/splash.php

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Wicko and I attended a menu tasting at New Shanghai in Chatswood.

Wicko has started covering a few more events for me as I try to manage work and blogging and transition to being a part-time uni student from March onwards.

This event was particularly appropriate for him  as he went to school in Chatswood so knows the area quite well.  He also is quite a fussy eater so I thought exposing him to something different would be good to develop his blogging palate!

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Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in the food court of Chatswood Chase shopping centre, so we decided to park in the centre and walk down.  This was a good idea on the way there, but was a little creepy when we had to walk through the shopping centre in the dark on the way back!

The atmosphere at the restaurant was a little different to what I had expected.

It was a lot darker, almost a little grungy and it gave off a “busy modern city meets traditional tea house” vibe.

The place was packed out with busy diners, quite good for a Wednesday night out of the CBD.

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There is a small drinks bar on one side, featuring prints of a smiling Chinese girl and a large printed umbrella.  The colours brighten up the dark space and the slightly faded look gives an “old-yet-new” feel.

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There was also a private dining room which was being used when we entered (this photo is from after the meal as I did not want to take a photo while there were people in there).

I loved the red, shiny bamboo wall paper on the walls, an elegant way to brighten up the space.

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Wicko and I also liked the glass windows (similar to those at Din Tai Fung), which showed off the skills of the dumpling and bun makers, kneading and rolling away until each dumpling was perfect.

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The final touches were the antique-looking carved wooden windows ….

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the red windows and bunting….

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and the bamboo coloured neutral table settings.

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Service

We were looked after by the friendly and pleasant Jerry, the Chatswood Manager who was overseeing the staff taking our orders and delivering food.

After perusing the menu, we ordered drinks.

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Some chose pineapple, some Yakult and others pineapple an coconut.

The drinks took a while to come out and all came out at different times but they were really nice and worth the wait.

Wicko chose a Kiwi Blended Ice which was not at all sour, like some of the kiwis you find here. It also contained large chunks of Kiwi on the top.

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Kiwi Blended Ice, $5.80

I chose the Lychee Blended Ice, which I found tasted like lychee jelly, rather than fresh lychee, which was not a problem for me as I love lychee jelly anyway!

The drink was refreshing but I would have liked some pearls or jelly in there like at Easyway and Chatime.

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Lychee Blended Ice, $5.80

The lovely Georgie, who was sitting next to me, chose the Strawberry Blended Ice, which came out topped with a couple of strawberries and some mint.

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Strawberry Blended Ice, $5.80

Food

Food. Boy was there a lot of it.

The menu at New Shanghai is seasonal except for the key basic dishes so in order to try a bit of everything we had both Dim Sim and Mains to share.

We started off with the delicious pillows of pan fried pork buns that were soft on top, crisp on the bottom and full of juicy pork.

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Pan Fried Pork Buns (8 pieces), $10.50 

Next were the Xiao Long Bao, pleated dumplings with a delicate and soft skin, these dumplings were bursting with broth and pork flavour. Delicious and quite a generous serving for the price!

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Xiao Long Bao (8 pieces), $7.80 

One of the more exciting dishes on the menu and definitely one of my favourites, was the Prawn Wonton tossed with peanut butter, red chilli oil and spice. The creamy, nutty flavour of the peanut butter (which you can see in the middle) was perfect with the spicy chilli and cool cucumber and the prawns were cooked until JUST done!

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Prawn Wontons with peanut butter and chilli sauce (10 pieces), $14.80

The steamed Pork Belly Buns were soft and slightly chewy with a tasty sauce, however, the pork was quite dry so I didn’t really like this dish.

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Pork Belly Buns, $6.00 (2 pieces)

The pan fried pork dumplings were great as they were so golden and delicious on the bottom, perfect with the vinegar and soy sauce.

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Here’s a photo of the bottom of the dumplings:

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Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8 pieces), $9.90

After we had enjoyed the Dim Sim, we moved on to the Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce.

While I am definitely not a mushroom person and couldn’t handle more than a bite of these slimy looking things, I did enjoy the tofu, the glossy sauce and the braised greens.

Great for the vegetarians!

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Braised Tofu and Mushroom in Sweet Soy Sauce, $16.80

Next were the Stir Fried Claims with XO Sauce. The claims were well cooked, the sauce was sweet and a little spicy and the shallots were crunchy and added some freshness and colour.

Wicko also enjoyed his first clam, noting that he had caught one once on a fishing trip by accident.  Nice.

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Stir Fried Clam, $15.80

The Steamed Fish with Seaweed was soft and flaky, falling apart easily when prodded with our chopsticks. I’m not 100% sure exactly what the sauce was or how much it cost though as I couldn’t find it on the menu.

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My favourite dish, possibly of all time, had to be the Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab.  This dish was a winner all round and we enjoyed the super crunchy fried crab, the spicy chili and the well seasoned batter.  The presentation was also nice with some bright colours to lift the look of the dish.

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Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab, $29.80

Next we had the King Prawn in Ginger and Shallots with Vermicelli.  There were plenty of prawns in this dish, even if they were a little overdone and hard to peel (HOW do you peel prawns with chopsticks and a soup spoon!?).

The ginger and shallot sauce was tasty but I wasn’t a fan of all the noodles at the bottom, a little too much vermicelli for me!

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We then had the Salt and Pepper Deep Fried School of Prawns, which were the same as the soft shell crab, except crunchier.

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The Sizzling Seafood Hot Pot was next.  A pot full of seafood broth, steaming vegetables, tofu, fish, prawns and squid, this dish was something light that you could enjoy with fried rice of noodles, without feeling super guilty that you just ate all dat fried crab.

???????????????????????????????The Rainbow Beef was next.  The beef was cut super thin, battered and then fried and coated in a red sweet and sour sauce, leaving it crunchy and sweet.

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Rainbow Beef, $17.80

It was served with some steamed plain bread that you were meant to place the beef in, although I only ended up trying a piece of the bread and a couple of pieces of the beef.

The bread was light and pillowy and very cutely shaped so that they looked like little clouds!

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Finally, the last dish was the Fried Rice with XO Sauce.  The rice was so flavoursome and colourful and I loved the prawns and egg in there.

A great dish to complement any of the other mains, especially the steamed vegetable and seafood dishes.

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Fried Rice in XO Sauce, $11.90

For dessert, we shared HUGE bowls of shaved ice, ice cream, fresh mango and strawberry (yes, fresh!), and some condensed milk.

Despite half the dish being ice, once the ice cream and ice started melting the combination of fruity flavours mixing in with the ice made for a cold and satisfying dessert.

We were surprised to find that all this was only $10.80, however, you are only able to choose either mango or strawberry when you order this at the restaurant.

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Fresh Mango or Strawberry Shaved Ice, $10.80

Summary

The food was very tasty and there was so much variety, flavour and technique used in making these dishes.  Great value as well and large serving sizes.

The decor is traditional meets modern, and I loved the glass area where the dumplings and buns were made and the beautiful red and black antique looking features.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  8
  • Food-  8
  • Atmosphere- 7.75
  • Value – 8

TCFB and Wicko dined complimentarily as guests of Wasamedia and New Shanghai. 

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mint & Lychee Drink

This cool and refreshing summer drink is perfect for hot weather and is so easy to make.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 springs fresh mint
  • 2L lemonade
  • 2 tins (560g each) pitted lychees

Method:

1. Pour the lychees, lemon juice and mint into a blender and blend until all ingredients are crushed and well blended.

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2. Refrigerate until cool.

3. Pour lychee mix into a large jug and add lemonade.

4. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint.

For a cocktail version, add some vodka to the mix!

Thainista, Willoughby ($)

Address: 330-332 Penshurst Street Willoughby 2068

Tel: (02) 9882 2189

Website: http://www.thainista.com.au

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On Friday night we decided to visit Thainista in Willoughby. It is a pretty nice looking restaurant, situated on busy Penshurst Street, about 5 minutes from Chatswood.

This was the 3rd of my “3 Thai restaurants in 3 days” weekend!

See here for restaurants 1 and 2.

Service

We waited a short while before being seated by the window. The waitresses were very friendly but were quite slow to attend to us when we tried to get their attention, probably due to the fact that the restaurant was pretty busy and there were only a few waitresses.

Atmosphere

The restaurant had a nice atmosphere. The dining area looked nice and neat, and had nice wooden panelling on the walls and mood lighting. However, my dad said the bathrooms weren’t very clean and you could see the old-looking kitchen from the dining area.

Food

Food was excellent. We really enjoyed all the dishes that we ordered. For entrees we had:

  • Spring Rolls x 2

There were 4 spring rolls per serve which meant we got 8 altogether. I enjoyed the hot and crunchy spring rolls which were served with a plum sauce. However, my brother and mum didn’t really like them as they had a lot of cabbage in them.

  • Satay Chicken Skewers

This entree came with 4 skewers. The chicken was soft and moist and the satay sauce was delicious and rich. We all really enjoyed this dish and it was my mum’s favourite entree.

  • Curry Puffs

The curry puffs (4) had a nice soft pastry and a spicy vegetable filling. They were served with sweet chilli sauce and were very enjoyable.

For the mains we ordered:

  • Massaman Beef Curry

This curry had two large chunks of melt in your mouth beef which were cooked in a creamy and aromatic coconut sauce. A little spicy, this dish was another of mum’s favourites.

  • Chicken Cashew Nut Noodle

The Chicken Cashew Noodle dish was my way of ordering a Chicken Cashew dish without ordering a Chicken Cashew dish. This was basically Cashew Chicken with flat rice noodles. Unfortunately the dish was more noodle than chicken which was a little disappointing, but the actual flavour of the dish was quite nice.

  • Seafood Pad Cha Talay

This was a very spicy seafood dish containing mussels, calamari and prawns stir-fried with mixed vegetables, lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves and chilli. I loved the chilli prawns and the crunchy snow peas and capsicum which added colour to the dish.

  • King Prawn with Sweet Creamy Basil Sauce

The King Prawn dish had 3 very large prawns in it. Obviously it woould have been better if there were 4 considering there were 4 of us. There were some other vegetables in the dish including broccoli and carrot as well. The sauce was basically a coconut milk or cream base with a lot of turmeric, chilli and prawn flavours in it. I really enjoyed the rich flavours of this dish as it tasted as though the prawn flavour had been infused into the curry, unlike dishes I have had at other places where the sauce has just been added to the meat after/during cooking.

  • Steamed Rice

Just some plain rice to go with the curries. For dessert we were told the only options that day were lychees or vanilla ice-cream. We ordered 2 of each.

  • Lychees

The lychee dish was just 4 lychees in syrup (from a can) with a few ring-shaped ice cubes to cool it down. Refreshing, but very simple for a restaurant dessert.

  • Vanilla Ice-cream

Basically your standard vanilla ice-cream, nothing special here.

Cost:

Not very expensive and good food. Most dishes are about $15.00 but Signature dishes are around the $20.00 mark.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

    • Service- 5
    • Food- 8
    • Ambience- 6.5
    • Value – 7.5

Thainista on Urbanspoon

Thai Pothong, Newtown ($$)

Address: 294 King Street, Newtown

Tel: 9550 6277

Website: http://www.thaipothong.com.au/

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Thai Pothong’s website says it is the “winner of best Thai restaurant in Sydney 4 years in a row.” That’s a lot to live up to.

We made a reservation for 5 (including one special visitor from Perth!) on Thursday and headed out to Newtown.

Atmosphere

Once we were inside one of the first things I noticed was that it was very busy. The restaurant is pretty big as far as restaurants go, and at least two-thirds of it was full with diners.

The second thing I noticed was that it was quite elaborately decorated. At the front of the restaurant are two HUGE shiny Predator statues. There was a gift shop with various bits and pieces from Thailand for sale, and on the walls are brass ornaments, paintings, elephant heads, Hindu deities and Buddha statues.

Although the decor was a little overwhelming, it made for a nice atmosphere. You felt as though you were at a restaurant in Thailand as opposed to being just a few minutes’ drive from Sydney. The chatter of excited diners and the fragrant smells of Thai delights coming out of the kitchen contributed to this authentic atmosphere and made the experience more exciting.

Service

Service was good with our friendly waiting checking on us every little while to see if we needed more drinks, water or rice.

Food

I ordered a lychee blended ice which was absolutely delicious and so refreshing. The iciness of the drink and the sweetness of the mango were perfect for putting out the heat from the spicy food!

We each ordered a dish. I (after my usual 15 minutes of indecisiveness) settled on Choo Chee Prawns with steamed rice. Two of my friends ordered the Green Curry and two ordered Cashew Chicken, which are both great standard Thai dishes.

The Prawn Choo Chee was a creamy red curry featuring coconut milk, basil, chilli, lemongrass, garlic, galangal (a type of ginger) and kaffir lime leaf.

The portion size was perfect for one person and the dish was rich, creamy and spicy. Absolutely delicious and one of my new favourite dishes!

The Thai Green curries looked lovely and contained bamboo shoots, eggplant, chilli and of course, coconut milk.

It was MDS’ first time having a Green Curry as she is not too keen on spicy food -despite her Portuguese background! Although it was a bit spicy she seemed to really enjoy the dish, as did our friend from Perth who likes spicy food.

 

The other two members of our party ordered the Cashew Chicken. One of them commented that although tasty, the chicken was cut very thin and so it was a little dry and did not retain the flavour of the cashew sauce well.

 

Cost:

Most dishes on the menu ranged from about $16-25, which isn’t too bad for a restaurant that is meant to have “the best Thai in Sydney.”

Rating:

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

    • Service- 7
    • Food- 7.5
    • Ambience- 8.5
    • Value – 8

Thai Pothong Restaurant and Gift Shop on Urbanspoon