My love of dumplings has been well documented, so I jumped at an invitation from the lovely George to attend New Shanghai’s first ever Dumpling and Wine dinner. Admittedly wine is not the first beverage I would think of to pair with dumplings – tea or a cold beer, perhaps – and so I was intrigued. New Shanghai’s Chatswood Chase outpost has a stunning fit out in dramatic black and red, taking inspiration from the opulence of 1930’s Shanghai to create a moody, eclectic and beautiful restaurant that has always been busy every time I’ve walked past. It’s amazing to watch the chefs in the kitchen through the glass expertly pleating dumplings.
The first thing I noticed as we were shown to our table was the wine. Lots of wine. In the wise words of Chocolatesuze, Happy Friday, err.. Tuesday. All the better to break the ice and make new friends! Wine matching is all about the wine making the food taste better and vice versa. I would imagine Chinese food being one of the more difficult cuisines to match. After a brief rundown of the event and an introduction to the wines we’d be drinking, from a fresh vibrant Riesling to a ‘crisp’ Chardonnay, all the way to a Shiraz Cabernet, we were served our first course.
The cold mixed dish starter consisted of 3 small snack-like dishes – shredded kelp mixed with spice and vinegar dressing, a chopped cucumber tossed with fresh garlic, and the unanimous favourite on our table was the Drunken Chicken, which had been soaked in Chinese wine, herbs and spices. I loved how fresh all the components were, which made the Riesling a perfect match.
Of course I had been looking forward to the dumplings! My favourite dumplings in Sydney are found at Mr Chows in the Rocks, but New Shanghai’s Xiao Long Bao (steamed mini pork bun with soup filling) come pretty close. As did the delicious mini crab meat and pork buns! I also really enjoyed the steamed vegetarian dumpling, filled with vermicelli, greens and mushrooms. I was thankful for the warning that the dumplings were filled with hot soup, yet in my impatience, I somehow still managed to burn my mouth!
One of my favourite dishes of the night was the shepherd’s purse and pork wonton tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil and spice. It was quite a different way of serving dumplings but they were utterly delicious. The sesame butter had a beautiful nutty taste, but it overpowered the chilli oil a little, and I would have loved it even more with a bit more of a spice kick. The grated cucumber added some freshness, and worked really well to contrast the rich flavours.
Next up was some fried dumpling deliciousness – New Shanghai’s signature pan-fried pork bun, which was a favourite on my last visit, was as delicious as ever with a generous meaty filling. We were also served a pan-fried pork dumpling, and what I believe was a tiny portion of shallot pancake. After a few glasses of wine at this point, we were amused to find that the three dumplings together looked like a sun, moon and star.
The dishes had been coming out in quick succession – the staff are definitely efficient – but I was having some trouble keeping up with the wine side of things! The shepherd’s purse, prawn and tofu soup was a nice palate cleanser, before we moved onto the heavier dishes.
I had been looking forward to trying the pork belly braised overnight in sweet soy sauce, and it was as delicious as it sounds, and a stunning match for the Penfolds Koonunga Hill 76 Shiraz Cabernet 2010. I was getting extremely full by this point, but there’s an unwritten food blogger rule that you have to push through when fried chicken is involved! New Shanghai’s deep-fried chicken with special garlic and chilli sauce was so worth it!
Our dessert was a slow-cooked white fungus with papaya soup. I liked the refreshing taste, but I wasn’t alone in finding the texture quite strange and sort of slimy. I think you either love Chinese desserts like this or you don’t. I’m glad I got to try it and I try to keep an open mind towards food in general, but I couldn’t finish it. The texture was a little too weird for me!
Thanks again to George from Wasamedia for inviting me along to this great event – I have definitely been convinced that wine and dumplings are a lovely match. I’ll surely be back at New Shanghai in the future for a repeat serving of those amazing shepherd’s purse dumplings in sesame butter. If you’re interested in attending, New Shanghai are hosting more Dumpling and Wine Dinners in the next few months, so hit up the website for details.
Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Wasamedia
New Shanghai Chatswood Chase, Shop B-038 Chatswood Chase (02) 9412 3358