New Shanghai, Chatswood

I had read numerous blog posts about the myriad of Shanghai dumpling places in Ashfield. Cheap and delicious xiao long baos as well as the crunchy, burnished bottoms of the pan fried pork buns. Ashfield was a bit far for me but I was willing to travel the distance until, like magic, New Shanghai opened up in Chatswood!

This has slowly become Sir D’s favourite place to eat in Chatswood (any mention of dumplings will see his face light up with enthusiasm) because you can get quite a lot of tasty Shanghainese food without leaving a hole in your hip pocket. Admittedly the service is not so great in that during peak times they really do not have enough floor staff and can come across as being very inattentive, but the food and cheap prices make up for it.

Famous New Shanghai pan fried pork buns – $8.80

When Sir D and I come here we either order the xiao long bao or the pan fried pork buns and tonight, it’s the pork buns. These have a bread-like exterior which is nice and brown on the bottom. Inside is a ball of pork swimming in delicious soup. Be careful when you eat these – the first time I bit into one I managed to squirt soup all over Sir D! I probably should have read Not Quite Nigella’s instructions on how to eat a soup dumpling beforehand.

Pork and chive dumplings – $7.80

Tonight we also get the pork and chive dumplings which are great value for money – 12 dumplings for only $7.80. I would probably describe these as a less refined and sophisticated version of the xiao long bao – the dumpling skins aren’t quite as thin and there isn’t that lovely soup inside – but they are still very tasty!

Pork chops braised in shallot and soy sauce served on noodle soup – $8.80

We’re with Sir D’s family tonight so we also order some extra dishes on top of the dumplings. First up is the pork chop with noodle soup. The noodles are not too soft and the pork chop is delicious. In fact, I could probably eat the whole bowl by myself!

Stir fried Shanghai noodle with shredded pork and vegetable – $8.80

The stir fried Shanghai noodles are the next to arrive and although these noodles are one of my favourites I find that they are a bit too oily.

Crispy chicken on rice – $9.80 (not sure how much without rice)

We also order some crispy skin chicken which has a nice sauce and isn’t too dry, but by this stage I’m getting quite full (and also saving some room for dessert) so I only have a couple of pieces.

Pan fried pumpkin pastry filled with red bean paste – $8.80

The first time I ordered the pan fried pumpkin pastry was purely out of curiousity but since then I have been ordering it almost every time. The pastry doesn’t actually taste too much like pumpkin but it is fried and crispy on the outside and chewy like Japanese mochi on the inside. The sweet red bean filling gives most of the flavour and these are totally addictive and very filling. Highly recommended =D

New Shanghai
Shop 20, 441 Victoria Ave (Ground floor of Lemon Grove, next to de Pho)
Chatswood NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 94153536
Monday – Wednesday, 10am-8pm
Thursday – Sunday, 10am-8.30pm

View Larger Map
New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Gratin Dauphinois

I have a friend who is obsessed with potatoes. I mean sure, I love potatoes but MB is on the brink of pathological obsession. And when I started this blog I promised I would post about some potato recipes in honour of that obsession – so here is yet another potato-based recipe for you, MB.

Potatoes are fantastic on their own – but combine them with cheese and cream and you’ve got a whole different story. I love potato gratin for the crunchy cheese layer on top and the creamy (and still cheesy!) layers hidden underneath. It gave me great satisfaction to pull this out of the oven to reveal a golden layer of cheese and potato… and suddenly all the pain from grating cheese and slicing potatoes with a knife disappeared.

I’ve tried a couple of different gratin recipes and this is the one that has been most consistently successful with just the right amount of cream and milk to be absorbed by the potatoes in the cooking process. This means that you don’t get a puddle of liquid left at the bottom after you take the layers of potatoes out and instead you have nice creamy sauce to go with the potatoes. Delish!

Gratin Dauphinois (Serves 6)
Recipe adapted from A Little Taste of France by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell

1kg floury potatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
75g grated Gruyère cheese
300mL cream
125mL milk
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 170ºC. Thinly slice the potatoes to about 3-4mm thickness (a mandolin would be extremely helpful, although I managed to do it rather tediously with a knife).

2. Grease an oven dish with butter and layer the potatoes, sprinkling garlic, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper between each layer (remember to leave some cheese for the top). Pour the cream and milk over the layers and top with remaining cheese.

3. Bake for 60 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If the cheese starts to brown too much then cover the dish with foil. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Mamak, Haymarket

Why is it when you can’t have something you just want it even more? This is what happened when I found out that Mamak had closed for renovations, which made me crave the flakiness and puffiness of their freshly made roti more so than usual! Luckily they reopened in July and so off we went to satisfy my roti craving.

We head there around 8.30pm on a Thursday night hoping to avoid the queues and although there was a queue it was relatively short and we are seated within 10 minutes.

While we wait we watch the roti chefs flinging dough around and stretching out til it’s paper thin, then wrapping it up again to make the roti. Then the roti is placed on a hotplate where it puffs up and becomes golden and flaky. Mmm…

Teh tarik: Classic Malaysian sweetened tea, ‘stretched’ for a frothy topping – $3.50

Sir D and I order teh tarik which is frothy and deliciously sweet.

Roti canai: The original roti. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside – $5.00

We order the usual roti canai which isn’t as hot as usual, maybe because they were really busy and didn’t bring it out to us straight away. It hasn’t lost its flakiness though and we dig into this with gusto, dipping it into the curry sauce and spicy sambal.

Kari ayam: Classic chicken curry cooked with freshly ground spices and chunky potatoes – $15.00

Our kari ayam with rice arrives and it’s a big bowl of curry with bits of chicken and potato. I must admit they were a bit stingey on the potato since there were only 3 pieces but that might be just because I love my potato. The curry is not too spicy (even for my low spicyness tolerance tastebuds) but after a while I find myself needing more rice to go with the curry to tone down the heat factor. Sir D remains totally unfazed since he loves spicy food and can take quite a lot of chilli.

Roti tisu: Paper-thin, extra-crispy and served tall – $9.00

And for dessert – more roti! Having seen the fabulous photos on Grab Your Fork and chocolatesuze of the roti tisu with condensed milk, I had to order it. And when it came out we got ice cream and condensed milk – bonus! The paper-thin roti is shaped into a cone with caramelised sugar in between the layers. Sir D and I are actually quite full but the crunchy, sugary roti is so good with the condensed milk that we consume every last flake. And with one single meal at Mamak, my roti craving has finally been satisfied. For now.

15 Goulburn Street
Haymarket NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 92111668
Open 7 days (no reservations)
Lunch: 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm-9.30pm
Supper: Friday and Saturday until 2am
10% surcharge on public holidays

View Larger Map
Mamak on Urbanspoon

Tokyo Ramen, Hornsby

Living quite close to Westfield Hornsby means that it is often a place we go to for a weekend lunch in between shopping for groceries and other things. One of my favourite places to eat in Hornsby would have to be Tokyo Ramen.

On the surface it looks like a normal Asian food stall with fried rice and sweet and sour pork sitting in bain maries, but grab a menu and go inside and you’ll find that they serve various kinds of ramen, udon and Japanese rice bowls. But be warned: it is a small shop which only seats about 20 people max, so you may find yourself having to wait a while on weekends.


Today I’m eating with the family and we are quite lucky only having to wait about 10 minutes for a seat. We aren’t very hungry today so we order three dishes – a plate of gyoza, a yaki udon and a ramen.

Gyoza (5pcs) – $5.00

The gyoza are a great start to lunch with thin, soft dumpling skins giving way to a pork and vegetable filling. Unfortunately they have been sitting in the bain maries so they don’t have that satisfying crunch on the bottoms, but they’re nevertheless very tasty.

Yaki Udon: stir fried udon with meat and vegetables – $10.00

The yaki udon is a mound of stir fried udon noodles topped with chicken pieces, vegies and bonito flakes. It’s a tad oily but gets gobbled up in no time.

Ramen (roast pork, seaweed and egg) – $7.00

The ramen is a gigantic serving of nice and chewy noodles in a large bowl with two tender pieces of roast pork, japanese fishcake, seaweed and a hard boiled egg (hidden under the spoon). It’s also a little oily but it’s very satisfying.

Tokyo Ramen serves yummy Japanese noodles and rice bowls and most of the dishes are under $15 which is great value – and as a result it’s become a regular and local lunch place for me. They also have a sushi stall opposite called Tokyo Sushi, if you’re not in the mood for hot food.

Tokyo Ramen
Shop 1042, Westfield Shopping Centre
236 Pacific Highway
Hornsby NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 99872688

View Larger Map
Tokyo Ramen on Urbanspoon

MUMU Grill, Crows Nest

I am one of those unlucky people who have never won a competition based purely on chance. You know the ones that I’m talking about: raffles, lucky draws, and those ubiquitous “Describe in 25 words or less…” competitions. So boy was I glad to read on Not Quite Nigella that I could get a free lunch at MUMU Grill (up to $35) simply by signing up to their newsletter.

Sir D and I are (very) late risers, and consequently we usually don’t end up eating lunch until about 2pm. Today we arrive at MUMU Grill at about 2.45pm, and although it says that their kitchen closes between 3pm and 5pm, the staff are welcoming and they let us know that we don’t need to hurry. Excellent.

Fresh baked wood fired bread with dips – $6.50

Being food-obsessed, I have of course looked at the menu beforehand and chosen the MUMU Chicken Club from the Express Lunch menu, and Sir D decides on some tapas. We also get some wood fired bread to start (since we are quite hungry) which comes with dips. The fresh-out-of-the-oven bread is soft and dense and is accompanied today by a tomato relish and a white bean and parmesan dip – both of which are delicious. I particularly like the white bean and parmesan which is incredibly smooth and creamy.

Organic chicken liver and mushroom pate with mini toasts – $11.00

We aren’t waiting very long at all before the tapas start arriving. The organic chicken liver and mushroom pate is on the specials menu and comes with toasted pieces of MuMu’s wood fired bread. The serving of toasts looks small relative to the amount of pate given, but the waitress lets us know that we can get extra toasts at any time which is very generous of them. The pate is delicious but quite rich and would probably be better off shared between more than 2 people because Sir D and I have trouble finishing it.

Rabbit, beef and spinach empanadas served with BBQ sauce – $12.00

Next up are the rabbit, beef and spinach empanadas which are also on the specials menu. The pastry is fantastically crunchy and they come with a tangy BBQ sauce.

Chorizo braised in red ale and topped with parmesan – $7.50

The chorizo is served in a cute metal pan on a wooden board and the sausage pieces are juicy and delicious with the salty melted parmesan, although I can’t detect any distinct ‘red ale’ taste.

MUMU Chicken Club: organic chicken, cos lettuce, tomato and pancetta on house made bread with rosemary aioli – $14.90 (lunch only)

My Chicken Club is an enormous sandwich of organic chicken, cos lettuce, tomato and pancetta with rosemary aioli and also comes with a side of chips. By this stage, Sir D and I realise that we have probably ordered too much but we continue to dig into the food with gusto. The chicken club has just the right amount of chicken and vegetables, and the rosemary aioli is a wonderful complement.

When we finally finish all the food we are at the point of carb-overdose (Sir D says, “We probably shouldn’t have ordered that bread at the start…”). But there was something we’d had our eye on from the very start, and that was the brown sugar pavlova.

Brown sugar pavlova topped with fresh pineapple and passionfruit sauce – $13.50

Our “opera house” of a dessert was placed before us and it looked amazing with sails of fresh pineapple and orange rivers of passionfruit sauce. Despite being on the verge of potential explosion, once we tasted it any regrets we had were immediately dispelled because it was incredible. The pavlova was baked to a nice crisp and the sweetness was offset by the tangyness of the pineapple and the passionfruit. Three words: Best. Pavlova. Ever.

Thanks you to Craig Macindoe and MUMU Grill for the free lunch and I will be returning for more amazing food and definitely for more pavlova =D

MUMU Grill
Shop 1, 70-76 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW
Ph: +61 (02) 94606877
Monday – Tuesday, 5.30pm-10pm
Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm-10pm

View Larger Map
Mumu Grill on Urbanspoon