With a small appetite and two other mouths to feed, we opt for a couple of dumplings and some side dishes instead of going all out like a banquet.
San Cheen Bao is like a steam bun with a meat filling that has been cooked similarly to a wor tip ("dumpling"). So what you get is a crispy bottom and a soft top and when you bite into it, hopefully some of the juices from the filling will spill out. What we got was exactly just that, the way I like it to be.
Unfortunately, the wor tip or the dumplings was a disaster. You are meant to get a crisp bottom and soft top but the whole dumpling was just hard. The dough texture didn't seem right at all.
The xiao long bao was pretty good except for two facts: 1. They expect you to pay extra for ginger slices, a prerequisite for eating xiao long bao and 2. It was not hot enough, almost as if it has been sitting out of the steamer too long.
The stir fry rice cake was good but it was this dish that suddenly got me flashing back to the first time we had Shanghainese food in Brisbane, pretty close isn't? Slightly sweet and savoury, it is definitely a better alternative to eating fried rice, an item that I usually avoid at all cost outside.
With so many side dishes, I finally settled on a stir fry beef with a copious amount of mayonnaise that was unnecessary. With beef slices in a Chinese restaurant, you can half expect them to tenderise it with baking soda or with something else to that effect. The plus point is that the beef almost requires no chewing.
Another staple dish that I associate with Shanghainese cuisine is the drunken chicken. Awhile back I attempted to make the same dish and lets just say it will be a while before you see that recipe in this blog as it failed quite miserably. This on the other hand was cooked to perfection but lacking a sauce and more chinese wine would be appreciated.
The food that night didn't exactly impress although I have heard more positive reviews if you go in the day (a suspicion that the dumplings are made fresh during the day) vs. eating at night. With a clean decor and slightly above average prices, it is still a good option for those who frequent Market Square.
Point to note, this place is opened by the same people as Shangpaign Kitchen so if you find yourself wanting to eat some dumplings without wanting to wait for a table, you can always get very similar food, a 5 minute drive away.
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