AU ABROAD

Taste of Shanghai - World Square (Sydney)

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The various branches of Taste of Shanghai around Sydney are consistently sticking to the standard of inexpensive, good quality Shanghai cuisine, but also bringing in influences from various other Chinese cuisines to offer a comprehensive, share-focused dining experience. Their newest outlet is on the ground floor of World Square, adding greatly to the improved dining options at the central Sydney hub, and bringing the brand its first CBD location.

One of the most striking features about Taste of Shanghai is the scale of what's on offer; there are over 100 options across the magazine-style menu, accompanied by a focused list of Australian and New Zealand wines, soft, drinks, and signature drinks (citron tea, iced milk tea, mango frappe, and more). Surprisingly, there are only two types of beer on offer here: Tsing Tao (of course), and Crown Lager.

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You can pick up a really satisfying feed here for less than $20, but being as there are so many options, going as a group and ordering a table-space worth of food seems like a better idea, and that's exactly what I did on my recent visit to the packed-out restaurant.

Note: the lower price of each food item is for members of the restaurant

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The Pan Fried Pork Buns ($10.80/$9.72; 8 pieces) (headline image) are amongst the 'the four best buys' on the menu, narrowing the necessities down for those who feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options (there are clear images of most dishes on the menu, which helps). These sizable buns have a whole heap of juicy pork inside, (very) hot and fresh with crisped shells; don't bite into them straight away though, you will burn your tongue. These are best served up with the other 'four best buys', including Xiao Long Bao ($10.80/$9.72; 8 pieces), Pork and Chive Dumplings ($10.80/$9.72; 12 pieces), and Wonton in Red Chilli Oil Sauce ($10.80/$9.72); 10 pieces). The nice and large plate of wontons need a stronger, more intense flavoured sauce but the hit of chilli is quite powerful, but all four speak well for the food on offer here.

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If in a group then a vital order is a surprisingly massive bowl of Braised Pork Belly with Quail Eggs ($24.80/$22.32), easily one of the best things here. The tender, gelatanous pieces of pork belly are plentiful, small enough for just one or two bites each, with a consistent flavour throughout the bowl, helped along by the rich quail eggs.

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A plate of Steamed Pork Buns with Crab Meat ($13.80/$12.42; 8 pieces) goes own a treat with all of the above, piping hot and filled with sweet strings of soft crab meat. Nanjang style salty duck ($10.80/$9.72) should accompany any feast here, with the more rustic street-style eats where the kitchen at Taste of Shanghai excels. It's also worth having some Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables ($15.80/$14.22) and some Kung Pao Chicken with Chilli Sauce and Peanuts ($18.80/$16.92) on the table.

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Of course, with over 100 dishes on the menu you're going to have to take a few suggestions here and there as not everything here satisfies. For example, the pancakes and bao-like 'golden buns' you order up with various meats like Peking Duck lack flavour, so you're best off sticking to the dim sim, cold appetisers, and meats without the likes of springs rolls and pancakes; the noodle and rice dishes also seem to be fairly average, consider the few my guest and I had stomach space for. Still, you could barely even scratch the surface of the offerings here in just one or two visits.

The essential orders are definitely 'the four best buys' as well as that massive bowl of braised pork belly with quail eggs.

Taste of Shanghai does well to offer a one-stop shop for Chinese cuisine, whether you're after hot pot or dumplings; with the latter being especially worthwhile. It may take some careful choices to ensure you get the most out of a full meal here, but what Taste of Shanghai lacks in consistency, it makes up for with options. There is more than enough here to justify repeat visits, especially now that it's nice and close to the CBD.

Taste of Shanghai

Address: 644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9261 8832
Website: http://www.tosau.com.au/