Not a book of memoirs from a mainland northerner nor the next Jackie Chan action thriller (although it does sound like a Wong Kar Wai movie) but the name of a Shanghai themed yum cha restaurant just opened in Chatswood's new community precinct called The Concourse!
Thematically the fitout and the menu is sort of East-West fusion celebrating that brief period in history when Shanghai was the most western looking city in China and was known as "The Paris of the East". You have the standard yum cha items such as har gow or named on this menu as Crystal King Prawns, xiao long bau, shallot (green onion) pancakes, jellyfish salad and cubes of deep fried tofu with fried shredded stuff on top called Sandy Tofu (have to investigate this one next time I'm there).
No rice noodle rolls, mango pancakes or phoenix claws (chicken feet) of the typical Cantonese yum cha though. Instead we have turnip dumplings, handmade noodles with a spicy sauce, mocktails, fruit frappes and espresso coffee. The menu reminds me strongly of Din Tai Fung down to the ordering system of ticking off the number of items you want on a pre-printed order form.
The watermelon frappe tasted like it was just sweet melon flesh and ice churned together and was pricey at $6.80 but I liked the purity of the flavour and no added sugars.
The Xiao Long Bau were just as good as the Din Tai Fung ones and the skin just as thin, but a little less gingery in flavour and not as savoury. A little saucer of black vinegar was put on the table but no plate of slivered ginger, chilli or soy sauce was offered. $6.80
The prawn dumplings look a little lumpy and unrefined but that's because they contained huge chunks of prawn so fresh and undisguised with fillers and flavourings that the true flavour of the prawn comes through beautifully. They're the freshest prawn dumplings I've tried in a long time and worth the $7.80!
Have to say this isn't my favourite green onion pancake, they're a little greasy and the dough is a bit gummy rather than flakey and not enough salt on the onion. $5.80
This is coconut jelly and pawpaw, an interesting combination of flavours and pretty to look at except for the parsley sprigs on either side of the plate which didn't make sense to me so I removed them! The jelly is a lot thicker and creamier than you normally get in a yum cha restaurant but makes a refreshing end to the meal. I didn't eat these at the restaurant but when I saw them on the menu, I couldn't resist ordering...
Steamed Panda Buns containing a sweet bean paste. Something to rival Chefs Gallery's famous Piggy Buns? Perhaps not but the kiddies will love them!
There were a couple of other things on the menu I would love to explore later on, the Toffee Apple Shanghai style (the photo was a whole apple covered in a red sauce!), their version of a sago pudding and pork crackling served with osthmanthus jelly on a pancake Peking duck style!
They even have a Shanghai style high tea for about $30 per person. The restaurant appears to have a second level which I didn't explore but the outdoor eating area looks onto the central courtyard of the Concourse and is a pleasant space for families with children. I think the rest of the menu is worth exploring and will certainly return to try it.