Shop 20B, Market Square, Sunnybank
Almost all my posts are now starting with 'a couple of weeks ago...' because I'm so slow with writing that that's my approximate delay. In any case, it was indeed a couple of weeks ago when I was at my cousin Mork's house when he told me there was a new Shanghainese restaurant in Market Square.
Mork works in Market Square so he's great for keeping me up to date. After getting all excited about the news, he told me it was 'meh'. I lost faith for a second but when I prompted him to reveal why it was meh, he said the dumplings had too much 'water' in them.
I didn't really know what to say because as I've mentioned numerous times on this blog, the Shanghainese pride themselves of being able to incorporate 'soup/broth' into their dumplings and buns. Indeed, if a dumpling is dry on the inside, it is poor, poor quality. And yet here was Mork thinking it was a flaw.
My parents and I went to check it out ourselves last weekend.
Taste Gallery is located where Coco's Fruit Market used to be. It is quite a big restaurant. It's more formal than those small Asian fast food eateries but more casual than say, Landmark. When we went, it was bustling.
We were told to wait 15min for a table and we were glad to do that to get in on the action. They have a big display window area at the front where the pastry kitchen is in rapid action, creating all the buns. After a mere 5min, we were told a table was ready. Horray!
Detective dad looked at the menu briefly and worked out that it must be from the same people who did Shangpaign Kitchen. Mum flagged down one of the waitresses and we were told that his intuition was bang on. Dad sat there gloating.
We ordered a few of their signature buns and some small dishes on the side. Mum and dad frequently burst out with comments of 'this used to be $x at the other shop' indicating that the prices were higher. Parents like to do this type of thing (well, mine anyway).
The salted duck arrived first. It was a tiny portion but we were starving and keen to dig in. My dad makes salted duck (one of his signature dishes in fact) so we kept comparing to his. The one from Taste Gallery is actually very good. The salty, Chinese spice mix flavor had penetrated throughout the flesh of the duck but it also wasn't too salty. The other thing we look for is that the flesh is firm, not soft from being overcooked.
Next came the fried rice. My dad has a thing for ordering fried rice at Chinese restaurants because his theory is that if white rice is paid for per head, if you have 3 people or more, a plate of more flavorsome fried rice is only a bit more.
The fried rice was very plain and simple but I thought it was cooked out well. It didn't taste oily at all and the grains were very separated. It was a good fried rice to eat with other dishes because there weren't any overpowering elements.
Colored little dragon buns
After a wait, Taste Gallery's signature colored little dragon buns arrived. Dad warned me not to order this and I knew myself that it would be gimmicky but because it was their specialty, I had to try. Basically, they're little dragon buns with colored wrappers that have been infused with other flavors: pumpkin, spinach etc.
Mum reckons she could taste spinach in her wrapper and she thought 'cool'. I tried the purple one and didn't know what it was supposed to taste like but it tasted normal to me. Byron picked up the orange one and thought the same thing. They were nice but I'd stick to the originals.
Little dragon buns
Our serve of original little dragon buns arrived not long after. The wrappers were much thinner than from Spicy Fish Restaurant in Melbourne, which is a good thing.
Inside of little dragon buns
There was definitely soup inside and I think of that as a good thing. My critique is actually that there wasn't enough soup. I like them really juicy.
Pan-fried pork buns
We also ordered a serve of pan-fried buns. They took FOREVER to come out. We waited and waited. Dad chased them up and nothing happened. Another wait occurred and we chased again. Finally the plate was brought out.
Bite shot of pan-fried bun
Mum and dad feel like the buns are smaller than they were from Shangpaign Kitchen. I couldn't really detect that. I thought they were as tasty as ever. Byron preferred the dragon buns.
Bamboo and preserved meat soup
Because it's Winter, we also ordered a big bowl of Shanghai-style soup. It's got a special name in Shanghainese and dad says it means fresh meat cooked with salted meat. And that's basically what's in it. There are also bean curd skins tied in knots and chunks of bamboo. In Shanghai, my grandma makes this soup all the time through Winter/Spring, when bamboo is in season. I help her tie the knots for it :). This is a really simple soup but it's comforting. Mum and dad liked it.
I think Taste Gallery is a great new addition to Market Square. I like the selection of dishes we ordered. They make good dumplings and buns. The food we ordered this time was homely and simple but done well. The time it took for the fried buns to come was disappointing. We were even thinking of ordering more but didn't want to b stuck waiting again. It's a shame because other than that, I thought the service was quite efficient.