I get excited when it’s my birthday because it’s the one day I can run around singing to 50 cent In Da Club – “go shawty, it’s your birthday, we gonna party like it’s your birthday” with no shame. But wait there’s more! It’s also because I get to go and eat my heart out with my friends and family. I took this opportunity to try Lynn’s Shanghai Cuisine with my family and since my Grandma’s heritage is from Shanghai, when it comes to Shanghainese cuisine, she’s a tough critic.
Located in the heart of Sydney CBD on the Ground floor of The Castlereagh Club, we were warmly greeted by Teresa, who manages the front of house for the restaurant. Her husband Dennis manages the kitchen and together they own Lynn Shanghai Cuisine. They serve a few of my favourite dishes which not many restaurants attempt to do (look out for the LYNN next to the dishes as that is their speciality). Upon entering the restaurant, there are big glass windows which you can see into the kitchen and see the chefs wrapping up dumplings.
We were captivated by this dish from the picture on the menu and being a Lynn special we had to try it. How do they do cucumber rolls I wonder? The dish was not done in the black chinese vinegar but pickled with white vinegar and garlic. The cucumber was sliced thinly into ribbons and rolled delicately. Very cute presentation!
The waiter informed us that the soup would cater for 2 people but when it arrived it actually catered for 4! The hot and sour soup had a lot of filling of wood ear fungus, shredded chicken and bamboo shoots. The soup had plenty of sour and I would have preferred it more hot but that’s just me as I quite like spicy foods.
I like to make this dish at home with left over roast chicken. The bean jelly is just mung bean thread noodles. They are particularly good in salads as they have a springy/chewy texture and I often put them in noodle soups at home as they have more of a bite to it than regular noodles. This serving size of this appetizer is generous and it is smothered in peanut sauce. My Grandma would make a version of this dish for summer time and add in shredded omelette, black vinegar and chili.
Dumplings! What makes a good dumpling? The dough for the pastry must be thin but thick enough to hold the filling. The filling must have not too fatty meat and should have natural juices coming out of it.
Remember how I mentioned I like spicy foods? Be prepared for the next 2 dishes. I was expecting the shrimp and prawn wonton to be these little miniature sized wontons but it came out almost bigger than the dumplings itself. There was plenty of shrimp inside the wonton and it had a good dollop of chili sauce.
Dan Dan noodle soup is my brother’s fave, he too loves to eat a lot chili with his noodles. Lynn’s version of Dan Dan noodles did not come with a lot of soup and was served like a stir noodle style with the peanuts adding a nice textural element to the dish. I made the mistake of adding more chili sauce without testing the hotness of the dish.
This is my first favourite dish of the night and it’s another Lynn special. I usually find some restaurant’s servings of pan-fried pork buns too oily as you need a fair bit of oil to ensure the crispness of the bottom of the bun. Also some restaurant’s bun is too bready and you become full after eating the 1 bun. At Lynn’s however, there was no sign of oil on the outside, very crispy and crunchy bottom and juicy, soupy filling on the inside. We were warned to be careful in biting into the buns as the juices would stream out. I proceeded with caution and bit in slowly but in the back of mind I thought there should be no juices, I’ve eaten plenty of these in my lifetime. Boy was I wrong! We had some buns left over and took it home. Mr Dough ate it a few days later and he heated it back up in the grill. To his surprise, when he bit into there was still juices coming out. I would have thought any juices would have been soaked into the bun already!!
I’ve been waiting all night to try this dish, Nanjing crispy duck. This is not to be confused with Peking duck. Nanjing crispy duck is duck coated in 5 spices, steamed and then deep-fried (usually by just pouring hot oil over the skin) until crispy. You end up with really tender pieces of duck with a crispy, salty coating. The duck is traditionally served with steamed buns. Held between silky, soft, steamed buns, there was no hint of oilness and there was minimal fat between the skin and the meat.
I’ve been eating the next dish ever since I was little and not many places serve this dish. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t have the expertise to make the little sesame pockets. The baked sesame pockets are another one of Lynn’s recommended dishes and they make the pockets in-house themselves. I think it’s hard to get the balance of cripsy outer shell and layers of fluffy like pastry on the inside. The meat filling is minced chicken with preserved vegetables and you eat this dish by stuffing the meat into the little pockets.
I, once again ordered waaaaay too much food and had to take it away.I asked my Grandma what she thought of the meal and she nodded and gave her tick of approval! Great! I can come back and try the other Lynn recommended dishes.
Lynn Shanghai Cuisine
199 Castlereagh St
Sydney, NSW 2000
T: 02 9267 7780
Open: Monday – Saturday 11am – 9:30pm