Monday, 14 May 2012

The new Scholar in town

To celebrate my first communion as a kid my parents took me to yum cha at the New Shanghai restaurant in Dickson.  I vividly remember the craziness, the hustle and bustle.  The restaurant was abuzz with conversation, clattering plates, the clink of porcelain against porcelain as another Chinese tea was poured, the swoosh of fabric as another table cloth was swept away making room for the next lot of customers.  I remember the white silk dress I wore, with the gauzy overlay with bright orange and brown flowers embroidered on the front.

It was overwhelming.  And ever since I have had a love affair with yum cha.  There's something special about the perfectly portioned mouthful sized delicacies, served in their bamboo steamers and rolled around the restaurant in those tinny little trollies.

Those of you who know me and my family well have most likely been dragged to a yum cha lunch or two...

If you've been to yum cha this will be a familiar sight!

Then, it would be several years ago now, quite unceremoniously the New Shanghai closed.  I've heard the stories: standards were on the slide, cockroaches were served.  This does not stop the event from being devastating.  Subsequent to its closing there was a long drought of good yum cha in Canberra, this has since been rectified by the opening of the Dumpling Inn in Jamison, but that is another story for another day.

But there's a new kid in town - there is literally a new New Shanghai: The Scholar Chinese, which is located at the top of the same flight of stairs I've traveled up so many time before.  Having learned that an old friend had returned, I took my family there to suss it out for mother's day.  Not a lot has changed - a few walls have moved, a lick of paint has been applied, a general coat of clean - but beneath the new spick and span shine you can tell: it's the same old New Shanghai.

Still impressively busy, with a huge turn over of customers, and a line building up at the top of the stairs, there was really no need to make a reservation (after turning up it would not take long for a table to free up).  There's the same buzz, and despite how busy it was the staff seem to move languidly and, well, a tad lazily.  But it was still fun and tasty.  There's a vast array of food on offer from crispy sticky rice dumplings filled with pork, delicately slippery noodles with prawn and drizzly simple soy sauce dressing, to all the usual suspects like steam dim sim, wontons, chicken feet and duck.  Thankfully, given how busy it was, all of the food was fresh and steaming hot.

But the big question is, is it as good as its predecessor, or even its contemporaries?  I would have to say no.  Dumpling Inn offers better quality, service and atmosphere, and while much of it seems the same as the old New Shanghai, the Scholar does not seem to live up to my memories, but some things never do.

What is it? The Scholar Chinese restaurant
Where is it? 23 Woolley Street, Dickson
How to contact them? 02 6257 8323

The Scholar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. My fave in Canberra has to be Noble Palace! I've tried Scholar a few times. Very hit and miss. Love you went to Yum Cha after first communion though!