Shop 201, Rhodes Central
Level 1/14 Walker St
Rhodes, NSW 2138
Lilong by Taste of Shanghai is a part of a restaurant chain, and its prices are significantly higher than what you’d expect to pay for a casual Chinese meal. Usually, those things would be a death knell, but it’s actually not hard to see why Lilong has done so well for itself. It’s got the balance just right between authentic and white-washed, comfortable but not too fancy, and prices just high enough to imply quality without too much of a compromise on value. And of course, the food is well more than decent. It’s not the kind of place I would usually be into, but funnily enough, it’s actually become something of a regular haunt. The broad menu helps; it covers most cravings without overstretching itself. Though it’s never the best experience ever, I’ve yet to have a meal there I didn’t enjoy.
Rating: 13/20 – surprising regular.
Hot tip: avoid the less traditionally Shanghainese dishes; those tend to fall a little flat.
The signature Pan Fried Pork Buns ($12.8, 8pcs) are a mega winner, and as good as any I’ve ever had. Fluffy buns, golden caramelised bottoms, and juicy, meat centres. Dunk them in the black vinegar and be careful not to burn your mouth!
The Pork and Vegetable Wonton Soup ($12, 10pcs) were pretty decent too, huge slippery parcels floating in a cleansing broth.
The Sichuan Style Dan Dan Noodle Soup with Pork Mince ($14.8) however I would not recommend. Sichuan cuisine and Shanghai cuisine are about as different as they come, and these ended up being rather bland. Not that they were bad in any sense of the word; they just weren’t very authentic.
Instead, go with a traditional Shanghainese Salted Pork and Bamboo Shoot Soup ($24.8). This clear, restorative soup may have been light, but it was nonetheless just that little bit indulgent with the smoky, meaty aroma imparted from the generous chunks of smoked pork.
The Double Fried Green Beans ($20.8) was another classic Sichuan dish whose execution was just ok. The beans themselves were slightly short on the wok hei that you get from cooking in a screaming-hot pan, and the use of black beans instead of a spicy chilli-garlic mix took away some of the oomph. Still, good enough for me to spoon up the dregs to eat on top of my Rice ($2/bowl, $6/bucket)
The Layered Cake with Jujube Paste ($8.8, 4pcs) may be part of the dim sum menu and not the dessert, but it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something lighter and less sweet to end your meal with (I’m looking at you, mum!). Super fluffy and layered with floral-sweet jujube paste, this is a moreish snack that won’t leave you feeling weighed down.