By Kupluthai Pungkanon
The Sunday Nation
HONG KONG restaurant Wang Jia Sha has been a magnet for local and visiting diners hungering for its xiao long bao – the Shanghai-style steamed dumpling filled with minced pork or crab.
Now there’s a Wang Jia Sha in Bangkok, at Siam Paragon, that offers the same menu of exciting Shanghai cuisine and a refreshing take on traditional family meals at big tables.
Shanghai was the location of the original Wang Jia Sha, which opened in 1945 and was soon dubbed by the China Cuisine Association “Master of Shanghai dim sum”. That accolade was specifically earned by its xiao long bao.
Wang Jia Sha, the newest restaurant at Siam Paragon, is as stylish as Shanghai, city of its birth.
The Hong Kong outlet opened in 2002, managed by the Gaia Group that in the course of two decades has developed a portfolio of 34 restaurants, including Bangkok’s own Greyhound Cafe, which opened a branch in Hong Kong in 2011.
The group has now reached out to Thailand with two restaurants – Wang Jia Sha and the Townhouse – both at Siam Paragon.
There are more than 100 choices on the menu at Wang Jia Sha. The huge selection of appetisers includes Drunken Chicken (Bt250), with the free-range bird marinated in aged Hua Diao wine, kept in the fridge overnight and served chilled, sweet and redolent with an enticing aroma. The texture is wonderful and the flavours rich and deep.
Preserved egg with sliced bean curd
Other appealing starters are Preserved Egg with Sliced Bean Curd (Bt130), Deep-fried Vegetarian Spring Roll in oyster sauce (Bt190) and Beef Offal, Beef Shin, Chinese Fungus, Lettuce Salad and Sesame Sauce (Bt180) and Red Jelly Fish, Spring Onion with sesame sauce (Bt150).
Xiao Long Bao
The dumplings, led by Xiao Long Bao (Bt150 with pork and Bt220 with crab), are individually made by hand each day. Steaming them produces a juicy “soup” inside that bursts delightfully in the mouth when you bite into the dumpling. Bamboo baskets each carry five hot dumplings.
Pan-fried Soft Buns, Minced Pork, crunchy Pan-fried Pork Dumplings (both Bt150) and the not-to-be-missed Steamed Bun, Custard Lava (Bt95) are other excellent choices.
The dim sum can get very artful. The photogenic swan-shaped Taro-filled Pastry with Black Truffle (Bt95) looks as mouth-watering as it really is when its picture is posted on Facebook or Instagram, but then your friends are missing the delicate scent of the black truffle.
Swan-shaped blacktruffle pastry
Just as lovely is the pear-shaped Deep-fried Dumpling, Mixed Meat and Mushroom (Bt95). Make sure to order Shanghainese Sticky Rice on the side – it has both salty and sweet flavours.
Another signature dish here is Tan Tan Noodles with Iberico Pork Chop (Bt150), but the creaminess and sesame and peanut-broth elements tend to make it a bit greasy, regardless of the spices added.
Abalone stone-pot rice
Much more preferable is Abalone Stone-pot Rice (Bt360), served hot and topped with a scallop.
Hong Kong people adore fresh-cooked seafood, and at Wang Jia Sha the best of the best are the crispy Pan-fried Small Yellow Croaker, Spiced Salt (Bt240) and Sauteed River Shrimp (Bt320). The sweet-and-sour Fried Mandarin Fish, Tomato Sauce (Bt490) is very nice too.
Sauteed pork ribs sweetened with plums
Among the main courses, Sauteed Pork Spare Ribs, Preserved Plum, Sweet Sauce (Bt240) is a standout, with the taste of the preserved plum rendering not just delectable sweetness but also a beautiful aroma.
Frying vegetables is easy enough but not so easy to pull off properly. Wok-fried String Beans, Minced Pork (Bt220) is magic – exactly the right amounts of crispness and taste.
Traditional Pastry with Red-bean Paste Filling (Bt160) is rather filling and a bit too sweet, but quite a nice choice, too.
In terms of ambience, Wang Jia Sha at the Bangkok mall isn’t as bustling as its Hong Kong cousin, but it’s truly attractive with high ceiling and spaciousness. The food presentation is similar in both locations and the food is delicious for the most part, even if there’s some room for improvement locally.
TRY THE RIBS!
Wang Jia Sha is on the ground floor of Siam Paragon and opens daily from 10am to 9pm.
Reserve a table at (02) 129 4661.