Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The best thing about being Chinese is the fact that everything is a massive affair and the best thing about Chinese cuisine is that it encourages communal dining -the more people you have at dinner, the more food you get to try. Lucky for me, my parents had invited some family friends out for dinner at one of my favourite Shanghai style restaurants in Auckland to celebrate the fact that I found a job!

Logic, along with my big appetite, tells me that the presence of 15 people equates to 15 dishes. At least.

Only in Chinese restaurants would you get Pocohontas on TV
ShiKuMen is so popular that dinner is separated into two sessions to accommodate everyone that wants to dine there. Despite this, the restaurant is crowded, busy and full of noise. We also turn on the television that is provided in our private booth and, to my surprise, Pocohontas is on! I am told that this TV is usually used for Kareoke. Awesome.

Drunken Chicken -$8.80
 We start off with a variety of cold dishes while we wait for our mains and they arrive almost immediately. As well as being one of my favourite cold dishes, the drunken chicken one of Shanghai's best. After being steamed and chopped into pieces, the chicken is marinated overnight in a bowl of hard liquor (in this case, Shaoxing wine). Can you blame me for liking it so much? The meat is soft, tender and fully infused with the drunken goodness.

Cured Fish with Soy -$10.80
Chinese Five Spiced Beef -$12.80

Kao fu with Golden Lily Mushrooms -$8.80
The cured fish is a favourite of my seafood loving father's. The soy flavour fully penetrates the fish fillets and has the texture of beef jerky. The beef is beautifully flavoured a subtle hint of five spice that doesn't show through until the second bite. Although the sauce is pleasant, Kao fu, or wheat gluten, is not something I like. It is porous and chewy and has soaked too much oil which has made the dish a little sickly so I stick to the black mushroom accompaniment which has the flavour without the oiliness.

Deep Fried Blue Cod -$28.80
Deep fried blue cod is more commonly known in China as "Song Shu Yu" -or Sweet and Sour Squirrel Shaped Fish. The blue cod is first steamed, then deep fried and covered with a sweet and sour sauce and preserved Chinese vegetables. The cuts in the fish make the fish fan out when deep fried which gives it a cool pine cone look (the squirrel bit). The sauce is a bit too sweet for me but, beside me, Jason gobbles it all up and goes for seconds.

Deep Fried Shrimps Coated with Duck Egg Yolk -$26.80
No, the above aren't Twisties. They're infinitely better. The prawns are cooked perfectly with a light, salty egg yolk coating while still managing to keep the prawns plump and juicy. Perfect.

Sizzling Oriental Style Beef with Chinese Buns -$24.80
This is how we do it
 We smell this dish before it even arrives and I immediately start salivating. The beef arrives on a sizzling plate surrounded with nice, fluffy steamed buns. The addition of cumin and coriander added a whole new depth of flavour to the usual soy and sweet and were especially tasty when wrapped in the buns. Unfortunately, they were a little dry and were probably heated up in the microwave rather than steamed.

Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork -$16.80
I come from a family where restaurant style sweet and sour pork is considered "white people food" -something that is much too doughy and on the menu only to fool the inexperienced diner. However, we do make an exception for Shanghai style pork in a light, sour glaze. Note how the pork is deep red in colour -none of that freaky fluorescent red colour for us! The sauce is sweet and sticky and has minimal batter but manages to stay extra crispy.

Tofu Sheets with Edamame and Preserved Vegetables -$15.80
Stir Fried Vegetables with Baby Bamboo Pieces -$16.80
Dry Fried Green Beans -$15.80
As I've mentioned before, it'd be very hard for vegetarians to survive in China as 80% of all meals consist of meat and vegetables are only ordered as an after thought. Today, however, we decide to be adventurous and order THREE vegetable dishes (rather than our usual one) and, I have to say, I wish we only ordered one. The tofu sheets soaked up too much salt and ended up being quite unpleasant to eat while the only good thing about the mystery vegetable dish was the baby bamboo pieces. I love my baby bamboo. Our dry fried green beans weren't really dry or charcol-ly as I would prefer, but they were easily the best.

Fragrant and Spicy Pork Intestine Casserole -$18.80
Unfortunately I was quite full by the time the casserole arrived but Jason assures me that it tastes amazing. The best thing about it was that it came on a gas cooker which kept it piping hot throughout the whole meal.

Deep Fried Chicken in a Red Soya Bean Sauce -$16.80
Chicken and Wonton Soup -$22.80
Even though I was full, I manage to stuff down as much deep fried chicken and wonton soup as I can -after all, my dessert belly isn't being filled. The chicken soup is hearty and the wontons are very generous in size. The red soy bean coated chicken reminds me of the rose fermented tofu sauce my mother makes and boy, is it delicious! The sauce is a perfect combination of sweet, salty and bitterness to compliment the lightly fried chicken pieces.

ShiKuMen can be found at 307 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. Be sure to book though, it's pretty popular and you may have to eat in sessions. Don't worry though, 2.5  hours is plenty =)

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  1. OohI'm so glad I'm going out for dinner soon as I just got a burst of hunger after seeing those pics! And the cod is really different! I've never seen it cooked like that!

  2. Wow what a feast! I'd love to have a Chinese best friend who could steer me in the right direction at Chinese restaurants. I love the look of the dry fried beans. Give me a plate of that and I'll be happy.

  3. I love the look of the sizzling beef with buns. I really fond of all the cold cuts too, but unfortunately my other half isn't, so I miss out on those a lot.

  4. I didn't know this restaurant, thank you for the tip. I like the look of the Tofu Sheets with Edamame and Preserved Vegetables!


  5. Oh wow... thank you for sharing!!! Now I'm SUPER hungry! :-) This restaurant looks like a pretty good restaurant from food you were eating... yum! It's true, more people, more food to try!

  6. Oh this looks amazing! Except fo the Kao fu. Kao fu = evil!

  7. Hi Lucy,
    Nice article.
    Do you know any restaurant in Auckland that serve mushu chicken?

  8. Great Article!
    I have uploaded one of your photos to the World Food Guide website