It could be because I'm American that I have a special place on my culinary palate for Chinese buffets. I remember going to one when my husband and I first started dating because we were young and didn't have much money; our local Chinese buffet located in one of America's never-ending strip malls was one of our few choices for a filling meal on a dime. Maybe it's that nostalgia or maybe it's the novelty of finding one in Stuttgart that influenced us to check out New Shanghai Restaurant today for lunch.
New Shanghai opened just a little over two months ago. It's situated back among the many office buildings on the industrial side of Feuerbach. Matt had actually already been to New Shanghai on Friday for lunch with his colleagues. He was rather impressed by the quality of the food, so he was more than willing to go back with me again just two days later.
The first thing that struck me about the restaurant was just how nice it is. With the cream-colored benches and chairs, wood dividers, and gold-accented wall features, I felt like I was in a luxury hotel. The light, bright dining area was a far cry from the dark, worn-out buffets that I went to in my youth. The managers were even dressed in suits, and were more than happy to find us a table on such a busy day.
The buffet itself is almost as long as the restaurant. There are four different stations, each with a different set of food. At the far end of the restaurant, there's a station with various raw meats and seafood on ice next to bowls of fresh vegetables and sauces. This is where you can create your own dish and leave it for the chefs to fry up on their teppanyaki grill. It's really quite a neat system, because at each table you get little clips with your table number on them that you can clip them to your plate. That way you can leave your plate with the chef, and when it's ready, a waitress will bring your dish to you at the table.
The next section has all the usual hot buffet foods, including an impressive number of fried foods, along with various sautéed meats and vegetables. Following that is a cold station with salads and sushi, and at the end, of course, is the dessert station.
I started with a heaping plate of hot food that was, in retrospect, probably unnecessarily large but very tasty. I tried the sweet-and-sour chicken, fried crab wantons, fried duck spring rolls, Japanese-style karaage, panko crusted fish, fried crab balls, sautéed veggies and tofu, crispy duck, beef with onions, fried rice, and lo mein.
Everything was hot and tasted fresh, and I was especially impressed by how the fried foods were perfectly crispy without being greasy. The fried duck spring roll was of particular note. The sautéed veggies were also rather nice with a light, but flavorful sauce. I would even venture to say that the sweet-and-sour sauce was made on premises given the high quality. Matt was also especially pleased by the lo mein noodles, which are sometimes hard for us to get ahold of here. The only disappointment for me was the crab ball, which was definitely something similar to red king crab and not my beloved blue crab (I'm a Maryland girl through and through when it comes to seafood).
I quickly jumped up to get another plate before my stomach had time to realize how much food I'd just eaten. This time, I picked up some dumplings which had just come out fresh, a few more pieces of karaage, some seaweed salad, and some sushi from sushi bar. The dumplings were excellent -- salty, meaty, and with a great texture. The sushi, on the other hand, was just okay. The fish was a decent quality for Germany and much better than most buffet sushi that I've had, but I found the salmon lacked the rich flavor that you get from fresh salmon. I don't usually go to Chinese buffets for the sushi, though, so I wasn't that disappointed by it.
By this point I'd struggled to finish what I had on my plate, and had to leave the fluffy white rice I'd gotten and ask Matt to take a piece of nigiri. I think my stomach must have shrunk down a bit through lack of practice with Chinese buffets after all these years. Of course, that didn't stop me from getting something sweet.
For dessert, I decided to forgo the ice cream and instead chose to get a couple of lychees (which I love!), a cream puff, a slice of chocolate-covered banana, pudding, and crème brûlée. The lychees came from a can, of course, but they were still good, along with the fresh banana and cream puff. The pudding reminded me a bit too much of those Jello pudding cups that I used to get as a kid, and I didn't really enjoy mine much (though I've never been a big pudding person to be honest). The crème brûlée, on the other hand, was really good for a buffet and clearly made in-house.
Our meal ended up costing 18,50€, which wasn't as inexpensive as we expected (Sunday counts as an all-day dinner buffet and you pay more at dinner for the teppanyaki option), but still worth it for three plates of food and the fact that I haven't been hungry enough to eat dinner this evening. Normally the lunch buffet, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 to 14:30 is just 12€ per person plus drinks. Children 10 and under are half price, and children aged 3 and under are free.
We saw lots of families there, so it seems like a popular choice for an inexpensive family meal. There were also plenty of vegetarian options on the buffet, which I imagine makes it a great place to bring a diverse group of eaters. Most of the reviews I've seen on their Facebook page have been rather positive, and if the crowd today was any indication, it seems like they're doing well for a new business.
Of course I was absolutely stuffed by the end of our meal. Luckily, Rosensteinpark is close by, and so we were able to take a nice Sunday walk to help alleviate some of our uncomfortability. The restaurant is located at the end of Maybachstraße, about a five minute (or less walk) from the U-bahn station of the same name. You can easily get there on the U6 or U13 lines.
Have you been to New Shanghai? What did you think of the food?