Challenging the ridiculous preconceived ideas of “cheap Chinese take away” food – Taste of Shanghai is definitely a place to visit with family and friends for amazing Chinese cuisine. Under the Taste of Shanghai Group – the Castle Towers Lilong by Taste of Shanghai is one of the two Lilong restaurants in Sydney. The restaurant located in the Piazza of Castle Towers, is one of the smaller new food outlets to open in the Hills area.
Atmosphere/ Ambience of the place
Once you walk in through the doors, you see the amazing decor inspired by Shanghai in the 1900s. Bright neon lights complemented with old prints of fusion Shanghai posters, it is quite beautiful. Next to the entrance is the classic window wall which shows the chefs making the perfectly crafted dumplings – it was definitely a teaser for meal we were to have.
The atmosphere is quite different from what you may expect a premium casual dining experience to be. For my personal taste Lilong was actually on the louder side. I waited with my friend for around 10 minutes to be seating during peak lunch time and was placed in between two other groups with the table slightly apart from one another. I don’t mind noise usually but the volume of the restaurant was a little on the louder side and I struggled to have a comfortable conversation with my friend on the other side of the table. Perhaps it was due to the location of our seat but the waitress struggled to notice us but when they did, the service was very efficient!
Food/ Your Dining experience
My friend and I ordered three dishes using the self-service menu system all Taste of Shanghai restaurants use. We had the Stir Fried Snow Pea Sprout in XO Sauce, the Diced Chicken Fried Rice with XO Sauce and the classic Xiao Long Bao 3pcs. I had visited another Taste of Shanghai and struggled with the saltiness and oiliness of the food – especially the fried rice – but I was pleasantly surprised at the perfect seasoning this restaurant had for all three dishes! My friend and I completely finished all the food and commented on how well the side dishes complimented the main course meals.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Parking is super easy because it is in the Castle Towers shopping centre. The food was honestly quite good and the service was very efficient. We had the opportunity to have a small conversation with the management staff and they were all lovely people who truly cared for their customers. This restaurant is quite unique and has three different seating options. Medium sized groups (around 6) closer to the bar and the kitchen (divided with a glass wall); and smaller tables in the main seating area; and a private room for booking at the back of the restaurant. With bookings made prior to visiting, Lilong has many options for different outings.
Cons: It isn’t a casual dining experience where you can sit down and calmly eat your food. I’m not too sure if other times are this busy – but for us on a weekday lunch break – the restaurant was packed out and was bustling with people. I hope they will begin to use the outdoor seats in the Pizza as well to cater for more people because right now – they can definitely fill-up all the seats. Some staff struggle to understand English and so it may be frustrating for some customers if orders have to be altered.
Overall Experience/ what other people say about this place
The reviews I have read online seem to be quite negative. Yes, the service isn’t what you will find at a fine-dining restaurant, but it was quick and the food we ordered came out fresh and warm. Other than the acoustics of the restaurant, my friend and I definitely enjoyed our dining experience there and would love to return back and try other things on their menu.
Address: shop 2b/5, 6/14 Castle St, Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone: (02) 9659 6163