In the past week I have eaten the very well known Chinese Xiao Long Bao’ or Shanghai dumplings, twice and both were handmade in-house served steaming hot in their bamboo container. The bouncy buns were full of tasty pork mince and hot soup. This has to be my favourite dumpling; coming in close is the wonton. Good wontons are so few and far between unless you’re in Hong Kong. But Shanghai dumplings are pretty spot on when made with skill and love.
The first lot I ate them at was at a place called Hutong Dumpling House in Chinatown Melbourne. You may have seen my dumpling on Instagram, but yeah they were pretty darn good especially with the vinegar and a splash of chilli sauce. Mmmmmm!
Today we took my Dad out for a cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant in Kingsford after his weekly Sunday soccer match. He tells me he has eaten at quite a few joints around the Kingsford area and knows a few of the owners but his favourite is this one. The name is hilarious hey?!
There were only three of us and it was pretty busy on ground floor at lunchtime so we headed upstairs to the minimally decked out restaurant. At the back you can see the dumpling and noodle making area. I wanted to take a pic but there was no one there as we were leaving!
In typical Asian cheap eating style the place isn’t the cleanest, the spoons are plastic and they have wooden disposable chopsticks. I scan the menu with its bright photos of each dish and we decided to have the following.
Xiao Long Bao - you get half a dozen in each serve in the bamboo steamers. Compared to the ones at Hutong they were pretty much the same. The dumpling skin was slightly thicker here. There was a bit more soup in these ones too which makes you really carefully lift them up from the paper hoping it doesn't burst before you get it to your bowl. I douse them in vinegar and chilli once again and enjoy every moment of it. Only had two this time. I think I will be back as they are so cheap! I think it was $5 for the 6?! Should pay more attention next time but I was hung-over and really wanted to just eat. 8/10
Hot and Sour Soup - This came in a rather K-mart looking bowl which made me giggle a bit, would’ve been much more fitting in a Chinese ceramic bowl. It was a big serve; maybe we had two little bowls each from it. It was thick with strips of tofu, black fungus, pork and bamboo shoots. I hate bamboo shoots. I pick them out. There was so much pepper in it and I was questioning where the sourness was coming from as other hot and sour soups I’ve had have a reddy tinge to them. It was super hot and spicy! Very nice if you like hot things. 7/10
Drunken chicken – I love this dish as it is cold and is different to all the other sizzling meat and stir-fry dishes. It’s soaked in wine and has a distinct but subtle flavour to it. The skin isn’t too fatty either which is good. I hate fatty chicken skin! 8/10
Shanghai noodles with pork – This is a typical noodle dish with bits of pork and greens. Nice soy and garlic flavour. Again better with some chilli sauce. 7/10
Sizzling Szechuan Beef – This was my husband’s pick and it was pretty good although they didn’t put the beef on the hot plate in front of you. I like it when they do that where the loudness of the sizzle makes people look at what you have. The dish was scattered with whole dried red chillies and chunks of onion, capsicum and decent sized bits of beef. The beef was pretty tender and the sauce had a little sweetness to it, which worked well with the heat of the chillies. You get a free bowl of rice with any main. 6.5/10
I was pretty stuffed after this and had some hot tea to wash it all down. By the time we were finishing up a whole bunch of students came in and the room was getting loud. Oh well not to worry we don’t like to hang around after a meal anyway. We just eat, pay the bill and go with a very satisfied feeling as we had some yummy food for a mere $35.50! The service was fine, and not even worth a mention as this is type of place where it's all about the food not the service.
I would definitely give this place a go for some of the Shanghai dumplings if you don’t want to head into town to Din Tai Fung or Chinatown. You would be guaranteed to save few dollars for pretty much the same tasting food.