Dumplings are a subject close to every Melburnians heart. I love a quick lunchtime hit of dumplings or even an evening meal with friends at a BYO place. There are of course plenty of different opinions on where to get the best dumplings but these three are my current favourites. I’m sure there are some swanky places which do great fine dining dumplings but here I’m talking about the crowd pleasing restaurants with gruff service and cheap and cheerful options.
ShangDong Ma Ma
The newcomer on the Melbourne dumpling scene is ShanDong Ma Ma which is promisingly housed in a scruffy shopping centre arcade just off Bourke street. I first discovered this place via Joyce of Mel: Hot or Not whose Chinese parents rate it as their favourite in Melbourne. High praise indeed. The pick of the dumplings here are the ‘Melbourne’ dumplings ($13.80 for 12) which are supposed to be inspired by the multicultural nature of Melbourne. What this actually means is the dumplings include a mix of Eastern and western flavours with prawn, calamari and chicken mince, lemon rind, olive oil and garlic all making up the dumpling mix. This sounds like a bit of a recipe for disaster but the flavour combination really works and the hot little dumplings were filling while still light with a medium thick skin.
Hu Tong Dumpling Bar
Hu Tong is Melbourne’s dumpling mecca and well known for its perfectly pleated xia long baos (XLB for short). Walk in the door and through the glass windows you can see the chefs making rows and rows of these. As good as these soup filled treasures are with their gossamer wrappers oozing broth when you bite in, my favourite dumpling at Hu Tong are the chilli won tons ($13.20). They have a plump pork filling and just the right amount of fiery chilli laden sauce.
Details: Hutong Dumpling Bar, 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne City (Ph 03 9650 8128)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Our bill came to $38 each and we ordered way too much food.
Shanghai Street Dumplings
You know Shanghai Street Dumplings is good by the queue which snakes out the door every lunch time. It’s worth the wait for a table in this tiny no-frills restaurant and if you are eating solo you can sit up at the bench by the window. It’s run by Shanghai natives Min Shi and his wife Wayna Zhu and their experience in dumpling making shows in the steamed pork XLB. They have a great pliant skin and sweet broth. I also love the dumplings here which come in a soup for a good wintery meal. Be warned its cash only so make sure you have some in your wallet.
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