Melbourne dumpling rampage
Having discussed earlier with Brendan McCabe of our common appreciation of Shanghai broth-filled (aka Xiao Long Bao) dumplings (小籠包), we went on Sunday sampling a few places in Melbourne Chinatown offering this delicacy (and mentioned in some blogs or reviews…) We started with Wonton House on Russell St. The place was mostly empty and we had to wait for the dumplings to be made, a good omen in itself! The dumplings (above) were good, with tasty pastry and pork filling. However, the very little juice they had was rather bland and luke-warm. Not bad but far from Shanghai standards!
The second place we sampled was the apparently famous Camy Shanghai Dumpling Village on the tiny Tattersalls Lane which serves fairly cheap dumplings in a no-frill, minimalist service (and borderline dirty) restaurant. There were enough people there but we did not find the queues predicted by the guidebooks. (Again Sunday noon was not such a busy time, check this funny report!) Dumplings came more quickly, presumably because of the larger number of customers, and were certainly warmer than in the first place. The broth was tasty and the pork filling quite good as well. The pastry of the dumplings was somehow coarser than in Wonton House and maybe a bit too heavy, however the whole impression was quite positive. (At $4, these were also the cheapest dumplings of the tour.)
The third and last place we sampled was another famous dumpling place, Hu Tong Dumpling Bar, on Market Lane (that we missed on our fist passage), and it was the culmination of our culinary trip: because of the higher customer turnover (we waited a few minutes, watching the cooks making the dumplings behind a glass pane), we got served very hot dumplings almost immediately, they were superb, with thin pastry, plenty of delicious broth, and a superior type of pork filling. The pepper sauce on the side was also a perfect counterpoint to the rich tastes of the dumplings. Almost on a par with our Shanghai reference! (Service was excellent as well, e.g. tea came in a teapot.) We were thus very lucky in getting an improvement at every place we stopped!