Monday, 21 July 2008

the best dumplings in sydney

Ten years ago if you took an average Aussie to Yum Cha, you’d most often be met with “Yuck! What’s that?” Over the years, Australians seem to have evolved their tastebuds to deal with the reality that we happen to be in the Asia-Pacific. These days, it isn’t uncommon to hear “I’ll have another har gao please. And while you’re at it, throw in some siu mai too.”

With this in mind, here are some top tips for truly delicious dumplings in Sydney.

Yum Cha

Photobucket

If you live in Sydney's western suburbs, you’re lucky. Some of the best dumplings can be found in these here parts. For traditional yum cha fare, look no further than Canterbury Leagues Club’s Dynasty Restaurant. Here you’ll find plump har gao – prawn dumplings wrapped in soft translucent pastry, siu long bao – pork filled dumplings, which burst with juicy flavour when bitten and gow choy gow – spinach, garlic and prawn-filled pockets of deepest green.

Other solid yum cha joints include Zilver popular with the cool kids for its slightly out of the way location, authentic fare and availability of Peking duck on the Yum Cha menu (not a traditional dish for this time of the day).

Palace Chinese Restaurant does great things with offal, but they also do really solid har gao and, siu mai and see jiup pai gwat - pork spare ribs steamed in black bean and garlic.

Try Sky Phoenix in the city for the crisp wu gok – yam dumplings and it’s lofty perch in the Sky Garden new Westfield complex. If you’re in the east – never fear, Kam Fook in Bondi Junction will be as far as the Paddington or Bondi massive will have to schlep for a tasty harm soi gok – or as one waiter once called it 'football dumplings' - crispy on the outside, soft, sweetly glutenous and pork‘n’chivey on the inside.

Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Din Tai Fung in Haymarket is the shiny, big franchise Sydney’s dumpling scene – deserves special mention for being one of the only places in Sydney you can have proper Shanghai soup dumplings, or xiao long bao as well as an array of carefully prepared delicacies at all times of the day – not merely between the yum cha friendly window between 11am and 3pm.

Photobucket

Speaking of Shanghainese-style dumplings, what makes a good Shanghainese soup dumpling? Think thin pastry (the thinner the pastry, the better the dumpling chef), holding a bit-sized piece of meat and a slurp of tasty soup.

How do they get the soup ‘in’ the dumpling? The broth is brewed, then refrigerated until it sets into a gelatinous consistency, courtesy of the bones used to make the stock. The meat jelly is then chopped up and added to the dumpling skin. Once steamed, it reconstitutes itself into a tasty soup.

Taste of Shanghai in Ashfield is also great for xiao long bao. This place used to house KFC, and while it's somewhat classier these days, there's still a touch of lightbox neon transience about it.

If you want to continue the Ashfield dumpling crawl, cross the road and go to Shanghai Night to compare their soup dumplings. Arguably, the stock tastes better here and the great thing about this place is the warm, family-style service. It's also fun to peek behind the screen and watch the ladies making the dumplings by hand.

Pot sticker dumplings

If you’re north of the bridge, seek out Chatswood’s Lemon Grove arcade and find Grape Garden. It might be situated in a food court, but this is honest-to-goodness Beijing-style food. They specialise in pot-sticker dumplings, which contain pork, and are steamed before being tossed into the wok to crisp up and give it that beautifully charred flavour. If you’re brave, try the shredded pigs-ear salad…forget your western pretences and get into it. 

Chinese Noodle House in Haymarket near the New Yen Yen Asian grocer in Chinatown: Everyone loves to pretend that this place is their own secret find, but this Sydney stalwart has been a favourite staple of the local uni crowd and urban-types alike for years for its unbeatable combination of 'cheap' and 'delicious'. Churning out boiled, steamed and fried dumplings as well as handmade noodles and other favourites, try the pork and chive dumplings, pan-fried and a side of special braised eggplant.

The carpets on the walls and the grapes on the ceiling, in case you’re wondering is a nod to North-Western Chinese heritage, which thanks to the spice trail, is an amalgamation of Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures as well as Chinese.

A slightly more obscure gem is located around the corner and is a true Xi Bei (North Western) or Uighur (its people) restaurant. Silk Road, also in Haymarket, is slightly lesser known but well worth the visit. I know we’re talking dumplings here, but with your plate of fried dumplings, also try the Xing Jiang fried lamb with cold noodles. There are now a host of Uighur restaurants around the new area of Dixon Street, as well as the odd spot around Sydney.

Lastly, another Northern style gem can be found in Potts Point. Dumpling and Noodle House is home to comforting Northern Chinese dumplings and noodles of the handmade variety and you can choose from lamb, pork and prawn. The soup noodles and dumplings are particularly good with red vinegar sauce. Pick a table on the street for the entertainment. Eating dumplings and people watching: two of Sydney’s favourite pastimes brought together.

Where: 

Chinese Noodle House 8 Quay St, entrance on Thomas St, Haymarket
Din Tai Fung Shop 11, Level 1 World Square Shopping Centre, Haymarket
Dumpling and Noodle House 165 Victoria Street Potts Point
Dynasty Restaurant 26 Bridge Road, Belmore
Grape Garden 441 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood
Kam Fook Shop 6010, Westfield Shopping Centre, Bondi Junction
Palace Chinese Restaurant Piccadilly Tower Level 1, 133-145 Castlereagh St, Sydney
Shanghai Night 275 Liverpool Road, Ashfield
Silk Road TG13 Prince Centre, Quay Street, Haymarket
Sky Phoenix Skygarden Level 6, 77 Castlereagh St Sydney
Taste of Shanghai 264 Liverpool Road Ashfield, World Square, Haymarket
Zilver Level 1, 477 Pitt St (cnr of Hay St, Haymarket)

4 comments:

the bog logger said...

hey thanks for the dumpling round-up! I've been looking for Shanghai dumplings since I got back to Oz. I'll be sure to hit all of these places over the next few months.

Emma Japan said...

The dumplings are also amazing at Uighur at the Liverpool end of Dixon Street. Prob the best Islamic Chinese in the Syd city, the lamb and chive fried dumplings, cucumber and chilli salad, shopanji chicken stew on handmade noodles, and cumin-topped lamb skewers cannot be beat! EJ x

floridagirlinsydney said...

Will have to try Canterbury Leagues Club-- we already love Sky Phoenix-- especially for dinner.

.miss jay. said...

Thanks for such a great list. I've been googling dumplings all morning, and here I find all the answers, Wonderful!