Box Hill Central Location: 1 Main Street, Box Hill VIC 3128 Restaurants visited: Kitchen Republik, Movenpick Disclaimer: Sponsored article I have fond memories of growing up in Box Hill. Every time Chinese New Year turned its head, Mum and Dad would take us to the centre court of the Box Hill shopping precinct to watch the inaugural setting off of the Chinese fire crackers. The fire crackers make a deafening noise – the premise behind them is that the sound is so loud that it will ward off evil spirits from the new year – and I remember clutching tightly to Mum’s hand as each of the bright red crackers burst into oblivion.
New Shanghai Various locations: Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne + Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone, Melbourne Contact: 03 9994 9386 (CBD) / 03 9973 9483 (Chadstone) Disclaimer: Sponsored article Those who know me well will know that I am OBSESSED with dumplings. Whether it’s fried, steamed, savoury or sweet, you name it – I’ll (probably) like it. And when it is done well, boy does it make a whole world of a difference. Enter New Shanghai. Just like the heritage of one of our favourite dumpling joints, Din Tai Fung, at the heart of New Shanghai are ancient family recipes learned in Shanghai and passed down from generation to generation. These ancient recipes are the base of a sumptuous spread of Shanghai-style soup dumplings (called ‘xiao long bao’ after the bamboo steaming baskets they are traditionally prepared in), noodles, bubbling hot pots, and pan-fried buns. Each of these can all be enjoyed while viewing New Shanghai’s live dumpling-making theatre (thanks to an open kitchen).
China Red Location: Shop 6, 206 Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 9662 3688 I’m notorious for hitting up the chef-recommended dishes list of any eating establishment, so when said list contains an item as good as Shanghai xiao long bao at uber-popular Chinese eatery China Red, I’ve just gotta tell you about it.
Tim Ho Wan Location: 206 Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne Those who have traveled through Hong Kong, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur will be familiar with dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan. Founded by acclaimed dim sum chef Mak Kwai Pui (Le Meridian, Lung King Heen), the original 19-seat restaurant was awarded a Michelin star after just one year of opening in 2009 and, since then, the restaurant chain has taken the place as the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. We headed in to celebrate the launch of their latest monthly specials, which includes a serve of prawn and chive dumplings with a kick of chilli, crispy pork noodles and golden tofu.
Son In Law Location: 56-58 Johnston Street, Collingwood Victoria Contact: 03 9410 399 Resplendent in blazing purple is Son In Law, a stone’s throw from the Tote on busy Johnston street. This is fresh, up to date Thai Street food. We had to start with this new restaurant’s name sake: Son In Law Eggs – Sweet Tamarind, Chilli, fried shallots – $8
New Shanghai Location: Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 9994 9386 http://www.newshanghai.com.au/ We barely need any excuse for more dumplings. New Shanghai’s new paired menu shows off the complimentary nature of wine and a smattering of their varied dishes. With expert advice from Oatley Wine Merchants, New Shanghai have put together a balanced menu showing off the best of both protein and grape. With Danny Bhoy’s famous tasting description echoing in my ear in a heavy Scottish accent : “Mmmm… crushed grapes…” we set out to investigate the complimentary pairings. I’ll leave the finer subtlety of wine tasting notes, legs, cooperage and annual harvest variance to those that are far more qualified to do so. The pairings as a whole however were great. Be sure to check out New Shanghai’s new pairings menu. The food and wine matching was subtle with the focus on the meal as a whole. I’ve talked about matching food with drinks before, so it’s no surprise to know how well it works as it does here.
Mr Huang Jin Location: 4-5 Katherine Place, 517 Flinders Lane, VIC 3000 Contact: 9629 5452 Anyone who’s ever lined up for xiao long bao would agree that additions to the Melbourne dumpling scene are usually not a bad thing. Set in Melbourne’s schmick Katherine Place (alongside favourites such as T by Luxbite, Hunters’ Roots and Delhi Streets), sits Mr Huang Jin, a small eatery that serves up both traditional and modern dumpling flavours.
The National Hotel Location: 340-344 Victoria St, Richmond, VIC 3121 Contact: 03 9429 8811 The National Hotel is one of those rare pubs that manages to radiate a sense of relaxed elegance while still catering to every pub goer. The fire-lit lounge and cosy rear dining room is offset by cool timber and concrete blocks which provide both texture and warmth to the huge space. The Hotel’s old Victorian shell has been renovated extensively, with a mix of recycled materials and rich overlays. It’s an inviting place, and an easy choice for a relaxing dinner or nibbles over drinks. We were recently invited to attend a blogger dinner at The National Hotel to try out both existing and new items on their menu in conjunction with the team at Reymond Communications.
Melbourne Night Noodle Markets 2014 Location: Birrarung Marr Dates: November 14-30, 2014 Back with all the buzz and vibe from last year, the Night Noodle Markets returned to Melbourne this year with a bang. Lighting up the banks of the Yarra River in a new (and much better) location this year (Birrarung Marr), the festival boasted over 50 food stalls and food trucks representing dishes spanning Korea, Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia, Burma and Nepal. All of our favourite eateries returned (think Chin Chin, Mamak, Izakaya Den, Longrain and Gelato Messina), as well as some exciting newcomers (Kong, Charlie Dumpling and Mr. Miyagi). The festival was by far bigger and better than last year, with minimal wait times (on the days that we visited, there were hardly any lines), ample seating and enough space to lounge around on the grass while relaxing to the sounds of Melbourne’s top DJs.
Gelato Messina – Happy Taste Bud TimeWe loved Gelato Messina’s bespoke creations last year, and this year was no exception. Messina’s ‘pot luck pies’ included tubs of goodness with cheeky names like ‘Bangkok Holla’, ‘Phuc King Tasty’ and ‘Happy Taste Bud Time’. Our Happy Taste Bud Time pot luck pies were huge, encompassing a deadly sweet mix of lychee sponge, mango puree, rambutan and coconut gelato, whipped salted coconut cream and a chewy coconut macaron.
Urban Kitchen Emporium Melbourne Launch Restaurants: Pho Nom, Tokyo Pop, 1000 Wat Location: Lower Ground, Emporium, 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne, VIC Melbourne’s shopping mecca, Emporium Melbourne, has just gotten better with the arrival of the new Urban Kitchen dining area on the lower ground floor. With a energetic vibe and a brightly lit arena, the large dining space is peppered with Asian highlights, with vietnamese noodle shop, Pho Nom, serving up heartwarming pho, banh mi and rice paper rolls, and popular Melbourne institution, Ramen Ya, dishing out bowls of steaming Japanese fare. And if ramen ain’t your thing, then there’s also Tokyo Pop, with healthy bento boxes and sushi to boot.
David and Camy Noodle Restaurant Location: 605 Station St Box Hill, VIC 3128 Contact: 03 9898 8398 David and Camy has been a staple for dumplings in Box Hill for as long as I can remember. The dumplings are dirt cheap, the no-frills service is quick and efficient, and the food is not spectacular but still hits the spot.
Shandong Mama Location: Shop 7, 200 Bourke St Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9650 3818 – no bookings policy Shandong Mama, located in the blinkoryou’llmissit Mid City Arcade off Bourke Street, serves up moreish dumplings and then some with a twist. The owner, Meiyan Wang (Mama) hails from a small fishing village in the Shandong Peninsula, and has lovingly created a unique offering of mackerel dumplings at Shandong Mama. Having heard rave reviews of the dumplings served up here, we were well and truly due for a visit.
Shanghai Street was on my radar this week. It’s an absolutely teeny store that is, more often than not, accompanied by a ridiculously long trail of customers that runs out the door and on to Little Bourke.
Restaurant chains typically invite scepticism, but they are known for their consistency in food and service. And at HuTong CBD, this translates to reliably high-quality xiao long bao with pleasant and efficient service staff toting walkie talkies.
Consisting of a cluster of 6 separate food stalls, Food Republik is a dolled-up food court that captures the concept of the large, multi-shop eateries that adorn the giant department stores of Asia.