Just about every country has its version of the humble dumpling. They come in every shape and size; they’re steamed, fried, baked or boiled, and filled with everything from the simplest to most exotic ingredients.
Melbourne’s love of dumplings is legendary and these restaurants serve some of Asia’s best.
What’s brand new, tastes like a cheeseburger, looks like a dumpling and has gluten free options? Why it’s Drumplings on Bourke Street – the latest addition to Melbourne’s fusion food scene. Their menu doesn’t disappoint, with fish and chip filled morsels making their home among traditional flavours like prawn and chive. A little bao-die also told us that they have a sweet $10 express lunch dumpling box on offer.
Take the queue snaking out the door as your cue that Shanghai Street have some of the most beautiful bao going around. Fried pork bao and crispy chicken and prawn buns are on hand for those seeking a crunchy deep fried kick. Steamed snacks await if you want a warming meal with a pillowy texture, and vegetarians have plenty of un-bao-lievable options too!
Pairing a dinner time dumpling deal with a massage might sound completely bizarre, but we promise we’re not horsing around. Horse Bazaar will give you three dumplings, a 10 minute massage and a new lease on life every Tuesday night for just $15. Try traditional pork dumplings or go out on a (loose and flexible) limb with fried cheese, Nutella or even a Vegemite and bacon flavour.
Tim Ho Wan
The original Tim Ho Wan is a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Hong Kong, created by dumpling master Mak Kwai Pui in 2009. Melbourne’s version shares the same menu as its Hong Kong predecessor, but not its Michelin star. That’s not to say that the dumplings here aren’t worth queueing up for (and you probably will). Opt for the global phenomenon that is the pork buns – they’re baked, not steamed, and dusted in sugar.
Golden Monkey & East China Trading Company
Handmade dumplings and handcrafted cocktails: two of life’s great pleasures, yet Melbourne hasn’t been good at putting them in the same room. Until now! The folks behind Golden Monkey bar give you the best of both worlds upstairs at East China Trading Company.
We all know that everything handmade tastes better, so do these dumplings at Mr Kwok. Although the place is now operated by his daughter, you can see through the window that Mr Kwok is often in the kitchen making these delicious dumplings from scratch.
Oriental Tea House
If you’re looking for a different dumpling experience, Oriental Tea House is the place to go. David Zhou’s teahouse is the place to pair delicious bite-sized yum cha dumplings with specialty teas, from gunpowder to oolong. They’ve also devised a date-night dumpling board game called ‘Dumplings for Dating’ – which is all about having fun, easing up with a drink or two and eating way too many dumplings.
Rice Paper Scissors
The main rule at Rice Paper Scissors is to eat with your hands. This South East Asian hawker is a master at finger foods, including the mouth-watering dumplings. Prawn dumplings are a crowd favourite, and they’re guaranteed to leave your tastebuds dancing.
HuTong Dumpling Bar
The HuTong Dumpling Bar in Market Lane is a must-visit for any self-respecting dumpling enthusiast. Come here for the signature xiao long bao – improbable, but oh-so-good, soup-filled dumplings.
You can never have enough dumplings. When in need, look for them at these places:
- Din Tai Fung: This restaurant is an internationally recognised dumpling place. Expect a queue, but their signature xiao long bao is worth it!
- Spice Temple: Try the yum cha banquet menu – you’re welcome.
- ShanDong MaMa: This has been the crowd favourite for years. Try the mackerel dumpling which is MaMa’s signature dish.