A couple of days ago, Jean Philippe and I went on a dumpling tour!
Yep, you heard that right–a dumpling tour. Who knew there was such a thing?
Before my flight to Melbourne, I was browsing online for things to do at the airport. I stumbled upon Viator–it’s a Tripadvisor company that’s linked to tours all over the world.
I was looking around the tours in Melbourne and saw the option of a dumpling tour! I just thought it sounded so funny and random, and knew that we had to try it.
Melbourne has a bustling Chinatown and JP and I have tried a few restaurants in the area, but there are just so many options that it can be hard to decide which spots to try out.
We’re both fans of Chinese food (I’m actually half Chinese!) so we thought three hours of stuffing our faces with dumplings sounded like a perfect evening.
The tour consisted of four different restaurants–and only one of them was actually in Chinatown. It was so cool to see a local’s perspective and find the little hole in the wall restaurants we might not have discovered otherwise. Plus, we got many history lessons behind each of the restaurants and dumplings!
Our first stop was at North East China Family. We started off with a vegetable dumpling made of cabbage, sesame oil, carrot and tofu. The dumplings were made of a green spinach dough to distinguish them from the meat filled ones and they were really delicious! The restaurant was definitely a no frills kind of place–tissue boxes served as the napkins and they could use a little help as far as cleanliness goes. My plate had some stains and a little piece of hair on it…so I switched it out for a clean one. If you can get past that bit, definitely try it! But if you’re looking for a cleanlier place, have no fear. This spot was good, but not my favorite.
The second spot was so tiny and cute. It’s called ShanDong Mama Mini–a miniature version of Shandong Mama located in Melbourne. The restaurant is really tiny but so, so charming. There are little lantern lights hanging everywhere and the place feels very intimate. The dumplings we tried here were made of mackerel–an interesting taste. It took a couple of bites to get used to, but I liked it. I really want to go back and see what kind of other dumplings they have. They also carry really great beers, we tried 2 Brothers Kung Fu and it paired excellently with the dumplings! I think this restaurant would be a great date spot. (It’s also right next to Degraves Street, one of my favorite spots in Melbourne).
The third, and both my and JP’s favorite stop was China Red. This was the only restaurant located in Chinatown and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the atmosphere (the place is pretty big and busy) these dumplings were amazing. It was a type of pork dumpling in a lovely sauce. We’ll definitely be going back! My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Our final stop was Shanghai Street. I wish I remembered the name of this kind of dumpling but apparently it’s a popular breakfast food in China! It’s a dumpling with a sort of soup inside of it, so you have to be really careful when you pick it up. You don’t want the dumpling to break, or then you’ll lose the soup and kind of miss the whole point of the dumpling. To be honest, I didn’t really think the dumplings here were anything special but mastering the art of not bursting the soup dumpling was a fun task.
Overall, I loved the atmosphere of ShanDong Mama Mini the most but my favorite dumplings were from China Red. But, everyone in our tour had different favorites!
So, if you’re headed to Melbourne anytime soon, check out its dumpling scene! My tastebuds were certainly happy that I did.