December 22, 2012 by eatfreak
This hole-in-the-wall eatery complete with underground kitchen (seriously) is a spot you may either love or hate… I’m tending towards love but with some reservations. We visited one lazy Friday evening for a dumpling fix that required no effort to get to and no effort in my appearance (and this place is not somewhere you need to dress up for).
This place is small. Like really small. Basic décor is an understatement. Menus are in clear file folders, complete with photos and ingredients. Air con does not exist here (think warm shoebox with 5 tables inside and two outside)). And the menu is rather limited.
Just thought I’d go with full disclosure at the outset so you know what you’re in for.
Having said that, the service is understated but very friendly and although the menu options are relatively simple and unsophisticated, they were also rather satisfying.
The handmade noodles with prawn soup ($14.99) may not have looked like the menu photo, but was really quite delicious and exactly what I felt like at the time. The broth was not over-oily but still had full flavour and the noodles were fresh. There were enough prawns in the soup to reassure me I had not over-paid.
The Steamed Little Buns or Shanghai Xiao Long Bao, were my favourite dumplings of the two. They were rather light on the traditional soup that usually comes steaming out when you bite into a xiao long bao, but still had good flavour, especially when dipped into the vinegar-soy sauce.
We also ordered some steamed seafood dumplings. These were fairly standard issue, they hit the spot but nothing to write home about. In retrospect, I would probably order the fried dumplings instead which looked rather impressive.
Lastly we ordered the boiled green vegetables served with soy and oyster sauce. This wasn’t the best ‘gai lan’ I’ve ever had and you can definitely notice the difference between boiled and steamed greens, the former being soggier and holding less flavour. But the dish ensured we had something ‘healthy’ in our meal and we managed to easily finish it.
We appreciated that the owner advised us that we had initially ordered too much (when we had an additional noodles dish in our order), so took his advice and deducted one dish. However, it was a brave assertion to make and he clearly underestimated us eatfreaks as we definitely could have put away another noodles!
While I enjoyed the Dumpling & Noodle experience and food, I feel torn as I still think paying nearly $60 for a meal (and potentially more if the waiter had let us order an extra dish!) in a place this basic is nearing on daylight robbery. Yes, the eatfreaks do have the capacity to eat a lot, however when you’re eating the Sydney-equivalent of China street food, I think the price should lower somewhat to match.
Return Factor? If I need a dumpling fix and cannot be bothered going far (i.e. Chinatown), then yes. Oh and the handmade noodles with prawn soup would also be a good snack or casual lunch. But I gotta say I would still take Marigold yum cha or the Chinese Dumpling Noodle House (still to be reviewed) any day.