For once I feel like I’m keeping up with the Melbourne food trend. No. Not really. But I have been going back to my old materials and found out that I really cannot remember about things I ate last year! So I figure I might try a different tact and post about a restaurant I’ve been to recently.
Just in case you haven’t heard of China Red (And why haven’t you? Jess, Billy, Penny, Dani have all written about it), it’s a new dumpling place in that newly renovated arcade on Burke St. We rocked up on the very first preview night of Hairspray* at the Princess Theatre and we were looking for somewhere to grab out dinner. Jacqui wanted to hit the pub but, you see, I haven’t had dumplings in 22 days. Did you get that? I went twenty two days without dumplings. Suffice to say, we did not go to the pub.
(Eight treasure noodles – $9.80?)
You might have also noticed that the novelty of this place is the touch screen ordering. Where you simply choose what you want, go through a couple of ‘Are you sure you want to order this? There is no cancelling it, you know?’ warnings on the screen and about 5 minutes later, your dish arrives. Loves it. No fuss. No talking to waiters over noise. No mispronouncing xiao long bao (seriously, does anyone know how to pronounce that word?). So it’s all great. Except, well, notice how much food we had for 3 people? Yeah. That. Be careful. Sooooo easy to over order. And also bear in mind that it is a nice dumpling place – not your average hole-in-the-wall cheapo dumpling place. The prices are slightly higher.
(steamed pork dumplings – $10.80?)
The menu seemed to take on a few twists – there’s your dumpling section, your noodle section, your Shanghainese section, your Cantonese section (also known as ‘Melbourne Classics’ – this means sweet & sour pork, people), your desserts section. We decided that when in dumpling joint (they also have a window displaying dudes making dumplings, Hutong-esque), we order some dumplings and noodles. Our first dumplings were the basic pork dumplings which always get ordered a control item. It failed. The skin was way too doughy and the filling didn’t have enough flavours to compensate the skin. And also they were quite dry. How do you manage to make boiled dumplings dry?
(Won tons in spicy sauce – $8.80?)
Our second dumpling dish fared much better. While the wontons suffered from the same lack-of-flavour filling, it more than made up for it with the fabulous sauce, limited chilli oil (there is chilli oil at the table, you could pile some more on if you so desire) and a general sprinkling of green onions. Loved the sauce.
Our first noodle dish was called ‘eight treasure noodles’ or something along that line. I failed to retrieve the receipt from the night. It was basically their fabulous homemade wheat noodles, sliced cucumber, a tiny dollop of peanut sauce and some sort of offal, tofu, green soy beans and chilli-bean sauce concoction. The noodles were again a bit dry and stuck together so it made it hard to toss the whole lot together. But it was actually really good.
(pan fried pork dumplings – $10.80?)
These were the pan fried version of the pork dumplings. Also ordered as a control item. Josh and I are generally not a fan of fried dumplings, we find them unnecessarily greasy but Jacqui didn’t mind trying so we ordered them. I didn’t have a lot of expectation since the first lot of dumplings failed. But amazingly enough, it was perfectly fried and added that much needed dimension to the ridiculous thick doughy skin and the not-so-well-oomphed filling. This one passed.
(Peking noodles with mince sauce – $9.80?)
Because the last lot of noodles were really fabulous, and I was greedy, and I also blamed the easy touch screen, I ordered another basic control dish. Which was also really rather good, albeit, again, being a bit dry and hard to toss together. But again this noodle dish passed with a flying colour. Jacqui made a comment that ‘this must be the Asian version of spag bols.’
Unfortunately, no desserts because we were way too full. A good satisfying meal in a nice setting. I would go back for noodles but would pass on the dumplings next time.
China Red [ Web Site ]
Address: Shop 6, 206 Bourke St. Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9662 3688
* AWESOME show, people. Awesome.