Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings – Melburnians just can’t get enough of them.
So I predict that new dumpling joint ShanDong MaMa will do well, as they have the distinction of (a) making all their products fresh on premises every day; and (b) receiving the approval of my (Chinese) parents who declared their dumplings some of the best they’ve had in Australia.
We tried two of their more unusual boiled dumplings both in house and as takeaway. The fish dumplings ($14.80 for 10) and the ‘Melbourne’ fusion-style dumplings ($13.80 for 12) came out steaming hot, balls of minced fresh ingredients encased in a pliant skin.
The Melbourne dumpling is inspired by multicultural Australia and involves mixing diced seafood, chicken mince, lemon rind, olive oil and garlic. The clash of East-West flavours is not too bold as to be jarring and in fact that lemon and olive oil temper the fishier flavours of the seafood well.
The quantity of fish dumplings are limited every day as only one fish is filleted for the day’s serves. They use mackerel but there is no heavy fishiness in the flavour or aroma, with hints of coriander, ginger and chives balancing out the filling. The dumpling skin is a little bit thinner than the Melbourne dumplings, which suits the more delicate flavours inside.
We also tried some non-dumpling items from the menu – the pork cabbage buns ($5 for 2) and spicy chicken noodles ($8.90).
I liked the fluffiness of the steamed buns but not so much the strong flavours of the pork and green bean filling and while the noodle dish was cheap and tasty I think if you’re going to eat at ShanDong MaMa stick with the dumplings as they have more of a wow factor.
The restaurant is clean and neat and while it is not packed at the moment I suspect that will change as word spreads.
I’ll definitely be returning to ShanDong MaMa, an exciting new find for someone who could eat dumplings all day, every day. No stodgy pastry, no frozen dumplings and definitely nothing reheated in the microwave (as happened on my last visit to another famed dumpling house in Melbourne).
Mon – Sat 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
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