Monday, July 15, 2013

Melbourne eats: ShanDong Mama

We ducked into a typical Chinatown shopping arcade for a late lunch last trip to find what's been branded some of the best dumplings in Melbourne.

Already in its early life ShanDong Mama - a low-key north-eastern Chinese eatery - is making waves with a lust-worthy dumpling menu and a sort-of modern Chinese-esque fitout.

Pan fried dumplings at Shandong Mama, Bourke Street, Melbourne
The restaurant seems to open right through from lunch to dinner service so our late lunching hour was no issue, even if it was staff meal time in the mostly empty restaurant.

The huge menu caters to any appetite or whim for north-eastern Chinese food, which is seafood-heavy with ShanDong being a coastal province in China.

Pickled cabbage and jellyfish salad
We started with a small appetiser salad of crisp, lightly pickled, raw Chinese cabbage shreds with strips of jellyfish. The latter is a rehydrated textural delight (but not for all) dressed in sesame oil which pleasantly took on tartness from the pickled cabbage.

It was a fantastic appetiser, full of flavours and textures, enhanced with a dab of the chilli oil condiment at the table.

Hot and sour soup
ShanDong Mama’s rendition of hot and sour soup is a definitely a sour one and not all too hot. Juliennes of carrot, bamboo shoot, woodear fungus and silky tofu were found in the depths of the cup-style bowl; the thick soup being a comforting lead into dumplings.

Pan fried fish dumplings
I knew right away I wanted the fish dumplings which have become a bit of a signature dish for ShanDong Mama, along with their unique pork and dill dumplings.

Given the option, I will almost always go for pan fried dumplings ahead of boiled ones and it was just reward when the thin, just chewy wrappers arrived blistery golden brown with crunch.

The wrappers encased a mousse-y mackerel filling redolent with coriander, ginger and other goodness and without any fishiness, while the open ends helped some of the intense heat escape the dumpling.

Spicy chicken noodles
Dumplings go hand in hand with noodles but even then, the massive bowl of the spicy chicken noodles was a surprise.

Completely covered in a decidedly non-spicy gravy of boneless chicken pieces, capsicum, onion and other vegetables, the huge coils of thin white noodles would have been enough to feed at least two without anything else to eat.

Spicy chicken noodles
The noodles weren’t all that chewy to start and softened more as they soaked up most of the soupy gravy towards the seeming never-end of the large bowl.

ShanDong Mama's dumplings are certainly in that upper echelon and I'll be very keen to return to try other varieties on my next visit to Melbourne. More Melbourne eats posts to come.

Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Mmm i love panfried dumplings but I've never tried fish ones before!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

great find - like helen, I've never tried fish pan fried dumplings. I don't think I've seen it on a menu before either.

Sally Li said...

I loved the vegan dumplings last time I went. you should check out my review on it at

john | heneedsfood said...

Nice little find, and one I'm bookmarking for my next visit to Melbs. I'm well overdue for a dumpling fix!

Lam Stock said...

Oh my! The spicy chicken noodles look so yummy! Making me so hungry!

- Ando

Amy zhong said...

ive had something similar on my trip around china but this sure looks and sounds a lot more delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh I saw these on Daisy's blog Never Too Sweet For Me! It looks like a great find :)

billy @ a table for to said...

How could you not order their fish dumprings?!?!? THE BEST!!!

billy @ a table for to said...

I prefer the steam fatty plumb fish dumprings, THE BEST!!!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

very interesting, never seen dumplings shaped like a spring roll before! looks good though

Tina said...

HI Helen - Yeah, not sure if I've seen any like this in Sydney...

Hi Tina - We're totally missing out here, aren't we? :/

Hi Sally - Will definitely return for a visit for more dumplings next time I'm in Melbourne.

Hi John - I always feel overdue for dumplings; even if I've just had them recently!

Hi Ando - It was such a gigantic serve - definitely for sharing!

Hi Amy - Hopefully they become more common around here too.

Hi Lorraine - Yep, the place is popular with Melbourne bloggers :)

Hi Billy - Pan fried all the way!

Hi Vivian - So very goo. Apparently the juices from the filling are meant to come out and cook into the dumpling skin :)


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