Ode To Dumplings: One.

7 May

O, dumplings.

Sweet (well really savoury in this case), darling dumplings.

Your cushiony, carby softness and interior of lightly fragranced, often slightly undercooked, pork mince flecked with chives make me salivate with delight.

Your ability to fill me up and keep me going even through dinnertime save me from having to make the effort to cook something myself (hey, I said I was lazy).

Your warmth and comfort are the perfect antidotes to hellishly freezing winter days.

You are the perfect lover for me: at only $4 a serve and taking mere minutes to prepare, you’re cheap and easy.

Wait.

Appalling (sexual) analogies aside, I think I’ve made a pretty strong point here. Nothing cures winter and financial blues quite like Chinese dumplings.

My friends and I are lucky enough to study in close proximity to some of the best and most authentic dumpling houses in Sydney, regularly taking our lunch breaks there and exchanging whinges about tutors and the like.

You know the ones: they’re dingy, large enough to accommodate four small adults and have minimal standards of table service. Often the décor leaves a lot to be desired and you’ll be sharing a table with three other strangers, but to me that’s part of the fun.

We never stray from the one dumpling place: Chinese Noodle House, located at 8 Quay St, Haymarket, satisfies all the criteria of what I believe to be a good dumpling place.

And clearly everyone else agrees: there’s almost always a line if you go at night and I’ve once waited half an hour to get in.

But the wait is worth it, not only for the delicious dumpling goodness but also for the joy of seeing artificial grapes strung from the ceiling – undoubtedly authentic Chinese décor.

Don’t count on outstanding service here, or exceptional plating up, but do come with the expectation that you’ll get fantastic value for money and really, really good food.

Whenever we go to dumplings, we always order the same thing, knowing its reliability will ensure we are entirely satisfied. After all, when money’s tight, trying new things is often a risk – which I know is my duty if trying to write about food, but I’ll branch out and try the braised octopus when I’m back above the poverty line.

Boiled pork and chive dumplings.

Our constant fallback is the boiled pork and chive dumplings. For $8.50 you get 16, whereas steamed and fried only yield 12 – poor value for money if I ever saw it. It’s enough to share between two and each dumpling is so dense and starchy it ensures you can bypass your next meal, thus saving money and potential procrastinating-from-study time.

The pastry used to make the dumplings isn’t as refined as what you’d get in a top restaurant like Din Tai Fung (said to be the height of Sydney’s dumpling scene).  I’ve heard that the dumplings at Din Tai Fung (which I fully intend on going to in a few pay days time) are each a masterpiece in themselves, with impossibly thin casings that come from extremely disciplined dumpling-making skill. The casings at our joint are quite thick but show the authentic, almost ‘home-made’, feel of the place. They’re the kind of dumplings I’ve had at friends’ houses, made by their mothers who aren’t concerned with showy tricks or even consistency.

The filling that we go for is pork minced with (what tastes like) garlic and ginger and speckled with bright green chives. Although meaty, they are by no means heavy. The freshness of the chives ensures the dumplings remain light in flavour and removes the overwhelming fleshy taste that I often find with pork.

Sides of soy, vinegar and chilli, as well as green tea.

You also get complimentary green tea – a bonus for anyone, strapped for cash or otherwise. Despite the below-average table service, they’ll top it up for you if needed.

Dumplings, to me, are the ideal student dining out option. They cover the major food groups: carbohydrates, protein and vegetable (surely chives and garlic count), they’re cheaper than a congealed fast-food meal and they’ve even become a little bit trendy, for all you artsy beret-wearing, bicycle-riding, beatnik-resembling hipsters out there.

Chinese Noodle House
8 Quay St, Haymarket
Sydney

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2 Responses to “Ode To Dumplings: One.”

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