Made in China they’re not, but that’s a good thing! Right?
We’re home-bodies on Friday-Saturday nights, as who likes the crowds if you have a choice? But tonight we headed out to the happening part of town – Darling Square! After dark it’s a whole different scene out there, gone are the young families, replaced by workers, young couples/groups, and people out for a bite before enjoying a night on the town!
After checking out ‘Maker’s Dozen’ after dark and finding that most places were crowded, we headed over to Steam Mill Lane, which has lost some of its foot traffic since the other 3 sides of the Square have opened up.
And located at the mid-way point of the Lane is ‘Made in China Dumpling Bar’. I had a mini craving for dumplings after Hamish & Andy’s week long ‘Special skill’ test of one man’s ability to blind taste ‘Dimmies’, so I’m pretty sure that any fan of the H&A show must have eaten steamed dumplings at least one meal in the past fortnight?
So with dim-sum cravings we naturally checked out the ‘Made in China’s menu – they do try to play it up, bringing Australiana and Urban lingo to the otherwise FOB cuisine. So setting foot in their little store, we had some high expectations that their dumpling offerings were going to be a stand-out from your run-of-the-mill Chinatown dumpling place.
We ordered the Rainbow Dumpling Platter (10 pieces) – $13.00, and a Wonton Big Bento Box- $13.50. And after making our orders at the counter, there are choices of 4 seating spots- 2 tables for 3, a table for 2, and a bench spot for 3 to sit side by side. As all the tables were taken, we naturally took the bench for 3, and with our backs to the rest of the store we took in the store’s ambiance – it’s kind of cool with graffiti decor, and Anglo pop-music/hip hop playing.
And although they had a few orders on the pass, sitting next to the kitchen we didn’t hear too much activity in there. The entire chef’s line consisted of one Mandarin speaking cook, and the dude who took our orders helped out and was the totality of front-of-shop. After a few alarms had gone off, indicating that someone’s dumplings had reached the right amount of steaming, our food was brought out to us.
The only colours missing from the rainbow dumplings were orange, purple and blue, but I got to hand it to them, they did manage to present red, yellow and green dumplings! Just like the wonky RAG status colour coding from Smartsheet! The texture of the dumpling wrappers were the star, they were the perfect thickness and they were nice and chewy. However the fillings within red, yellow and white dumplings all tasted the same (a bit on the salty side as well). While the green dumpling was the only dumpling which tasted different from its dumpling brethren, with strong flavours of fresh chives.
On the other hand, the Dumpling bento box was a rainbow of flavours i.e. there had to be more than 5 distinct flavours!
There were 2 Prawn wontons (which were the stand-out from all the wrapped steamed meat tonight) which had nice prawn-y flavours; there was 2 pan fried (it could have been deep fried they were so crunchy) Xiao Long Bao which tasted a bit like packet goods; a halved boiled egg; an entire bunch of Bok Choy; and a serving of spicy dry noodles! Ok, that’s exactly 5 different flavours, not quite 6- but close enough? Right?
Our end verdict? 4.0 Stars from 5! (2 from 3 for Food (the food wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was better than your average Chinatown dumpling offering); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the dude was chilled and friendly, and when they weren’t serving customers it seemed like cook and front of house were getting along real well – giggling to each other all night long. Haaha); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (at least they’re trying something new with the menu names and the overall feel of the store – it should be called China meets Urban Dumpling Bar!); and 1 from 1 for Food (In the end mains under $15 bucks, that’s not too bad for the city these days)).
In conclusion, we went in with some scepticism, when ever you try to funk-up or make-cool something which has never been, and manage to pull it off? Some credit must be given where it’s due!*Nods*. The food was tasty enough, we split everything so it felt like we had a lot of variety, and in the end we were quite full after handing over only $26.50 for 2. Not bad, not bad.
Made in China Dumpling Bar- Friday 4 October (4.0 Stars).
Shop 7, 9 Steam Mill Lane, Haymarket
Mon-Sun 10am – 8pm