At Chinese Dumpling Master there are Chinese noodles, dumplings and faux grapevines galore at this unassuming but immediately popular dumpling joint on Enmore Road. Service is friendly and sweet and the dumplings are solidly pleasing specimens.
"They look like saggy boobs," says Sammie looking down at the Xiao Long Bao. Personally I thought they looked more like droopy balls but these are the sorts of conversations that you can find yourself having on a Friday afternoon after a session serving lunch at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre in Newtown.
Putting master in the name of your restaurant suggests that you're really good at something (I'm thinking of adding "sleeping master" or "television watching master" to my business card). And I've got to admit that I've got slightly higher expectations based on that one word.
It's busy this Friday lunchtime at Chinese Dumpling Master. There's literally one table free so Sammie and I grab it straight away and order. Decor in the no frills Chinese restaurant is en pointe-plastic grapevines decorate the ceiling and a fridge holds the drink selection. When I order Chinese tea for two our waitress says that we can share tea for one just to save us some money. She's adorable.
Pork and chive dumplings half serve $7.80
I over-ordered because Sammie and I had the same idea: take whatever we don't eat and voila it's Friday night dinner in sorted. As a result there's what seems to be an endless parade of food coming out. The pork and chive dumpling come out within five minutes-they're good and sturdy with a thickish skin on them.
Eggplant dumplings pan fried half serve $7.80
Their fried vegetarian counterpart comes out next. It's Enmore so vegetarian selections are popular and the fried eggplant dumplings are noticeably sweet but interesting. I think given the choice the pan fried ones are better than the steamed.
Roast Duck Pancake $18.80
The roast duck pancake is served in a crispy roti and it is cut up into eight pieces for easy eating. There's hoi sin sauce, roast duck meat and skin as well as cucumber and green shallots. They're pretty good although best eaten while hot as the buttery roti becomes quite solid when cooled.
Xinjiang fried noodles with chicken $13.80
The hand made noodles are all sorts of thicknesses and textures and served with a choice of chicken, seafood, vegetables or beef. We opt for the chicken and it's a very satisfying dish with plenty of flavour to it.
Prawn dumplings $8.80
I ask if they make the dumplings in house and they say that they all are made in house. The prawn har gow are fat and meaty with prawns. I like these the best of all the dumplings but I am partial to har gows.
Special Braised Eggplant $15.80
The pan fried eggplant is a sticky, piping hot delight. These are best with a bowl of plain rice but they're quite moreish, once you blow at them to cool them off.
Soupy Pork Bun/Xiao Long Bao $12.80
And to finish? Well the xiao long bao that remind Sammie and I of various body parts. They're not quite as soupy as we want but they don't split on the way to our mouths. And we can't stop thinking of those body parts as we eat them!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you think the XLB look like boobs or balls? Do you have conversations like this with friends? And do you purposely over order to have takeaway for later?
This meal was independently paid for.
Chinese Dumpling Master
71 Enmore Rd, Enmore, NSW
Ph: (02) 8959 5725
Tuesday to Friday: 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-9:30pm