Yeah, I’ve been pretty slack with my reviews lately. Apologies. I’m using Christmas, Boxing Day and Dale Steyn as an excuse, so blame themnot me (haha). Also, these reviews are of “minor” restaurants so I’m not as excited about doing them as I would be with say, Maha or Nobu (both of which I’m going to this week, hurrah!). Kinda like a high school player who gets excited bragging about his hook up with the hot cheerleader, while not really wanting his mates to know that he had also had a drunken make-out session with the geek in the chess club. Not the best analogy but you know what I mean.
Anyway, the first restaurant I will write about is Sushi Wushi which I visited a few weekends ago when Adam and I were in Eltham visiting Aaron. Now Eltham is a bit of a hike just for sushi, even for avid foodies. But because Eltham is only 10-15 minutes from my house and because I happened to be in the area, I decided to give this place a try after Ted raved on about wonderful it is. Plus, it also featured in this year’s Cheap Eats so I assumed that it was somewhat decent.
Now Sushi Wushi looks pretty unimpressive from the outside. And the fact that all the staff there are white (except for maybe one Asian guy) made me hesitate a bit before finally slipping inside. Although Sushi Wushi is probably best known for its hot dishes, I decided to buy a box of ready-made sushi, which were on display in a glass cabinet. I went for the mixed sushi pack which was $5 and came with 4slices of sushi (cooked tuna, seafood extender (or California roll, if you like), terriyaki chicken and terriyaki beef) to eat at Aaron’s house.
I know that I was not going to get the best sushi in the world, but I did expect something better from a place that Necia Wilden gave a nod to in this year’s Cheap Eats. The undercooked rice coupled with the fact that the sushi rolls had been sitting out for God knows how long made me wonder how on earth this place could have merited a mention in Cheap Eats. The fillings weren’t that fantastic either. I know that many people like to poke fun at the Chinese for running less-than-decent sushi cafes and restaurants. And while I’ve defended many a Chinese establishments for doing a fine job (the guys who started up Sushi Sushi are Chinese as is the manager of Koko at Crown), I believe that Aussie-run Sushi Wushi deserves all the flogging it can get because the sushi was just sub-par. Although Ted swears by Sushi Wushi’s mains such as its chilli jam tofu, the sushi box has already made me rather dubious of his claims and I would be hard pressed to find a valid reason for me to return.
Next one: Dumplings Plus on Swanston Street (where Ye Shanghai used to be – I was never a fan of that place so I was somewhat glad when it disappeared). In response to my whinge about Camy Shanghai Dumplings , Liang suggested trying Dumplings Plus, which was where Adam and I had lunch a few weekends ago. We rocked up at around 2pm for a very late lunch and were surprised to see the place still packed to the rafters. The only table was one in a dinghy corner upstairs next to a weird kid who was dozing on a lone table by the wall, which we gladly took because we were both so hungry. Brisk service by a fobby waitress meant that we received our drinks (tea) and menu promptly and although the food took much longer to arrive, we were in no hurry as we took in our surroundings – framed prints of Shanghai’s Bund and fussy Malaysian housewives gossiping on a nearby table.
The first thing that came out were the supposed “”lamb wrapped in grilled pancakes” that Adam wanted ($5 for 2 pieces). We were expecting something that looked like souvlaki but we ended up with buns filled with lamb mince instead. I wasn’t sure whether it was simply a case of lost in translation or whether these were actually Chinese-style “wraps” but we didn’t say anything to the waitress. Besides, nothing else in the menu cost $5 so we must’ve got the right one. Anyway, the “wraps” weren’t anything special, it was just one big lamb dumpling (which sounds rather weird, to be honest).
Naturally, we had to order a plate of dumplings. We went for the plate of pan-fried pork dumplings which, at $8.50 for 10 pieces, were dearer than Camy’s but were of better quality. Not only did they taste nicer and “fresher”, there was also less oil residue on the plate and the dumpling skins were fried to crunchy perfection. Okay, so they weren’t the best dumplings ever (I still vote for Dumpling King in Box Hill) but they were worth the price we paid for them.
We also ordered a serving of xiao long bao, which are dumplings filled with (usually pork) meat and soup (4 for $5 or 6 for $7.50). I guess this was probably the most disappointing dish we had. Not only were they lukewarm when they came out (just after our pan-fried dumplings), but they weren’t as puffy as they SHOULD be. As you could see in the photo, they look like deflated puffer fish. The fillings didn’t excite either. Not only was the meat flavourless, there was not enough soup in my dumplings… and one of my dumplings even had NO SOUP in it! Poor form guys… poor form.
The last dish we got was a plate of “fried Shanghai rice flour cake” ($8.80 – I quoted from their fobby menu here). I originally felt like Shanghai fried noodles but to my chagrin, it was not on the menu and so I had to settle with the rice cakes. Some of you might know this dish as nian gao, whereby a rod of glutinous rice is sliced up into pieces and stir-fried with meat and vegies. The selling point of this dish is usually the soft chewy texture of the rice cakes. Yum! Now, I’ve had my share of rather decent nian gaos in the past but sadly, Dumplings Plus’ version fail to make the list. Oh, I had no qualms with the serving size nor the way the rice cakes were cooked. I was just not pleased with the ratio of vegies to rice cakes (too many green thingi-mi-bobs) and no mushrooms or baby corn were used. There was pork, yes, but not a lot of it. All in all, disappointing.
Dumplings Pluswas a bit of a hit and miss. While none of the dishes particularly stood out, I guess I would come back for the dumplings and maybe see what else is good on the menu. After all, I do need an alternate dumpling house to visit in the city should the cravings arise… and no way in hell would I go to Camy‘s ever again! I saw heaps of fobs order noodles in soup so perhaps they would taste better than the drier dishes we had. As for service? It’s what you would expect at a fobby establishment (read: brisk, unsmiling, confusing) but it is miles better than the service at Camy‘s.
Still on the lookout for another CBD dumpling recommendation, so do give us a yell if you know of any places!