Shop 907, 644 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9261 8832
Friday night in Sydney was supposed to be epic. The plan was that I’d chill in my room for a bit, go for a jog around Hyde Park and then attend a BodyPump class at the gym. I would then go back to my room, freshen up and then chill some more until Marty arrived from Queensland. We would then walk across town to Surry Hills, where a table at three-hatted restaurant Marque would be waiting for us at 8:30pm.
Unfortunately, things only half went to plan.
I did go for that jog and I did smash it in Bodypump, just like any good girl. I also managed to get a bit of shut-eye after all that before Marty called me to say that his plane, which was supposed to land in Sydney at 7:55pm, was delayed. 10 minutes later, ‘delayed’ became ‘cancelled’ due to extremely bad weather in Northern NSW. This meant that no planes were travelling through to and away from Queensland.
This was not good.
I was not happy, Marty was not happy and neither was anyone at Coolangatta airport. Virgin then announced that all THEIR flights would be cancelled. Jetstar passengers travelling to Sydney, including Marty, anxiously waited for a further announcement from the airline and when they were told that the last flight into Sydney was going ahead, they all breathed a sigh of relief. Three hours late was better than never.
Now, I know that delayed flights are a part of everyday life and arguably not even worth mentioning on a blog, much less mine. However, the fact that Marty and I only see each other once a month on average meant that precious hours were being wasted. I also had to cancel our booking at Marque, which was frustrating to say the least because I had made the booking over a month ago. However, luck was on my side for the restaurant had received a cancellation call 10 minutes before I rang – a couple no longer wanted their 8:30pm booking for the following night, which meant that it was ours for the taking. Sweet!
But for now, there were pressing matters to attend to until 11pm: what to eat for dinner? It was a lovely night in Sydney, but all I wanted to do was to grab some take-away and eat in front of the TV. My first stop was Chat Thai in Thaitown, a restaurant that a few of my readers had recommended. Unfortunately, Chat Thai was PACKED so I gave up and just wandered around aimlessly on George Street.
Before long, I ended up at World Square shopping centre and lo and behold, a dumpling restaurant appeared in front of me! The place was called Taste of Shanghai and it was buzzing. My very sketchy memory also told me that place had the same name as a very reputable dumpling restaurant in Ashfield. I had wanted to suss out this Ashfield restaurant but wasn’t prepared to make the commute so this city branch was a godsend. I placed my order at the counter and within 10 minutes, I was out of the door (with a couple of bubble tea drinks from Chatime to complete the meal).
I realised that I had forgotten to ask for vinegar, ginger and chilli oil when I was at the restaurant so I had to go without any condiments. This was a shame but because the dumplings were so good, they actually tasted amazing on their own. Such was the case when it came to eating my xiaolongbao (pork soup) dumplings. The dumplings remained miraculously intact despite the multi-block walk. Each XLB had a skin that was thin, yet sturdy enough to hold the aromatic broth and pork filling. I’d say that these are on par, if not better, than Hu Tong’s XLBs (probably the best I’ve tasted in Australia so far) and for $8.80 (for eight), they represented much better value than their rival, Din Tai Fung which is located in the same shopping centre.
I ordered the chilli oil poached pork dumplings ($8.80), only because it’s Marty’s favourite dish at Hu Tong and I’m sure that he would have appreciate a serving of these after a long night at the airport! The dumpling filling was beautiful – it was packed with lots of chives and coriander, making it taste better than the ones Hu Tong dish out. Having said that, Hu Tong’s chilli oil dressing was better than TOS’ for this one lacked punch (probably because they didn’t add as much Sichuan peppercorns). This was still a decent dish though.
And now, for the shengjianbao (fried pork buns, eight for $8.80).
Oh yes, the shengjianbao!
If I thought the first two dumplings were amazing, then these were better than the latest Batman movie, better than London 2012 and dare I say it, better than sex. Now, I’ve had some decent SJBs in Melbourne but nothing – and I mean, nothing – could compare to these babies. They were impeccably crispy on the outside and when bitten into, extreme dough-y-ness met your tongue. This was then followed by a delicious pork filling and a squirt of flavoursome, sweet broth. Like, WOW!
I’ve never seen SJBs with bottoms more perkier and crunchier than these babies!
I only paid $26.40 for these three dishes, which represented pretty damn good value given how satisfied I was. In a way, I had bad northern NSW weather and Marty’s subsequent late arrival to thank or I would have never had the chance to try this place. I wish I could say that I ate every single piece of pork-y and carb-y goodness while I watched North Melbourne surprisingly defeat Carlton but my stomach could only hold so much. Plus, I had to play considerate girlfriend and save some food for Marty (who, apart from chilli oil dumplings, couldn’t care much for dumplings but even he had to concede that these beauties were ‘alright’).
I don’t know when I’ll be in Sydney next but I will definitely come back here for some more dumplings and buns – and I’ll remember ask for some condiments this time.