32 Jonson Street
Byron Bay NSW 4981
+61 2 6684 8493
Once Marty got his (first) kebab, we headed off to find the Conscious Café. I’ve heard wonderful things about this gluten-free, dairy-free organic and vegetarian café that I knew that I had to visit. Unfortunately, the café must have either closed down or we just happen to be complete muppets when it comes to directions before we couldn’t find it (I’d like to think the former because the café’s website no longer exists so…).
I was slightly bummed but not before realising that we were on a street that was full of cafés with enticing offerings. Unfortunately, it was close to 3pm at this stage (we had driven in from Queensland, forgetting that NSW is an hour ahead) so most of the cafés had either ran out of the good stuff or they were closing for the day.
But then there was Coco’s Dumpling Bar.
At night, this place is Cocomangas Nightclub but during the day, it’s Coco’s Dumpling Bar – though you still feel like you’re sitting in a nightclub what with its sticky floors and dingy surroundings so it’s not a place I’d recommend you’d bring your grandmother to. The dumplings here are supplied by the folk at Brisbane-based Happy Little Dumplings, which had been on my list of places to go to the next time I was in Brisbane. But now that they were right in front of me that day, I gleefully realised that I could cross HLD off my list.
The dumplings at Coco’s are slightly more expensive than what you’d pay at any of the three HLD kiosks in Brisbane, which is fair enough – it costs money to transport them. Here, you may choose any six dumplings from the steamer for $12, otherwise they’re $2.20 each. Iron Stomach Marty went for the six-piece option and because I was hungry, so did I.
I chose an eclectic mix of dumplings: one pork sui mai, one Chinese chilli duck, one pork belly and bok choy, one mushroom and vegetable and two prawn and coriander har gow.
The sui mai was of the quality you’d get at a yum cha restaurant (which is a good thing!) though I did find the mushroom and Chinese vegetable one a bit bland, even with all the shiitake mushroom pieces in there. The lady at the counter said that the Chinese chilli duck was her favourite, though I think that Peking duck pieces belong in a pancake tied together with a spring onion, cucumber and hoisin sauce rather than diced and mixed with shallots, carrots and chilli. Meanwhile, I liked the idea of slow cooked porky belly and bok choy in a dumpling but I did find this one a bit too sweet. My favourite, however, was the prawn and coriander har gow. I was surprised at how well coriander went with the fleshy prawn pieces and I’m glad I ordered two.
Although I wouldn’t say that they’re the best dumplings I’ve ever had, I liked the concept of Coco’s Dumpling Bar. What impressed me most was that Cocomangas utilised their space efficiently; they’re paying for rent anyway so why not open the place up during the day and sell dumplings and coffee? I won’t be in a rush to visit Happy Little Dumplings in Brisbane (why, when I have a long list of places to try) but if I ever go past their James Street stall in Fortitude Valley, don’t be surprised if I end up coming home with a box of six prawn and coriander har gow dumplings.