68 Koornang Rd
Carnegie VIC 3163
+61 3 9568 6641
Another Sunday, another dumpling restaurant. After spending a good chunk of the morning at Monash Caulfield to sort out a few things, Adam and I hopped on the train and got off at the very next station for lunch. Although Adam’s “so over dumplings” (heck, his parents make him eat with them at 1+1 Dumplings in Footscray every Friday night for some reason), we all know that the misses has the final say in dining all matters so we ended up at Auntie’s Dumplings rather than the souvlaki take-away shop that Adam was eyeing.
According to reports, this is the yummier younger sister of the now-defunct Bob’s Kitchen in Glen Waverley – this much is obvious as soon as you see the familiar font on the sign before gazing your peepers to the tiled floors, simple furnishings and all sorts of Chinese paper paraphernalia (actually, this applies to pretty much all dumpling places so what the heck am I saying?!). It may have been just before 2pm on a Sunday morning but the place was buzzing with locals having just woke up from their Sunday sleep-ins.
Adam lambasted my decision to order Shanghai noodles ($7.80) but when I asked him what HE wanted instead, he couldn’t find anything else that sounded good in the noodle section of the menu so Shanghai noodles, it was. And although Adam isn’t going to admit it out loud, he knew that my decision to stick with the noodles was as good as Essendon’s win against Carlton in that match in June 2009. The use of thick, chunky wheat noodles instead of their bloody skinnier cousins was already a +1 on my books, but the fact that the whole package was irresistibly tasty (more so than JG Dumplings’ version) sealed it for me.
The ubiquitous staple of these restaurants: pan-fried pork dumplings (15 pieces for $8.30). As you can see in this photo, the guys in the kitchen could probably use a refresher training in ‘how to drain fried foods properly’ (come to think of it, pretty much every dumpling restaurant I’ve visited this year should attend such a course). The oil did bug me a little bit but because the fact that they were puffy, crispy and delicious made up for it. While I still think that JG Dumplings are still in front for the ‘best dumplings in Melbourne’ prize, these come quite close.
Two small steamers, one of top of the other, housed eight little pieces of xiaolongbaos (小籠包) which we paid $8.30 for. It goes without saying that these do not even match Hu Tong’s standards on a mediocre day – one of my dumplings did not even have soup in it! – but they were better than average. I was glad that they were plump rather than saggy, but no points to the filling which was a little too “porky-tasting” for me (I couldn’t see any vegetables or things that originated from a plant in it).
This was the first time I ordered these babies. Called shengjian mantou/shengjianbao (生煎馒头) which was advertised on the menu as ‘Shanghai fried pork mini buns’ (5 for $7.50), they are best described as a cross between a xiaolongbao and a pan-fried pork dumpling. They may have been a little oily, but so lovely were the fried buns that were the size of my fist that I did not bother draining the rest of the oil myself. The buns were filled with a pork filling similar to that of a normal pan-fried dumpling but slightly more sweeter. What gives the buns their flavour, however, is the soup that’s in it. Delish (if you ignore all the oil).
The $30.30 we paid for the four dishes was very reasonable and we were left feeling full from all that pork we ate (I’m sitting here shuddering as I realise just how much pork we ate that day). The food arrived pretty quickly and the service was better than what I’ve come to expect from dumpling restaurants (I even saw one waitress smile!). I also need to add here that the food at Auntie’s Dumplings is not heavily doused in MSG like its older sister restaurant so there is no need to worry about slugging two litres of water after your meal. I’ve promised Adam that I wouldn’t take him to another dumpling restaurant for a while so it will be a long time before we come back here again. I do, however, promise that the first dumpling place we’ll visit after this so-called “dumpling ban” would be here.