Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Shanghai Village Dumpling House

112 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Last Thursday evening I found myself in China Town, a vibrant, colorful and eccentric part of the Melbourne CBD. Making our way down Little Bourke St we all had one thing on our mind, cheap dumplings!  Our destination was Shanghai Village Dumpling House and armed with our best $10 wine from the bottle shop next door we made our way into the historical building that houses this well known Melbourne establishment.
With no real expectations I was slightly surprised by the ambience within the the restaurant upon entering. The room was cozy and strangely inviting with its electric pink walls decorated with yellow Chinese lanterns and red good luck charms. To my disappointment, however, we are not here for long and were soon ushered quickly up the stairs to the second level of the restaurant. As we climb I become aware of a rather unpleasant smell that wafts down from the upper level, not the most appetising of smells to be greeted with, and I start to question the hygiene of the kitchen that will be preparing our dinner this evening. 
Reaching the second level it is as if we are in a completely different world. We are standing in a large, hall like room lit with bright florescent lights with dull grey walls surrounding us. The room is filled with large round tables, complete with lazy Susan’s and jam packed with chairs ensuring no ounce of space is left unused.
The acoustics in the room are dreadful and the noise from the large crowd of diners bounces from every corner of the room. The waitress points at an empty table at the back of the room and tells us to help ourselves to any glass wear or cutlery that we need. Squashed in around us are large groups of young students, taking advantage of the $1.50 corkage and preparing for what will probably be a large Thursday night out in the city, a fond memory of my own Uni days.
Service is not the key at Shanghai Village Dumpling House so once our group has settled in I take the lead and, having read a few questionable reviews earlier in the day, decided to avoid the larger dishes and stick to what we are all here for, dumplings, and a lot of them!
After a quick wait the dumplings start to arrive. Plate after plate full of dumplings of every imaginable variety flood the table and we all eagerly dig in. Fried, steamed, chicken and pork, beef and vegetable, it doesn’t matter what kind of dumplings they were as hands went frantically reaching across the table in this game of dumpling lucky dip.
The dumplings on the whole were moist and tasty and no complaints were heard across the table. The fried dumplings were the stand out winners, with a nice crispy outer layer adding to their appeal while the steamed pork buns were my personal favorites. Plate after plate of dumplings continued to arrive one after the other and our dining group, though not for the lack of trying, could not possibly finish those last few plates of steamed dumplings left on the lazy Susan.
Now if it is a culinary experience you are looking for I would suggest you think twice before visiting Shanghai Village Dumpling House.  On the other hand if you fancy a large plate of tasty dumplings or want to organise a group dinner that will not break the bank then this is the place for you. After feasting on a steady stream of dumplings all evening the total bill came to little more than $16 a person, including a tip!
Will I be returning? Now that is a question I am not so certain of but one thing is for sure, it was a fantastic experience and one I am pleased to have ticked off my list of ‘Melbourne to dos’.
Rated 10 O’s out of 20
Shanghai Village Dumpling on Urbanspoon

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