Review: Shandong Mama

Meiyan Wang (otherwise known as Mama) and her daughter Ying Hou hail from Yantai, a big fishing town on the Shandong Peninsula, north-eastern China, where seafood dishes are a specialty.

Unlike last week, which was boiling hot, dad and I had to run through a sudden rainstorm to get to our lunch date this week. Dad and I always compare dumpling places that we've eaten at, both nodding when the other one insists that we should check out the latest place we've tried. But dad couldn't stop talking about his latest trip to Shandong Mama, so we decided to go there.

These were a special dumpling dish filled with a mixture of prawn, fish and vegetables (which the name of I can't remember) - I'm drooling just thinking about it. Packed full of flavour. 
The restaurant, stowed away in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Mid City Arcade, isn't anything spectacular to look at. It's no more than a classic Asian diner, with a good luck cat waving its little paw at everyone that's smart enough to walk in. But what they lack in frills and decor, they make up for in the quality of their dumplings.

A lot of the dishes are made in shop. Wang spends two hours a day rolling and pressing wheat-flour noodles, as well as making the broth for two of the signature noodle dishes, "Daryl" and the "Yuro". The mackerel dumplings are a Yantai special, where every family has a secret recipe of their own. Wang whips the mackerel filling to a fine mousse, adds coriander, ginger, spring onio, and chives, and then boils or fries them into cannoli-shaped dumplings with open ends. They are a must try, as they're unique in this city.

Steamed broccoli in oyster sauce - oyster sauce when done well is unparalleled and this was some of the best I've ever tasted. Fresh ingredients lift a dish to whole new levels. 
A lot of the food on the menu is simple, but if done well, can be soothing for the soul and Shandong Mama does not disappoint. These are some of the best dumplings I've ever had, light, silky, and definitely assured to satisfy any dumpling aficionado and to convert anyone who's ever uttered (for whatever ungodly reason) that they "don't like dumplings".

If you find the time, I would highly recommend watching this video of Mama making her famous fish dumplings.

Shandong Mama
Shop 7, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
9650 3818

Mon - Sat: 11am to 9pm


Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

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