Dumplings Wise, Watergardens (Coles end). Phone: 9449 9332
There are some damn fine places to get dumplings in the western suburbs, but they’re not exactly thick on the ground in general or in any particular neighbourhood in particular.
So the opening of such a venue in a shopping centre is most certainly noteworthy and blog-worthy, even if it is a pretty fair haul from Yarraville to Taylors Lakes!
We wonder if this joint has anything in common with a certain Highpoint business beyond a similar name and, going by online evidence, appearance.
The answer is: No.
We’re told Dumplings Wise is a completely separate operation.
Moreover, while the menu (see below) is much as expected, it has no such items as mee goreng or laksa.
We reckon the fact this place is happy being Chinese and not trying to be Malaysian as well is probably a good sign.
The place is done out in a mix of Asian and standard fast-food restaurant styles.
We like the abacus!
It’s a matter of make your choices, go to the front counter, then pay and order.
We find the staff to be very professional, cheerful and good.
We’re a hungry group and order widely.
Dumplings Wise is a hot spot given the location, price, service and scarcity of dumplings in the far-flung outer west.
We nail far more hits than misses.
We advise homing in on the dumplings, as those we eat are excellent and those we see being consumed around us appear to be equally fine.
Sichuan noodles with minced pork and peanut sauce is the familiar with a twist.
We do expect the mild spiciness (we know well by now that a two-chilli rating in a shopping centre food is hardly cause for alarm bells), tangy sauce, good noodles, minced pork, mushrooms and tiny tofu cubes.
But the peanutty factor gives this dish a flavour whack quite different from the many other different versions we’ve had of this dish.
We wish we’d gone for the more modestly sized $6.90 version as the $9.80 rendition is huge.
We order the steamed BBQ pork buns (two for $2.50) for Bennie, who a. skipped breakfast; and b. is subsequently very hungry.
He likes them plenty. They taste light and fresh to me, but they’re “not really my thing”.
Steamed vegetables dumplings (four for $6) present as rather grey and drab.
But the innards do the biz, being a tasty mix of tofu, mushrooms, carrot and (maybe) water chestnut and bamboo shoot, all elements finely diced.
Pork dumplings in hot chilli sauce ($10 for 15) is both the best value and best tasting of our lunch selections.
This is a 10/10 dish for me – to my mind it’s as good as anything you’ll get at any of the more fabled dumpling joints in Melbourne.
The saucy soup in which the dumplings swim is more soy than chilli, but it turns out to be just the right kind tangy dressing the dumplings require.
The pork parcels themselves are top notch – fresh, slippery, hot and with tender but meaty piggy fillings.
Steamed baby broccoli with oyster sauce ($8.80) is something of a disappointment.
We appreciate having some greenery to go with the more weighty and meat-laden parts of our meal, and the heads are fine.
But the dish is barely warm and the stalks are tough and bitter.