Dumplings & More, 96 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 2165
After five years and more than 1000 posts, it might be presumed that Consider The Sauce has explored every noodle nook and curry cranny in Footscray Central.
And maybe even Sunshine, St Albans and various other foodie hot-spots, as well.
Not even close.
Nor will it ever.
How fabulous is that?
For example: Dumplings & More is by now a Hopkins Street veteran yet it is only very recently that we have ventured through its doorway to eat and enjoy.
And enjoy we did.
Woks are used here but this is food – from the north-eastern province of Liaoning – that is quite a long way removed from your regular Cantonese tucker.
There is ample scope in the menu (see below) to accept all sort of challenges, although quite a few of the dishes involve Chinese pickles of the sort I already know through experience are not really my “thing”.
This place is about hardcore Asian dining – the service is fine and smiling but there is not much English spoken here, so pointing at the required dishes is the go.
Ambiance is bare-bones cheap eats cafe style.
There are even a handful dishes on the menu that have no English translations. Yes, I asked as to their nature – I didn’t take precise notes on the answers, but the gist of it seemed to be that they aren’t any more weird and wonderful than the rest of the menu!
And the prices at Dumplings & More are very low.
Cucumber salad ($7, top photograph) is a beaut and refreshing starter.
It’s a little sweet, vinegary, a little spicy, garlicky and delicious.
Bennie and I are of split minds about the exceptionally cheap seaweed salad ($2).
After a couple of mouthfuls, I call it quits.
Maybe I’m too familiar with the slippery, vividly green Japanese equivalent … but this strikes me as dull and unappetising.
Bennie ploughs on, telling me the more heavily dressed (more garlic, more chilli) stuff is to be found further at the heart of the dish.
Each to his own!
The lamb skewers cost $2 each (minimum order of four) – and they are dynamite!
The meat is not tender cubes as you might get in a Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Afghan eatery.
But it matters not, as eating these chewy morsels daubed in heaps cumin and quite a lot of chilli is a blast.
Spicy chicken with peanuts ($13.80) is another winner, though I am keener about it than my offsider.
It’s not as spicy as we expect from such a dish ordered in such an establishment.
But I really love the way all the ingredients are chopped to uniform size and that those ingredients include celery and cucumber.
An order of the pan-fried lamb dumplings ($9.80 for 15 pieces) is automatic on account of them being very intensely firm favourites of CTS pal Bazoo.
Very good they are, too, with the casings being alternatively crisp and a little doughy and the innards juicy and well seasoned.
Finally, here is the crowning glory of our visits – the potato, eggplant and chilli ($13.80).
Simply put: Wow!!!
Seriously, Bennie has been talking about this dish regularly since we devoured it.
It is very, very oily – but such goes with such a dish and its method of preparation.
The green peppers strips are of only minor interest.
The potato segments are browned yet still quite firm.
They’re just like roast spuds – and unlike anything potato we’ve ever before had in any kind of Asian restaurant.
The eggplant is wonderously silky and luscious, and packed with aubergine flavour.
This is all the more impressive as all of it is skin-free – yet it is the skin with which we normally high degrees of flavour in eggplant cooking.
So much do we love this dish that we’ve even started talking about devising and publishing a western suburbs restaurant eggplant shoot-out!