Tina’s Dumpling House, 54 Pier Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8851
Tina’s Dumpling House is a major arrival in Altona.
We’d be tempted to opine it is the best eating place in Altona, but …
Unlike just about all other media outlets who comment on Melbourne food – from the MSM through to hobbyists, all with their endless selective/definitive “Top 10” and “Melbourne’s greatest” lists – we won’t be doing that for the simple reason that we haven’t tried all the eating places in Altona.
So let’s just say that the food at Tina’s is very good and the prices and service righteous – so much so that Altona locals will surely ensure its success and residents of the wider west are advised to consider it a destination.
Indeed, in terms of quality for this kind of food, the prices are bang on par with what’s available elsewhere.
As well, most dumplings can be had in variable serving sizes of six or 12 pieces.
Of course, Tina’s is not just about dumplings – there’s a broad range of main courses, rice dishes and noodles available (see menu below).
And, yes, you can get here lemon chicken or sweet-and-sour pork if that is your bent.
Tina’s has taken over a Pier Street premises long home to a previous Chinese restaurant.
It’s a lovely room in which to sup.
The wait time of 15 to 20 minutes for dumplings is re-assuring in terms of knowing a house-made philosophy is in play.
Pan-fried pork-and-cabbage dumplings ($7.80 for six, $11.80 for 12, top photo) are terrific.
All too often, we find the meaty centres of such dumplings have a turd-like toughness – even good ones!
At Tina’s, the fillings are luscious and tender.
Steamed prawn dumplings ($7.80 for four) are just as good, with a full quotient of that essential bursty prawn effect going on.
Steamed BBQ pork buns ($6.80 for two) are, for me, a revelation.
We usually order these for bun fan boy Bennie, while I remain bemused and/or unimpressed.
This plump pair are superb and make a fan boy out of me – like son, like father.
The fluffy/moist buns are stuffed with a more generous than usual mix of hot, sticky chopped pork heavily perfumed with rice wine.
Beef brisket soup noodle is one of our regular choices, but always with egg noodles.
At Tina’s, we stumble into a rendition made with rice noodles, their whiteness imbuing the bowl with a pallidness that suggests bland.
But there’s no doubting the robustness of the broth or the pleasure to be had from the excellent, tender chunks of beef ($11.80).
Food lore tells us that there nothing Singaporean about Singapore fried noodles – just as there is nothing Chinese about egg foo young.
But that doesn’t mean a dish of “Singapore” fried noodles, often less oily than other Chinese wok-fried noodle dishes and with a fetching grittiness delivered by curry powder, cannot be immensely enjoyable and satisfying.
Tina’s version ($11) is a winner – hot, mildly spicy and with plenty of veg, meat and seafood.
And, yep, seafood extender.