Monday, October 31, 2011

Everyone has nice dumplings!

So say the people at

a quaint restaurant attached to the Commonwealth Pub in Surry Hills. It's the sort of place you envisage finding in a backstreet off the main road in Shanghai. Walking into this place was like getting on a plane and landing in an exotic location without the body-draining experience of air travel.

The ceiling was hung with bird cages of all shapes and sizes doubling as lanterns and yes, that is a bicycle!

An eclectic mix of bench seating and cowhide covered stools (which would have been at home in a Texan bar) along with row upon row of narrow picnic-style tables formed the furnishings; not unlike a pop-up restaurant which vanishes without a trace in the morning; except that the buzz and hum generated by the volume of patrons would seem to indicate that this place is not closing down any time soon!

Chosen as the venue for a business mixed with pleasure lunch, it was the perfect combination of informal food mixed with variety and plentiful flavours. We chose to have the Banquet 2 Menu at $29.95 per head but a la carte offers all the same dishes with 5 portions per dish

We ate:

Peking Duck Pancakes

BBQ Pork Buns

Asian Vegetable Spring Rolls

Chilli Prawn Spring Rolls

Pork & Chive Dumplings
Edamame Dumplings

Prawn Gow Gees

Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Chicken & Water Chestnut Wontons

BBQ Pork with Soy Fusion Dressing

Salt & Pepper Squid with Thai Chilli Sauce

Asian Greens with Oyster Sauce

and Jasmine Rice - well, you know what that looks like!

It was difficult to walk out of there with dignity when we felt like stuffed cushions.
My one gripe with the food was that after the first couple of dishes, which came out singly, allowing us to savour the flavour before moving onto the next delicacy, the remaining dishes appeared almost all at once which meant that some of the dishes had cooled by the time we got to sample them. While this may not matter say with the BBQ Pork or Peking Duck Pancakes which are served cold anyway, dumplings should always be served hot, straight out of the steamer, so you even have to blow on them before you dare put them to your lips. My enjoyment of the last few varieties was coloured by this, but also I think (because my eyes are always bigger than my stomach!) I was pretty full by then as well.

My other gripe had to do with the bench seating, which was so narrow that an average sized bottom (and I'm a size 10 in the rear end according to my wardrobe) did not sit comfortably on it. You were either perched on the front edge and finely balanced so as not to fall forward or had your backside hanging precariously off the back edge and forced to lean forward to ensure you didn't tumble backwards. I half suspect that this is not a place where you are encouraged to linger, rather to drop in, eat and go on your merry way - just as it would be in old Shanghai.


  1. Ohhh how lovely are those chopsticks holder! I want them!

  2. I like that there are a few dishes that are not run of the mill. The edamame dumplings are a dish I really would like to try.

  3. LOL I like that saying that everyone has nice dumplings-very cute! And nice range of dumplings there! :)

  4. I do like the scenery and vibe it gives off! Now I feel like yumcha :P

  5. I'm mad about dumplings. Not sure I could balance mine off the edge of a very narrow bench though! GG