It was the name that drew us in. Bling Bling Dumpling? How could we refuse? The former site of Dim Sum House has undergone only a modest makeover. Most noticeable is the striking black signage out the front, complete with an image of a huge sparkling diamond - guaranteed to draw in the crowds!
A display case of cooked dumplings is a clever marketing ploy for passing pedestrian traffic, and we noticed several shoppers, students and local workers stop by for a quick takeaway order.
Dumpling maker in the window
On the other side of the doorway is the view into the cooking area, although the red masking tape pattern on the glass windows seems to create more of a prison feel than a friendly view into the open kitchen.
Rolling out dumpling dough
The dumpling mistress stops for noone, rolling out perfectly round circles of dough with speed and precision, before filling them with a paste of vegetables or meat.
Dumpling boiler and steamer baskets
The kitchen is stacked high with steamer baskets, so it all feels rather promising as we walk in.
Inside Bling Bling
What does Bling Bling mean in the world of dumplings? In terms of decor, it means a fancy chandelier, rosewood-look chairs and tables covered in three layers of plastic sheeting, one of which is silver and glittery.
Bling Bling Coke $3
An order of Coke comes out blinged up with a strawberry and lemon garnish. Our pot of tea is much slower to arrive, requiring two reminders to distracted staff.
Salt and pepper calamari $19.80
I'm always a sucker for salt and pepper calamari, but we struggle to get through this version. The dish is limp and oily, with the coating still a little gluey from undercooking - although at least this means the calamari is still tender. It's a shame as there's plenty of good flavour from the fresh chilli, garlic and caramelised shallots.
Braised eggplant $13.80
The braised eggplant is a little oily too, but the flesh is sweet and the drenching of thick and spicy sweet sauce is a perfect accompaniment to our rice.
Handmade Manchurian burger with beef $9.80
The Manchurian burger is let down by the dry bun, tasting more like a sandwich made with yesterday's roast beef. A moment of inspiration sees me adding chunks of the saucy eggplant to the burger, which makes a significantly tasty difference.
And you can't have a burger without fries, right? Unfortunately these arrive cold and limp - even a heavy dusting of chicken salt can't save them.
Steamed egg and chive dumplings
We'd encountered some oddities when we ordered our dumplings, advised that they didn't have any pan-fried egg and chive dumplings, only steamed. We weren't sure what to make of this, especially when the dumplings arrived freshly cooked. Perhaps they use different skins for steamed and pan-fried dumplings?
We do manage to convince our waitress to allow us to split an order of a dozen dumplings ($9.80) into two different preparations. The steamed garlic chive dumplings are delivered toward the end of our meal, packed into a wooden steamer lined with a thick rubber seal.
The skins are quite thick but the filling is hearty and especially fragrant with garlic chives.
Pan-fried pork and chive dumplings
The pan-fried pork and chive dumplings have a luscious golden crust on the bottom, delivering a much-welcomed crunch. We dunk them into saucers of soy sauce and vinegar.
Overall it's a little hit-and-miss. There are some interesting dishes like pancakes with Peking sauce shredded pork ($19.80), although the Manchurian fried ice cream ($5.80) is probably a bit of a stretch!
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9/23/2011 01:46:00 am