140 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Another Dumpling House
Ever since hearing about this newly opened dumpling place in Surry Hills I've been tempted to try it — because I love eating dumplings and the decor looked so cool. Residing in the Royal Albert Hotel this is the second restaurant to open after Potts Point and Balmain sounds like it will be their third with possibly Bondi after that. It's hard not to compare the Asian food offerings of this restaurant to all others tried before. I found the Pork and prawn shu mei ($8.50/5 pieces) were your pretty standard yum cha style and I still rate the Scallop and Prawn Siu Mai from Palace Chinese as my favourite variation. The Peking duck pancakes with hoi sin sauce ($12/3 pieces) are served in soft warm pancakes with a tasty duck meat filling but my fond memories of the larger and meatier BBQ King version in Haymarket complete with shallot and fresh chilli still reside supreme for me (they were 2 for $12 last time I visited).
Today's chef special of Chicken and prawn laksa ($10) is a nice blend of flavours using udon noodles instead of the traditional thin rice vermicelli noodles. It's a lot more milky coconut in flavour than the fuller tasting broth of Malay Chinese but I still enjoy it. Decent amounts of coriander on top give it a nice freshness with some kaffir lime as well I think in the broth. I've lost count on how many different styles of salt and pepper squid I've come across and their Salt and pepper squid with thai chilli ($15.50) is an enjoyable one. It has a tasty coating of spices without being overly indulgent in heat combined with a very tender squid inside. The coating reminds me of the version I've had at Arthouse Hotel but this one has a crispier coating more to my liking. Other variations I've enjoyed are at Golden Swallow, Pho 236 and Palace Chinese Restaurant. The thai chilli seems to be a bottled sweet and sour sauce with fresh pieces of coriander in it. Pork and chive dumplings ($8.50/5 pieces) are apparently one of their most popular choices along with the Prawn Har Gow. Simple and classic they provide decent flavour from the filling although you'll get more dumpling for your dollar at Sea Bay Dumplings but perhaps not as refined in presentation and ingredients.
When I visited today there were about 10 people dining during lunch time and service was especially fast with orders coming out in less than 5 minutes for most things. Apparently Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest when it gets packed so choose your timing well.
• Cherry Picked - 11 May 2010
• He Needs Food - 8 May 2010
• The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry - 18 April 2010
PROS: Fast and friendly service, Interesting decor, Lots of tempting choices on the menu
CONS: Can get expensive after ordering a few things, Smallish seating and tables, Can get very busy Fri and Sat nights, No free Chinese tea
MUST TRY: Salt & Pepper Squid
WORTH A TRY: Chicken & Prawn Laksa
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