I'm usually fairly careful when choosing a new place to eat. I mean, with so many good places to try why spend the cash and calories on poor food. So when I find a place lags way below my expectations I feel doubly disappointed, that in addition to the food I have wasted my time in choosing to eat there.
The Gourmet Dumpling Restaurant fits into that disappointing category. While the restaurant looked a bit daggy even for a suburban dumpling place, the menu had a good variety of dumplings and cheap eating type mains, and the comments about it on the web were pretty positive. However, of the four dishes tried one rated a pass, but only just, one was a marginal failure and the other two clear failures.
As the place is called Gourmet Dumpling I was expecting the dumplings to be their speciality and the only dish I would have given a bare pass was the steamed pork dumplings. On the plus side the size was generous, looked the part and had a nice meaty and tasty filling. On the downside they were quite thick skinned and fairly 'gluggy'.
The fried chicken and prawn dumplings were a clear fail though. These looked ok when they hit the table, but turned out to be undercooked in the middle - a big no no - and the skin so oily that the oil almost shot out when I bit into them. I am a big fan of fried prawn dumplings but these were probably the worst I have had.
Bad as the dumplings were, the mains were worse. The beef brisket noodle soup was very generous in size and tender. However, I suspect a lot of the reason for the tenderness is that it is difficult to make fat hard. Now I like a bit of fat with my beef but this seemed more fat than meat.
While the pork belly on rice was still too fatty, I felt that it was less so than the beef. The pork was reasonably flavoured and tender, the serving generous. However the rice was a bit hard and dry, which when combined with the fatty and mediocre pork rendered the dish another fail.
While this place is obviously quite popular with repeat customers, I don't get it at all. The food was worse than mediocre, the serving staff indifferent and the setup a bit nasty. Malvern is a dead spot food wise but there are still a number of places out there I'd like to try, Sugo, Cina and a new Uyghur restaurant in particular. I don't know if I caught them on a bad night but Gourmet Dumplings is definitely somewhere I won’t be returning to.
Food – 4
Service – 5
Ambience – 5
Price - 6 (big serves but lousy food)
71 Glenferrie Road
Malvern VIC 3143
Tel: (03) 9509 9718