Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ping's Dumpling Kitchen, Clayton by Big Fil

I quite like Clayton. It rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as a Springvale or Footscray in terms of eating options and it's smaller than either. However, even a casual walk down the street offers a wide variety of potential eating styles: Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Korean, Turkish, Greek and Italian.

I don't get down there as often as I used to but one place that always seems quite busy at meal times is Ping's Dumpling Kitchen. Located near Monash University it combines all the ingredients of a classic student style eatery - brusque but efficient service, minimal amounts spent on the d├ęcor, cheap but filling food - but compared to most suburban dumpling houses it just seemed that bit cleaner, the food just that bit better.

Taking my usual approach to ordering, mainly familiar favourites but if possible one or two things never tried before, Prowler and I concentrated on dishes which were easy to share. While this meant we were unable to delve into the extensive range of soups we were able to sample a selection of dumplings and noodles. First up were two almost mandatory dumpling choices, the fried pork and the boiled chicken and prawn.

While it isn't necessarily fair to make judgements based on a single visit, having been to a few suburban dumpling places recently I thought Ping's was the best of the bunch. The skin on the perfectly cooked chicken and prawn dumplings successfully avoided the trap of being gluggy and the filling was very good.

Again the pork dumplings were nicely cooked, crispy on the bottom and a little softer on top, with the pork and vegetable filling well balanced.

Also hitting the mark were the Shanghai Fried Noodles. While a step below the dumplings in quality nevertheless still a decent serve of tasty, slippery noodles. In particular the noodles were still al dente and not smothered in sauce, a pet personal hate. The major issue was the slightly tired vegetables.

To finish off our meal we went for a dish which was new to me, the fried chestnut pancake. Similar in appearance but with a different coloured filling to fried red bean pancakes this was a little oilier than I would have liked but the chestnut paste filling was hot and sweet.

Not fine dining but from the cheap and cheerful side of the suburban Chinese restaurant family, Ping's is one of those places where you don't get the world but you do get more than you pay for. Particularly if you're not really familiar with this style of food you'll probably spend longer deciding what to order than waiting for your food, and in the meantime there's always the free tea.

Food - 7.5
Service - 6.5
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 8

330 Clayton Road
Clayton VIC 3168
Phone: (03) 9558 8831

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