Word about the newest and in my view the best dumpling house in the Carnegie area is getting around, with the hungry hordes of local dumpling lovers gathering despite some already well established fan favourites in the area. It's not quite at that queuing out the door stage yet, but it is getting there amazingly quickly for a place that opened with no fanfare whatsoever.
What makes it so good? The obvious effort being put into making the restaurant a nice place to eat is a good start. Well lit, clean, well spaced tables, not too noisy, all the essentials are there for a functional but pleasant dumpling house. I like the staff a lot as well. Once or twice they did seem a little nervous which led me to think they may have been inexperienced, but they were polite, friendly and obviously trying very hard.
The most important thing about a dumpling house though is of course the dumplings. It wouldn't have mattered how good the service was if these weren't as good or better. Making a number of visits meant that I got the chance to sample quite a few and I can confirm that they are the best flavoured I have tried in suburban Melbourne.
One thing that any Shanghai style dumpling house in Melbourne has to offer is shao long bao, here listed on the menu as Shanghai pork buns. For many diners these are the crux of their dumpling experience, good SLB all good, bad SLB all bad. Fortunately these were pretty good. Admittedly the skins could have been thinner and a bit of ginger either in the soup or served sliced on the side would had perked things up a bit. However, these were generous with their slightly sweet soup resulting in a rich mouth filling taste.
The other steamed dumpling dish was the perennial favourite of steamed chicken and prawn. These were again good, the filling sweet and generous, the dumpling skins a little thick but a beautiful pristine white colour.
Probably my least favourite amongst the dumplings was the fried pork dumplings. This is being a bit tough though, as in many places these would have been the stand out. In a bit of a theme the filling was very good, the bottom of the pan fried dumpling crisp providing contrast to the softer top. Rather than being poor or below average, it was more nothing really stood out to me about these.
Leaving the best to last, my clear favourites were the pan fried pork buns. These aren't that commonly available, thicker skinner pan fried dumplings but filled with soup like fried SLB. In a twist I hadn't seen before these had been topped (bottomed?) with sesame seeds, combining with the dumpling skin to give it an almost bread like texture and taste. Great flavour, great texture, the only issue to watch out for is how hot the soup can be when you first bite into it.
It's not all about the dumplings though, with a variety of soups and claypot dishes also offered. With winter still upon us the ranzhou beef noodle soup with coriander, preserved cabbage and bok choy was a tasty way to ward off the winter chill. The beef is tender, the noodles had bite and the serving size is generous in its huge bowl.
What can I say? Carnegie is becoming a very competitive location for cafes and restaurants and Eastern Dumpling House is a great new addition. One thing that was noticeable was the number of multi-generational Chinese families who were dropping in for a dumpling fix. If it continues to reach the same high levels as during my visits I think it will become a bit of an eastern suburbs foodie destination, and I think they deserve it.
Food - 8
Service - 8
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 7.5
132 Koornang Road
Carnegie VIC 3163
Tel: (03) 9530 9141