The Tan Clan were visiting the builders for the new Chateau Bundoora on Albert Street so I scored an invitation to lunch and duties entertaining a four year old who likes to pretend she's a tiger. My preference would have been to visit Peko Peko, the go to place for a friend who lives in the area and a place I’ve never tried. However, with a hungry tiger roaring they want noodles and an hour till opening time for Peko Peko, Long Dragon Dumpling House it was.
To be honest, from the outside Long Dragon Dumpling doesn’t look like an attractive place to eat. It looks like it was adapted from a show room of some kind, blinds cover the large glass windows and my feeling was it was going to be very utilitarian inside. Wrong. They've actually done a very nice job with the space they have. It’s never going to win any design awards but I liked it. The chairs are comfortable, it’s well lit with natural light and despite becoming busy at lunchtime it never grew too noisy. It's been found by a good range of diners as well, from Chinese families with small kids to a couple of local hipsters.
Obviously given the name there are lots of dumpling options on the menu but the list of mains is also substantial. In fact the best dish of the day was the pork ribs with sweet and sour sauce. These were very different to your typical suburban or even Chinatown version of the dish. The sauce included a fairly generous amount of sweetened vinegar, which helps to cut through what was otherwise a pretty oily and fatty version of the dish. Both Tan sisters commented it was very similar to their mother used to cook pork ribs back home in Malaysia – I think I scored some ordering kudos for next time having chosen this.
To ensure the hungry tiger didn’t start on us we ordered her favourite fried noodles with combination seafood. This led to a terrible pun that took a surprisingly long time for the others to get (What, you didn’t order the mee for me?). It’s obviously not fine dining in quality and was a bit more oily than I really like, but it was nicely cooked, filling and full of squid and fish balls.
As you’d expect for a place with dumpling in the name the dumplings were good, a definite step up from the usual suspects around the place. The pan fried pork dumplings were perfectly cooked, not at all oily as you sometimes get and nicely balanced between pork and vegetable filling. They were a bit smaller than usual though and the filling less generous, so I wouldn’t put them at the absolute top of my dumpling heap.
You could make very similar comments about the boiled chicken and dumplings. Skins marginally thick but nicely flavoured, again spot on with the cooking and good filling that could have been a bit more generous.
It’s not the best dumpling place in town, in my opinion anyway, but if I was in the area and wanted dumplings I’d be happy to return or recommend to friends. Everything was nicely cooked and presented, the inside is much nicer than you’d anticipate and the staff, well their softly spoken English wasn’t always the easiest to hear or understand but they were friendly and courteous and laughed when we turned up to pay wearing our lion and tiger hats. Food was good and came out quickly, there was really nothing not to like about our visit.
Food – 7.5
Service – 7
Ambience – 7
Price – 7
322 Kings Way
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Tel: (03) 9682 1628