My ears pricked up when Benny organised a trip to Bayswater for dumplings. To me Bayswater had always just been a train station viewed on the way to Belgrave, often seen but never visited. The nearby shopping strip had never looked very inviting either, just another main road with a few locally oriented shops. More fool me I guess, judging a book by its cover.
When you enter the store it looks like another generic Shanghai dumpling style place. Maybe marginally cleaner and brighter than some but with the tiled floor with pictures of the Bund on one side and Pudong on the other fairly typical in style. Service is quick but with a bit of a huff, again not untypical for this style of place.
What is better than you'd expect though is the food. What I particularly liked were the wontons, which I thought were some of the tastiest going round. Combining good flavours in the filling with spot on cooking, it shouldn't be that hard but most places just don't get it right. In a real surprise I preferred the spinach and pork wontons more than the prawn and pork. You could taste the combination of the different flavours rather than just some meaty vegetable mixture. The prawn and pork wontons were also better than expected, although they didn't have the same clear, distinct flavours.
Favourites amongst most of the others though were the boiled Peking pork dumplings. Compared to the petite wontons these were much more generous in size, the skins not too thick so as to be gluggy and again nicely cooked. Doused with vinegar and soya sauce, what disappointed me a little was that I found the fillings a bit bland. I think I was alone in this however, as this was the one dish we ordered a second helping of.
Of course we also had to get some fried dumplings, and the pan fried pork dumplings are the easy go to solution when you don't want to think about it too much. Don't know who it is in the kitchen but 4 for 4 with the cooking spot on. Unfortunately though the filling wasn't as tasty as I'd have liked, and the dumplings had soaked up just a bit too much oil, leaving the pork and spinach wontons the winners.
Of course, man does not live by dumplings and wontons alone, and for balance we ordered the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Fairly generous with the sauce but nothing special, just some nicely steamed greens to go with the dumplings.
Final two dishes were a serve of the hot and sour soup and the fried Shanghai pancake. The pancake was my choice - I am a sucker for fried bready products. This version was certainly crisp on the outside, with some of the spring onion fragrance that you want. The soup came with a slight slick from the (chilli?) oil on top, giving it a bit of a spicy hit. Not something I'd ever tried before and not necessarily my thing, but nice enough.
Somewhere to come for the food, not the decor or service. The dumplings are good, not the best but certainly better than you'd expect from a randomly chosen place out in the suburbs. One thing which was noticeable was that we were hardly the first group to find this place, for the peak lunch service it was pretty well packed. If you're passing by and hit by those dumpling cravings certainly worth a quick stop.
Food - 7.5
Service - 6.5
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 8
735 Mountain Hwy
Bayswater VIC 3153
Tel: (03) 9729 6688