As Brisbane’s palate continues to become more worldly, more places that specialise in dumplings have been opening. Golden Dumpling, in Sunnybank’s Sunny Park, is one such dumpling-centric eatery. It is not exactly new, having been open for at least a few months now. We had walked past it numerous times on the way to other restaurants (like Southside Bistro just around the corner), telling ourselves “next time”. Well, eventually the time came.
As we walked towards the restaurant, we could see that it looked packed. We peered hopefully in, and one of the staff members apologetically told us that all the indoor tables were indeed occupied. There were a few seats free in the outside seating area, but given the hot weather, we decided that waiting for indoor seating in air-conditioning was worth it, particularly given the prospective hot dumplings we were going to be eating. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long a wait at all, and we were soon waved in.
The inside of the restaurant is well-lighted. The interior walls are a barely perceptible shade of light green, easily mistaken for yellowish instead. Some pictures of food hang on the walls, and one of the walls also has recesses in which miniature replicas of what look like terracotta figures stand. Brown-tiled floors and laminex-topped tables complete a rather casual look. The kitchen is glass-fronted, so you can see how much labour goes into making your dumplings. There was no music playing when we were there.
Menus in the form of a double-sided laminated sheet were brought to us. Bowls and chopsticks were already at the table, as was a container of water. Cold or warm water are available self-service style at the side, near another counter where there is an array of sauces you can help yourself to as dumpling accompaniments. There is another small whiteboard of specials on the side, but you have to be able to read Chinese characters to know what is available. With options like pig’s ears in chilli oil though, they may not be things those not in the know would want to order anyway..
Being there for dumplings, we chose a selection of dumpling dishes. They are available in various styles, namely boiled, fried, in hot and sour soup, or as wontons, with differing numbers of them in each serve depending on the style (15 boiled, 12 fried, 10 wonton). We also ordered shallot pancakes, an egg and chive pancake, and the braised pork spare ribs.
The braised pork spare ribs were brought to the table first. Stacked on the plate, they are a different cut from what those more used to western cuisine may have come across, and don’t necessarily look appealing, in their rather uniform tan brown colour. On first bite, however, you will discover why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The meat was tender, a good balance between being soft and retaining gelatinous chew. It had delicious spice flavours, and wasn’t over-seasoned. Plastic gloves accompany them, as not everyone can manage with chopsticks alone.
The shallot pancakes were next to arrive. They were, as they should be, piping hot. They were laminated, like prata, and had a similar sort of crisp on the outside, chewy and doughy on the inside texture. They were a touch oily though. We thought they could have had more shallots, but they weren’t bad.
The egg and chive pancake was, as promised, both eggy and chivey. Unlike the shallot pancake, this was more like a calzone or curry puff in form. It had a crunchy outer skin, and a filling of lots of chives and morsels of scrambled cooked egg. It was not quite what we expected, but also not bad.
The fried lamb dumplings were first to arrive. They were done in a similarly rustic style to Shandong Mama in Melbourne, wrapped cylinders instead of sealed all the way around, and with a crispy shared base. The meat was juicy and appropriately seasoned, and had a good amount of flavour in the mix, without being tellingly gamey. Unlike at Shandong Mama, the dumplings could actually be separated so that the skins didn’t all tear when you tried to pull them apart, and the meat filling didn’t fall out as soon as you took the first bite. The fried crunchy skin added a nice contrasting texture.
The steamed pork and dill dumplings were next. They had the more typical purse-like shape. The skin was not Din Tai Fung refined, but also not too thick or doughy. The meat was again seasoned and juicy, and there was certainly a lot of dill in it. It was listed as one of the chef’s specialities, but if you don’t love dill, this probably won’t appeal to you, as after the first few, it can be overpowering.
We also had pork and mushroom dumplings in hot and sour soup. The dumplings had a similar form to the boiled dumplings. The soup looked potent, with plenty of chilli flakes floating about on the surface. It wasn’t actually too spicy unless you got a large cluster of chilli flakes in your mouthful though, and not as powerfully sour as in some other places. The good thing about that is that you can add more chilli and vinegar from the condiments on the side as suits your taste, rather than it being too strong to eat. You can put more in, but you can’t take it out once there.. The dumplings themselves had a good amount of chopped mushroom mixed in with the minced pork filling. We fished most of them out early, so they didn’t get soggy from being immersed in the soup for too long, but that might be a risk for slower eaters to consider.
Waitstaff were efficient and friendly.
Golden Dumpling certainly holds its own among the dumpling eateries around, and is worth the venture out of the city. There probably is no better testament than that we ate there three times within a week, and we found them to be consistently tasty..
Price point: Dumplings $12.80 to $14.80 per serve. Pancakes $3.80 per serve. Other sides $4 to $6 per serve.
Value: Pretty good.
Address: Shop 47, 342 McCullough Street, Sunny Park Shopping Centre, Sunnybank
Phone: 07 3216 9558
Website: Golden Dumpling