I love meeting up with people who suggest restaurants to try. Especially the city ones, I just don’t go out to the CBD enough to see which restaurants are busy and have long lines during lunchtime and don’t hear whispers of which places are great.
Shandong mama seems like a hidden gem to me but it seems like it’s actually really well known to most people who work in the city! My friend excitedly told me that she had been wanting to try this restaurant out for ages – last time she had queued up and secured a table for her group of friends, only to have them bail on her so this time, she was armed with a long list of recommendations and dishes she said we had to try.
I’m sure it is very rare to eat $22 per person at a dumpling restaurant. At least, it is unheard of for me. We ordered two dumplings – a boiled prawn, black fungus and chives one and the following pan fried mackerel dumpling. The dumplings were fantastic – I haven’t had such quality prawns, especially in any restaurant in Melbourne before. Fresh and a great flavour combination. The fish dumplings reminded me of the fish used to fill tofu or capsicums or bitter gourd – I would have never dreamt to put it in dumplings but it is a fantastic idea and something I have to try at home later if I can get my hands on some fresh fish paste or indeed, make my own… I also liked that they were pan fried and not deep fried – sometimes the latter can get a bit too fatty and filling for my liking.
Next was the homemade noodle with prawn, cucumber and bean paste – this was great. I don’t normally like such dishes because I find bean paste sauce a bit strong for my liking but this one had plenty of vegetables and the prawns again were fantastic.
We also tried their fish ball noodle soup – it was a nice clear broth and contrasted nicely with the noodles.
Unfortunately they had run out of their homemade sausage or else we would have ordered that too – having said that how much can two girls eat? All the dishes were great portion wise – normally I would order one dish for myself and that’s already plenty for dinner. We didn’t manage to finish our banquet – it is a great sign when waiters are concerned when patrons don’t finish their dumplings and ask why – luckily I was able to point out we had ordered three dishes and an appetiser between two!
If only Shandong mama was closer to home for me – I would love for my parents to try this restaurant but it seems like those lucky enough to work in the CBD will continue to hog this hidden gem – I wonder if they’ll ever consider opening another branch? Or maybe they sell frozen dumplings for cooking at home…
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