Friday, 4 October 2013

Sydney's Dumpling Deluge and Wonton Wave versus My Ego

I don’t like being overtaken by events, but I know it’s almost always a good thing.

So it is with my dumpling devotion. It’s very rapidly gone from being “one of Shmigel’s forgivable eccentricities”, as a colleague generously described it, to me being just another member of the epicurean peloton.

I have fallen off my leading edge, and my ample bum has landed on the bench in the bullpen where the moustachioed long-relievers try not to check their phones.

It’s official. We are awash in the wonton wave; there is a deluge of dumplings across Sydney.

Dumplings are popping up more than pop-up’s in all sorts of places – pedestrian tunnels of train stations, suburban shopping centre food courts, and on my favourite meerkat Alesandr Orlov’s Internyets. (I insert here totally random but amusing video. Simples.)

Now that you're back... At approximately the same rate that mummies are not mummies without their own mummy blog, there’s a Chinese dumpling house opening in Sydney every proverbial. 

Even digital dumplings. There’s now a dumpling supplier who’s Facebook-bombing me. (Hmm... that's a scary search algorithm.)

Here’s some dumpling developments:

·      My Chef’s Gallery (Shop G24 Metcentre, 273 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (Entrance from George or Jamison Streets; When you are running to the office from Wynyard train station to get to that early meeting, and suddenly decide your sanity is more important than your client, this is where you can hit the pause button over decent dumplings in a quasi “Hello Kitty” setting. They’re open from 8am to 8pm so you can do an encore on the way home. Consumer warning: they’ve got a fishbowl out the front for watching the dumpling makers, which makes me at least feel kinda creepy.

·      Lotus Dumpling Bar (3/16 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, across the street from the Sydney Dance Company, Dumplings for the cultural cognoscenti in the theatre and dance district. The black-painted walls and upscale pricing contrast the Chinese ladies sipping tea from chipped mugs while producing really good dumplings – including mushroom filling in spinach rice dough.

·      Lok Lok Dumpling Bar(s) (; six locations in food courts across Sydney: Hornsby Westfield, Parramatta Westfield, Rhodes Shopping Centre; Miranda Westfield, Castle Hill Castle Towers, Waringah Shopping Centre). You can steal McDonald’s free Wi-Fi while munching on their mass-produced but surprisingly good fare. They do a couple of nice variations on theme: triangle-shaped dumplings with chicken mince, or pan-fried xia long bao (Shang-hai soup-inside dumplings which are almost always steamed).

·      Dumpling Hut ( This is an on-line dumpling dealer that I haven’t tried yet, but how about this offer: “a free Chinese steamer basket with your first order!” Steak knives have been laid to rest.

As all of this dumpling ubiquity arises, as everybody from Surry Hills hipsters to Baulkham Hills hip-replacements becomes au fait with jiao ji, I have my reminders:

·      Chinese dumplings – like Ukrainian vushka dumplings at Christmas – sprang from feasts of sharing. By contrast, there’s that feast of self-indulgence in Monty Python where the guy explodes at his table. I don’t want to explode.
·      The world is definitely not my exclusive oyster – or my potsticker. I am thankfully insignificant.
·      Annica is the Thai Buddhist notion that everything is impermanent. Everything changes; everything ends. I can’t control it.
·      And, it all is beyond our reach. That’s entirely okay because what is not in our reach is probably held by a Higher Power who is much smarter.

Tim Minchin recently and remarkably riffed on some similar stuff: Life is meaningless…  The only sensible thing to do with this empty existence is to fill it.” . Just as we fill and are filled by our daily dumpling.

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