Monday, 18 November 2013

Whumplings - Dumplings for White People

Whumplings” (definition: dumplings for white people).

Chapas” (definition: Chinese tapas).

Indeed, dumpling devotion is spreading and trending with the trendy. Chinese cooks have figured out that the average hipster has a wallet attached to his palette, and are catering accordingly.
"Melbourne Dumplings"

Pork & chive is now seemingly passé. Xia long bao is what haloumi was to last year’s barbeque.

And while I think unsmiling guys with neck beards and fixie bikes and skinny girls with sleeve tattoos intentionally exist to make me unhappy, I can see there are benefits of hipsterification when it comes to dumplings.

New ingredients, new cooking standards, new stuff for blog sampling… And, maybe a new way for an old dog to stop tricking himself.

Two dumpling houses – and part of me says dumplings must always be served in “houses” not restaurants – in Sydney and Melbourne are renovating and putting on edible extensions to conventional dumplings.

On a recent visit to the Melbourne place, I “over-listened” to three perfectly grungy models, talking about ‘they were like OMG gow gee – defo best ever’ and then asking their skateboarder / waiter if there were any organic options.

(Making this stuff up would make me feel even more old and obsolescent so trust me I’m not.)

The below table is laid with a few highlights from both.

Bamboo Dumpling Bar (140 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills)
  • Dumpling sampler plates available on Thursdays.
  • Edamame dumplings (eg, the salty Japanese green beans which rank as the only vegetable to inspire beer drinking). 
  • Ice cream dumplings (and don’t ask me how as some Fifth Law of Thermodynamics must be involved).

ShanDong Mama (Mid City Arcade, Shop 7, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne)

  • Choice of three different thickness of dumpling pastry.
  • The “Melbourne Dumpling” described as a ‘new contemporary recipe inspired by Australia’s multicultural food scene – with diced prawn, calamari, mussel, fish and chicken mince together with lemon rind, olive oil, parsley and garlic.’ 

Melbourne models aside, I take my anti-cynicism pills and remind myself of my companion on the visit to the Sydney joint, which is at the back of a inner city pub. (Come to think of it: "pub-lings".)

A big red-headed bloke raised in western Sydney who likes to bounce cricket balls at other big red-headed blokes’ heads. He found and suggested the place.

Hipsterism and him are definitely not joined at the hip. He’s a ginga out for a good feed. (Well, he's actually a lot more than that, and doing lots of good, but you get the point…)

Sure, there was an era when all I could do in the old Chinese dumpling houses was point at things at Chinese diners’ tables and hide the fact that I was spearing stuff (when I wasn’t hiding the vinegar running down my shirt, that is). 

It’s the splendid stuff of my self-righteous self-narrative - the smugness of He Who Dined There First. All concentric circles leading back to me.  

The truth is I was totally anonymous in those places. I’d go to them as some weird practice of enforced aloneness.
Not so trendy after all.

I wasn’t just the sole white guy. I was the intentionally invisible guy - hiding behind a barrier of culture and language. Solitary dumpling confinement.

Now, my tribe of whitefellas is there at the tables besides me, albeit they’re usually way younger and many kilo’s behind in their development.  Now, the tribe of Chinese fellas is dishing it up to suit our elaborate palettes – and their own prosperity. 

Good on them, I say, from my place in the crowd.

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