19th November 2015
Shop 8, Vermont South Shopping Centre
Vermont South, 3133
Strangely enough, Glen Waverley has slowly slipped into a dearth of good Chinese food. Now I don’t mean southern Chinese food – Dainty Sichuan and Chong Qing Hot Pot takes care of that. What I mean is good, hearty northern Chinese food. Whereas Glen Waverley used to have the legendary Bob’s Kitchen, now even the substitute of Raramen has closed down, in light of repeated food safety offences. So now whenever I feel the urge for some good dumplings, I have to head all the way out to Box Hill. Now imagine my surprise when on one visit to the local shopping centre, I found that the charcoal chicken shop has been replaced with Ramen and Dumpling House.
Other people in the area seemed to be having the same thoughts, because when we arrived on a Friday night, one week after opening, we found a massive queue of people waiting for both tables and take-away. The interior is nothing flash, but it’s new, clean, and miles above the old and grungy chicken shop.
It ended up taking about half an hour for us to get seated; turnover was fairly slow, and we attributed that to the somewhat erratic service. However I am more than happy to put that down to teething issues, and the staff were enthusiastic and friendly to make up for it. The menu was enormous, and also rather eclectic. There was everything from thick northern Chinese braises to spicy southern Chinese stir-fries, all the way down to fresh Cantonese flavours and dim sum. There were even some Malaysian and faux-Asian dishes here and there. Though it seems a little dubious from my perspective, it is actually a rather clever move – there’s enough variety here to draw in almost anyone and everyone.
Keen to have a place close by where we could get take-away dumplings, we gave the Boiled Pork Dumplings ($8.8, 15pcs) a go. The skin was lovely; even in thickness and not the least bit gluggy. The filling however was a bit of a let-down. Although the flavour was spot-on, with a good combination of meat and veggies, there was just not enough of it, and each dumpling ended up feeling a bit deflated. All things considered however, these certainly hit the mark, especially with some vinegar and the house-made chilli oil.
Mapo Tofu on Rice ($9) is a favourite of both my sister’s and mine, so we had to order it. Once again, this was quite different from the oily, almost overly-seasoned dishes that I’m used to eating. The delicate cubes of tofu were in a much lighter (but still flavoursome!) sauce of chilli bean paste, and the addition of pork strips gave it a more well-rounded and meaty flavour. Umami was the predominant flavour here, and it was nice to be able to eat this dish without seeing a puddle of grease at the bottom of the plate.
The Fish Fillets with Pickled Vegetables Broth ($17.8) was mum and dad’s choice, and it was certainly great value for money. The soup wasn’t as tangy as we would’ve liked, but the peppercorns were fresh and zingy. All in all, it was extremely satisfying to have the tender fish fillets and light fish soup on a bed of rice.
So was Ramen and Dumpling House as great as the oft-lamented Bob’s Kitchen? Not really. In fact, it wasn’t anything brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. But here’s the thing – we don’t need it to be. What we were after is a cheap and cheerful local that serves up home-styled food for whenever we don’t feel like cooking, and Ramen and Dumpling House was exactly that.
Rating: 12.5/20 – ol’ faithful.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.