91 Enmore Road
Newtown, NSW 2042
Sometimes all you need is a good plate of dumplings, but today I’m in a rather unusual place to be getting them – Newtown. But there’s a good reason for this; I wanted to chase my dumplings with yet another visit to my beloved MaPo. And after a quick search, I found Chinese Dumpling Master.
An outpost of Chinese Noodle House, a Chinatown stalwart, Chinese Dumpling Master is your classic minimal frills, maximum thrills eatery. People pop in and out for a plate of dumplings, a bowl of noodles, and maybe a casual stir fry or two to go with their BYO bottle. The only exception to that is the fake grape vines covering every inch of the ceiling; it should be tacky, but somehow it just works.
There are two types of steamed bao on the menu, but if you want the soup filled kind, aka XLB, the Soupy Pork Bun ($13.8, 10pcs) are the ones to order. These passed the first test with no dramas – they were able to be lifted easily out of the steamer without the delicate wrapper sticking and tearing. The soup inside was also well-done; light but full of umami flavour. The only shortcoming was the filling itself, which was rather loose, as opposed to the firm ball of mince it should be. However, that didn’t stop these from being a delight when eaten with a dash of the very excellent black vinegar.
Instead of the usual pork and cabbage dumplings, the stalwart here is the Pork and Chives ($7.8, half serve). You can have them steamed or fried, but I prefer them boiled. These were pretty par for the course; I wouldn’t come here specifically for them, but they’re not half bad if you’re craving dumplings, and the house-made chilli oil definitely kicked it up a notch.
To round out the dumpling feast – they no longer had the mapo tofu on rice I initially wanted – was the Wonton in Sichuan Chilli Sauce ($12.8). Ever since Hutong went downhill, I’ve been looking for a replacement for their legendary chilli wontons. Unfortunately these were not it, and were rather ordinary all up, but I did enjoy the smokiness and surprising heat in the chilli oil.
Chinese Dumpling Master is the most popular place for dumplings in Newtown, but given the relative dearth of authentic Chinese food in the area, I suspect this is more of a case of making the most of a bad situation. There’s certainly nothing wrong with Chinese Dumpling Master, and I wouldn’t be opposed to returning if someone else suggested it, but it just doesn’t have anything on the places you find out in the suburbs.
Rating: 11.5/20 – does the job.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.