When I think of dumplings I think of three words: fast, cheap and convenient. Taste, unfortunately, comes a lonely fourth. Sure dumplings can be tasty morsels of pre-packaged meat, but they don't come close to a burger or curry.
But that's okay because dumplings still fill an important niche in our busy metropolitan lives. In between movie dates and drinking at bars, we flood dumpling houses, scoffing enough food to keep us going for the night.
Speed (and arguably salt) are what make dumpling houses awesome. When the birthday girl is stomping her feet at your tardiness, quickly turning Hulk-like, every second away from her party is one second closer to 'me smashey'.
This place is best known for playing 'Happy Birthday' at random intervals. I don't know why they do this but it gives the joint the feel of a German Drinking Hall. At 3 minutes for dumplings (fried or steamed) this place seems like the ultimate eat-on-the-go joint. But Saturday revellers be warned, on Saturday night it becomes a $15 all you can eat dumpling house with a giant queue.
Being seated at Shanghai Village was like being whisked through a blur of narrow stairways and big eating rooms. At 12.11 minutes for both fried and steamed, this place was one of the slower dumpling houses. It also had the worst dumplings and made us feel sick. On a good note, the Saturday crowd was strangely attractive. So if you are not concerned about time pressures, or taste, you can enjoy the eye candy.
269 Swanston St
Fried: 3.46 minutes
Steamed: 12.11 minutes
Dumpling Plus is perfect for a quick meal before the movies or the Toff. Entering this place was another kaleidoscopic adventure of stairs and unending hallways, but the dumplings were tasty and came relatively fast (although there was a big variation between the plate times).
206 Bourke St, Shop 6
Cost: 8- 18
Fried: 7.40 minutes
Steamed: 6.32 minutes
China Red has gone for a futuristic 'order on a computer approach'. Which is kind of cool and means that when it is busy, the waiting staff are under less pressure. The dumplings here were decent and fast. China Red is also near Roxanne Parlour and Euro Trash Bar
North East Family House
302 Flinders Ln
Steamed: 14.21 minutes
Fried: 20 minutes
This was one of the more sophisticated looking dumpling houses. The dumplings here took the longest, were the most expensive, but also tasted the best. This is less a cheap, fast meal joint, and more of a cute restaurant. It is also not as close as the other dumpling houses to any big bars.