Eat here: One Noodle Friendship, Melbourne

One Noodle Friendship
417-419 High St, Preston

The gentrification that’s taking over the northern suburbs at the moment is a bit of a double-edged sword. There are some amazing places popping up now with food my parents’ generation (who used to live around the Preston/Thornbury area) never would have dreamed of. On the down side, there’s always the risk of the golden oldies disappearing. The thing I love most about living in this area are these golden oldies – while I love a good hipster brunch establishment as much as the next Gen Y-er,I love even more the dodgy looking coffee shops with small piles of biscuits indiscernible to anyone not Italian and old men gathered out the front, the Turkish places with piles of rustic and inconsistently sized cheese-stuffed pastries as high as the counter, the Asian restaurants that have some suspicious looking meats hanging from hooks in the front window and are packed to the rafters.

Preston’s High Street has always been home to a lot of Asian eateries, and they’re all well priced and delicious. A lot of the staff don’t speak English and menu items are often misspelt. One Noodle Friendship is one of these; down an arcade-like alley off High Street, it’s a little place with an open kitchen, wonky old thermoses on the tables with hot tea, and boxes of tissues in place of napkins. We’ve eaten there a few times since moving into the area a few years ago, and I love it; their handmade noodles are insane! The fried handmade noodles with beef is my favourite dish…

They also do a lot of noodle soups, kindly serving the soup on the side so you can play around with it and add as you please. While the flavours are great, they’re not overly different to anyone else’s; it’s the noodles you have to visit for. They’re outstanding, and comfortably the best I’ve had on the High Street strip, and there are a lot of good noodles on that street. The dumplings are unreal, too – particularly the fried pork ones. Highly recommend a side of those.

Don’t expect anything fancy here – it’s basically Asian street food undercover. You can roll up in your trackies. You can use plastic chop sticks. The menu has spelling errors, there’s often tea leaking from the thermos on your table, and the staff don’t speak a whole lot of English. But there’s nothing pretentious about it; it’s good, authentic food made the way it’s meant to be, and I hope this never loses out to the rejuvenation of the area.

One Noodle Friendship Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Yummy Yummy Dim Sum, San Francisco

Yummy Yummy
758 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, USA

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Our first day in San Francisco was a pretty big one; Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Ghiradelli, Lombard Street.. There was a lot going on. Except for food.

We’d had a bit of a situation the night before at the airport, flying to the city from LAX, which necessitated dinner being a bag of Bugles just before boarding. Breaky was provided by the hotel and eaten on the run in transit to Alcatraz, and lunch was a quick seafood cocktail at Fisherman’s Wharf. Come dinner time, it was decided that a proper sit down meal was needed, and we figured the best place to find something delicious and at a decent price would be Chinatown – that’s always the place to check first in these situations!

We took the same approach we usually take – if it looks super busy with heaps of locals, it’s probably good. This place seemed pretty popular, and not another backpack or tourist in sight. Looked a bit sketchy from the outside, sure, but the food…

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For around USD$30 (including tip) we feasted on BBQ pork, pot stickers and the most insanely oversized pile of house fried noodles I have EVER seen in my life! Having unwittingly yet comfortable ordered enough food for 3, we nommed our way through some of the best Chinese either of us have had in a very long time. Oh, and we got complimentary fortune cookies at the end of the meal, too! Not sure how accurate mine was though..

Looks can be deceiving; if you’re in San Francisco and looking for something other than burgers and fries, hit up Yummy Yummy!

Eat here: HuTong Dumpling Bar, Melbourne

HuTong Dumpling Bar, Melbourne CBD
http://www.hutong.com.au

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Melbourne’s dumpling trend seems to have passed (our latest obsessions are American diner style food and Asian street food), yet HuTong Dumpling Bar is still consistently a top 5 fixture on Urbanspoon’s most popular restaurants (on the moderately priced list). So, when it seems that for the most part the city has moved onto the next big fad, how is it that HuTong is still so popular and so relevant?

Traditionally, a HuTong is a narrow alley or lane way in China, consisting of a number of traditional courtyard residences, particularly prominent in Beijing. Appropriate, considering you need to make your way down the alley that is Market Lane, in the heart of Melbourne’s pulsing CBD. If you’re turning up for dinner or a weekend lunch and don’t have a reservation, expect a wait. I’m normally very anti-waiting to be fed, but this is one of the few places I will advocate a short delay for.

This most recent visit of mine was after work on Friday night with a good friend, also a dumpling fiend. We’d both had one of those weeks, and needed wine, quick service and incredible dumplings to dull the pain of our mundane Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 lives.

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We got in pretty early, 5:30pm (right on opening time) and were promptly seated down stairs. If you can get a seat upstairs, that’s even better – the atmosphere is electric and you no longer feel like you’re in the heart of Melbourne’s business district. That said, downstairs is where you get front row seats to the show that is professional dumpling making. This girl took little lumps of dough and rolled them into perfectly formed circles, the likes of which I’d need a cookie cutter to achieve. We watched, completely mesmerised, until we realised we probably needed to order if we wanted to eat them any time soon – we’d been seated 10 minutes and there was already a line at the door.

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We ordered four plates of dumplings:

  • Shao-long Bao
  • Pan fried dumplings
  • Crab meat and prawn dumplings
  • Duck meat dumplings

They started coming out within 5 minutes of ordering, which we’re putting down to the fact that we got in early before the Friday night mayhem really began. Whatever, we were happy!

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The Shao-long Bao were first out, and are their signature and most delicious dumplings. Delicate, steamed little parcels filled with the most magnificent broth, pork and prawn, they’re best left a few minutes to cool if you’re like me and want to pop the whole thing in your mouth at once so you can get that whole (literal) flavour explosion in your mouth. You could also take the classier route and nibble the parcel a little to release some of the steam, suck out the broth and delicately eat the rest of the dumpling. Or not.

The crab meat and duck meat dumplings were delicious too, translucent skins somehow simultaneously packed full of flavour and very subtle at the same time. Last out were the pan fried pork dumplings, a favourite of mine. All magnificently uniform and standing to attention on their crispy base, they are meaty and juicy – the ultimate (albeit unexpected) comfort food.

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If you’re a dumpling lover, there’s not much on the menu that will disappoint you. They do main meals as well, which are also delicious, but they’re so well known for their dumplings that it’s hard to order anything else! HuTong sometimes gets a bad wrap because, for dumplings, it’s not super cheap (we paid around $65 for 20 dumplings and 4 glasses of wine), but I honestly believe that you get what you pay for, and these dumplings are worth a little more. So, while Melbourne may be past it’s dumpling epidemic, we still appreciate good and authentic food, which is why while the other food fads continue to come and go, HuTong will most likely continue to be relevant and top 5 worthy.

 

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Maney’s Dumplings, Melbourne

Maney’s Dumplings, Bundoora, Melbourne
http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1559031/restaurant/Melbourne/Maneys-Dumpling-Bundoora

 

Maney’s is a northern suburbs institution and absolute favourite of locals, for two simple reasons:
1. The food is simple, yet ridiculously delicious.
2. The food is crazy cheap. As in, 12 – 15 dumplings (each dumpling around half the size of my fist) for under $10.00. Shit by Asian standards, absolute bargain by Melbourne’s!

It’s a little place on an inconspicuous little corner behind the main shopping plaza, always busy, yet you’re always met with a greeting and a smile within seconds of walking through the front door. We eat here relatively regularly because of the reasons above, and thought it was worth sharing – sometimes the suburbs really have some incredible hidden gems. This is particularly amazing because Bundoora may be situated in one of the most Caucasian parts of Melbourne – you’d never think that you’d be able to find spot on Chinese food there!

Our order doesn’t change a heap from visit to visit (if it ain’t broke..) – husband and I always share a plate of the fried pork dumplings (12 pieces for $9.50, and they are not small!)

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

After the dumplings, we get a main each – what we order varies, but my favourite is the Shanghai fried noodles ($9.00 for a plate piled precariously high). The noodles are great and soft, the sauce is incredible and in no way re-creatable at home, it’s just a damn good plate of food!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Husband likes to try something new each time; this time he settled on the Hot Spicy Chicken Noodle ($8.50, massive serving – he didn’t finish it!). I’m not a fan of anything of the hot and spicy variety, but he is, and he loved it!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

It’s not fancy or over the top – it feels like walking into an auntie’s house, and being served up some good home cooking. Because that’s what it tastes like – it’s not the usual Chinese-by-numbers crap that you usually find in the suburbs, which puts off most people. This is good, honest-to-goodness Chinese food, served up in a warm family environment, where you can fill up without breaking the bank. What’s not to love?!

 

Maney's Dumpling on Urbanspoon