Eat here: Northern Soul, Melbourne

Northern Soul
843 High St, Thornbury
http://www.northernsoul.com.au/

Happy hump day, kids! I hope everyone has a better day lined up than I do; I’ll be off having a few wisdom teeth ripped out in a few hours  >.<  I’d obviously rather be brunching, so let’s talk about that, instead.

I’ve had a bit of a crappy few weeks, so I was pretty excited to have not one but two lady breakfast dates over the weekend, with my two best friends 🙂 yay! Saturday morning’s breaky was at Northern Soul, and the second I set foot in the place, I was ready to use said foot to kick myself for having lived in the area for two and a half years and not having visited before.

I was in there all of 60 seconds before being hit by a combo of beautiful space, sexy dessert display, killer menu, super lovely staff and a general all round happy vibe. That’s what you want on a Saturday morning after a trying fortnight. In their own words, Northern Soul is a place where you can sit down, relax and enjoy some of the most delicious food in Thornbury.” They use fresh, organic, local, seasonal produce, happily catering for gluten free, vegan and vegetarians alike. They’re incredibly community and family focused, too, which is so great to have in an area that is so heavily built on older families and traditions.

When I head out to eat, I can usually pick a stand out dish pretty quickly to go with. This was one of those very rare times that I actually could not make up my mind. I’d narrowed it down to about 4 options, before remembering that they’re actually a Tibetan influenced operation, and they’re quite well known for their momos (dumplings). Breakfast momos it was!

Three big, fat, spinach and cheese filled momos, topped with smoked salmon and 2 poached eggs, with the most phenomenal dill and (I think) mustard seed yoghurt. While dumplings and smoked salmon initially seemed a bit of an odd combo, this was hands down the most creative breaky dish I’ve seen on a menu in a very long time, and it didn’t disappoint – completely perfect!

My beautiful friend went with one of the other dishes I was contemplating – the French toast, with Barbados cream, maple syrup and berry compote. Amazing…

I’m really reluctant to share this unassuming little spot in it’s quiet part of High Street, because I want to be able to keep visiting without a massive crowd, but when the food is THIS good and the service is lovely, and they’re supporting the community, you can’t not share it. The whole reason I blog is to share the things I love, and I really did fall in love with the place mighty quickly. If you’re a northerner, make it a priority. If you’re not, plan a visit out this way.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get my teeth pulled out and enjoy a diet of soup and jelly for a few days. The thought of heading back to Northern Soul when I’m all healed up is pulling me through!

 

Northern Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Yummy Yummy Dim Sum, San Francisco

Yummy Yummy
758 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, USA

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4809.jpg
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…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4807.jpg
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

IMG_6040

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.

IMG_6023

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.

IMG_6022

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!

IMG_6025

IMG_6029

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.

IMG_6032

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