Sunday, October 30, 2011

Down in the Dumplings

I used to avoid Chinese food because the meat was so questionable. But I’ve since realised that boycotting Chinese food until they start using ethical meat is a bit like boycotting pornographic movies until they start writing stronger female characters. It’s not going to happen in our lifetime, so you might as well just suspend your conscience for half an hour and get stuck in like everybody else does.

 I’m not the first person to discover Barilla Dumplings at 571 Dominion Road, but I’m possibly the first person to tell you about it. Go immediately if you can, it’s apparently open from 11.30am until midnight every day, and the dumplings are very good: handmade, steamed or fried, with dozens of choices of fillings and preposterously cheap: $10 for twenty of them, that sort of thing. You can order a couple of flavours and you’ll have heaps left at the end to take home. What sort of monster can eat 40 dumplings? 

You also get free tea, and condiments - soy sauce, mild chilli and vinegar - to season them as you wish. It ends up being very tasty and, unlike most Chinese takeaways, the sort of thing you really couldn't do at home yourself.

Bloody hell though, don’t get too hungry in advance. We had to wait about 20 minutes after ordering for our pork buns to arrive, and then it was probably another 10 minutes before we saw the dumplings. Fine if you’re there for a fourth date – the date where you demonstrate that although you’re not afraid to throw money around like you did on dates one, two and three, you’re also all about quirky, cheap eats because you’re totally comfortable sitting cheek-to-cheek with people from other cultures, although, truth be told, actually the bottle of wine you have at home for her is expensive, hopefully expensive enough to convince her to stay over; you would have bought champagne but then, what if things get all romantic and steamy and you’re only half way through the bottle? That’s a waste of good bubbles; you could put a little teaspoon in the top but does that actually work? No, I don’t know either, never mind, if it goes flat you can use the leftover wine to poach some strawberries; oh, she didn’t know you could cook as well? Yep, that’s you, Mr fancy-pants-dinner one day, budget grub the next, gourmet home chef on the weekend. Phew, it’s lucky those dumplings are taking so long, it’s really giving her a chance to get to know all your amazing qualities – but not so good if you're a hangry couple with a baby.