Following a series of wild nights on the town, my friend Sapphire Tenzing and I made a pact to make sure we eat something before we start drinking. Our first attempt at this new regime was on Thursday night and was a great success. Part of the reason for our triumph of good over naughty, was that we picked the right place to begin our adventure: Bamboo Dumpling Bar on Llankelly Place in Kings Cross.
Bamboo Dumpling Bar opened about six months ago, taking over the space of a gourmet fish and chip shop in the buzzing newly made-over Llankelly Place laneway. It's a tiny space with three big tables outside and an indoor dining room decked out in glamorous 1930s Shanghai style.
There are also Bamboo Dumpling Bars in neighbouring Surry Hills (on Commonwealth Street), Newtown in the inner-west, as well as one in the Birchgrove-Balmain area.
We grabbed a table outside, quickly ordered some food, and before we had even had a few sips of our drinks, the first plate arrived:
We each ordered a $20 tasting plate, which included duck pancakes, spring rolls, pork buns and five different dumplings. Saph ordered a glass of the Ant Moore Pinot Noir Rose ($7.50), while I had a Singha beer ($6.50). For $20, it was quite enough food, and for an extra $5 you can also have a dessert, such as Ice Cream Dumplings or Chocolate and Caramel Spring Rolls.
There's also a $27.50 tasting plate menu that comes with all of the food from the $20 menu as well as small servings of BBQ Pork, Salt and Pepper Squid and Asian Greens.
I haven't been able to eat squid since a trip to Tasmania in 2008/09. I was in the Freycinet National Park and there was a little boy who had fished out a squid from the bay.
Instead of killing it immediately, the boy just left it lying on the wharf, slowly dying. But the squid didn't die quietly and instead made this horrifying gasping noise as it inflated and deflated itself. I was so shocked and disgusted, I couldn't move. And no one else did anything either.
Looking back, I don't know why I didn't scream at the kid or say something. Instead I just stood there watching quietly, with tears running down my face. I have never eaten squid since.
So I'm glad Saph didn't even mention the $27.50 tasting plate, as I wouldn't have even wanted to see the squid. Poor old squid. Yet, strangely (and I suppose because I have never seen a pig killed), I don't have such qualms about tucking into BBQ Pork Buns. Poor old piggy:
And I have no problems either with the Pork and Chive Dumpling, Pork and Prawn Dumpling, Prawn Gow Gee, Shanghai Soup Dumpling and Vegetarian Gow Gee (all included in the $20 menu).
But while I can eat the prawn secreted away inside the dumpling wrapper, I generally haven't eaten the little things ever since I went to the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium in California last year and saw a whole school of living prawns bobbing around inside a massive tank. They looked so happy and they certainly didn't look like something you would want to eat.
But the Bamboo Dumplings were excellent:
The regular Bamboo menu features dumplings - natch - at $9.50 for five, as well as specials such as Peking Duck with Plum Sauce ($14.50), Chicken Sticky Rice ($8.50) and Salt and Pepper Tofu with Lemon ($14.50).
Filled up with dumplings, Saph and I had a good start to the evening, but then realised we could save some money if we hit the Fountain Cafe's happy hour. So we quickly paid up our bill and rushed over to the Fountain, only to discover that we had missed happy hour by two minutes. The Fountain's Carlton Draught beer was $1 more than the Singha and the Rose was about the same price, so I suspect next time we'll just stay at Bamboo.
Bamboo Dumpling Bar
Llankelly Place, Shop 6, 23-31 Darlinghurst Road
Kings Cross NSW 2010
0404 745 393