Saturday 8th August

While I almost always choose where we have dinner I'm open to suggestions. Lola flipped through her copy of 'Time Out Magazine' having suggested we buy tickets for the Food Awards Night, and suggested ShanDong Mama, which was nominated for an award. The 'Best Bang for Buck' Award, Time Out Magazine's award for the best, tastiest cheap eats in town.

This is Lola, from Devour. She is not shy and most definitely not scared of the camera. 

Mama has been on my list since it first opened, though I never got around to it, especially as they often sold out of their fish dumplings back then before closing. So we called them to check stock and to see if they take cards. Yes the dish I'm after is in stock, and no it's cash only.

A very popular cheap eat that has made into many food guides and highly reccomended.

Their Philosophy - Did you know that mama isn't a chef? Something rare in Melbourne.

Not sure what time we got there, it was after 7pm, but we left at 8.15pm and there was a long line. When we got there there were a couple tables left. The next week when I walked by winding down by 9pm on a Saturday. 

Located on Bourke St they are hard to find, if you don't know where to look. They're in Mid City Arcade, the same arcade Sushi (Train) Horoto is in, but Mama is downstairs or ground level. 

Fish Sauce - Chili Oil - Soy Sauce

I had my heart set on the pan-fried dumplings, as I'm not a fan of boiled ones, they tend to be a bit on the bland side. Also these dumplings are what mama is known for. I was hoping to order tek teha k special or something similar but this places was Chinese and not Malaysian.

Mackereal Fish Fried Dumplings (10 Pieces) $16 & Melbourne Fried Dumplings (10) $14

Fresh mackerel fillet mixed by hand with coriander, ginger and chives into a mousse-textured filling
MaMa's new contempoary recipie inspired by the Australian multiculture food scene. Diced seafood (prawns, calamari, museel, fish) and chicken mince, lemon rind, olive oil, parsley and garlic.

Unlike any other dumplings I've ever had these were rectangular prisms or cannoli shaped, shaped just so to allow the excess juice from the filling to mix with the frying oil and add flavour to the crispy skin, the menu tells us.

They were very yummy and shared between the two of us quite filling though I'm sure we could have shared another dish :P It was the fish ones that I really like and would return for. The Melbourne was good too, but the filling to me felt like it was fusion food, which I'm not a fan of. But I would like that same mince mix in an XLB or wrapped in betel leaves.

The menu was bought out with speed but we were not offered water unlike the couple beside us, that arrived after us. They also got their food first Lola commented, but I think noodles were fast to make than dumplings which were in demand (Mr Nice Guy aka Jas agrees). As to why they got served first and recieved better service, it's because they're asian and speak the same language as the waiters (Lola & I agreed). 

A good first experience at ShanDong Mama, though service could improve (as it varies). We'll be back for fish dumplings and the lamb too, jas will want that one. I am curious to what shepherd's purse herbs is? Ggoogle says it has a peppery flavour, rather like watercress. I'll pass.

Have you had Mama's fish dumplings?
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