Note: Dani has been to Shanghai Village Dumpling many, many times. This was, however, Dan's first dumpling experience - ever! Not just at SVD but at all.
After visiting the bottle shop - an absolute must before heading to SVD - we managed to grab a table upstairs (also referred to as Siberia).
As you enter Shanghai Village Dumpling the fuchsia walls and split dining area can be a little confronting. The seating area upstairs is quite a stark contrast as most of the walls are pale and there are no decorations, very little ambience at all really. But both areas accommodate a huge number of patrons and thus the entire restaurant can be loud and bustling. On this particular night, the upstairs area seemed a little less chaotic.
Most of the group were seasoned SVD diners and as such, wine glasses, chopsticks and bowls were quickly acquired for the table. SVD is not known for its quality service, so a proactive approach means that you won't leave disappointed.
Throughout the evening we ordered Steamed chicken dumplings, Fried pork dumplings, Asian greens with oyster sauce, Vegetarian dumplings, Shanghai noodles and Fried rice.
The first dishes arrived fairly promptly and no one went hungry. With such a large and hungry group, it was hard to get decent photos before the food was devoured.
The dumplings aren't particular creative flavour-wise, but they're tasty. The meat filling is tender and the dough is not chewy or floury. The fried pork dumplings are slightly crispy on one side, adding a further dimension to the textures.
Our rice was fluffy and mixed with egg and meat. There are, however, more suitable options for vegetarians. (Thankfully our friend seemed happy to pick the meat out.)
Beef in the Shanghai noodles seemed to make this dish instantly popular with the gents. Copious amounts of sauce added flavour but also detracted from the natural flavour of the other ingredients.
Having eaten more than any person needs in one meal, we left, paying an entire $13 each.
The lure of Shanghai Village Dumpling is that it offers the basics (a table, a seat and food) and you get to determine the rest. Think choose your own adventure. You will find suits and students, couples and bachelor parties, friends who are long overdue for a catch up. Even bumping into a familiar face is not unexpected given SVD's popularity. Oh and providing decent food at a fantastic price doesn't hurt either.
So which side of the great divide do we sit on?
We love it. (Please note this does not mean that we love Collingwood.)
The no frills dumpling experience is perfect when you have great company. The meals are cheap, easy to share and there is enough variety to keep most people content.
Name: Shanghai Village Dumpling
Location: 112 Little Bourke St, Melbourne