If you’ve travelled to the Guangzhou Province you’re probably not going to like this well-decorated space with puffer fish stuffed birdcages and Chairman Mao propaganda art.
For the rest of us, particularly those with Western palates, it neatly takes the parking dramas, gristle, burning soup-related injuries and the tricky soy/vinegar-balancing act out of eating dumplings.
From really tasty Prawn Gow Gee ($9.50) to...
...Shanghai Soup Dumplings/Xiao-long-bao ($9.50), everything I tried was moist and nicely accentuated by house-made chilli oil or fruity chilli sauce.
Whilst dumpling skins on the Chilli Chicken Dumplings ($9.50) might not be of the wafer-thin standard turned out at Din Tai Fung, to enjoy plentiful free parking, a comfortably quirky space with good music and decent, well-priced booze - the Little Black Stone Pinot Gris ($7.50/glass, $32/bottle) is quite lovely – certainly counts for something.
Crab and Spinach Dumpling ($11) are a greenish, palate-refreshing break.
Peking Duck Pancakes ($12) include moist (bought in) duck inside pliable, tasty pancakes with quality Hoisin.
Coconut Chicken and Peanut ($9) or Seafood and Kaffir Lime Sugarcane Skewers ($9) are both clever takes on Vietnamese Chạo tôm (prawn paste on sugar cane).
If you still have hungry corners, throw in an order of Salt and Pepper Squid ($15) made on coarser flour with a nice helping of Szechuan pepper, but make sure you leave space for the cleverly Westernised desserts.
From intriguing milky-skinned Ice Cream Dumplings ($8.50) to crisp Chocolate and Caramel Spring Rolls ($8.50) or decadent hazelnut ganache filled Chocolate Dumplings ($8.50) dripping with orange and star anise sauce; there’s not an azuki bean to be found!
Bamboo Dumpling Bar (Balmain)
31 Cameron Street, Balmain
Ph: (02) 9555 8570