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Food, Inside Story

Visiting Shandong MaMa with Jeffrey Merrihue of

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ShanDong MaMa in Melbourne serves up some of the best dumplings in the world and is one of the best restaurants in Chinatown. The World Loves Melbourne was privileged to visit ShanDong MaMa with Jeffrey Merrihue the CEO of global food sensation If anyone knows dumplings it's Jeffrey; having dined at the best dumpling houses in China and beyond. Check out our Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne.

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How was ShanDong MaMa going to stack up in terms of world class dumpling offerings? The Pork and chives dumplings were a resounding success; with the Melbourne dumplings and the Black fungus dumplings also world class. When it comes to prawns in dumplings Mama only uses the best. Mama uses the highest quality prawns in these dumplings, not shrimps. Being from the coastal city of Yan Thai in Shandong Province Mama has an affinity with the sea and loves to cook seafood.

But it's the Fish Mackerel Boiled Dumplings that steal the show! These are not only world class but among the world's best. So says Jeffrey. He was able to cut through the dumpling with his chopsticks with ease; showcasing the lux mousse like texture.

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A bite into these dumplings is a flavour explosion. The Fish Dumplings consisted of fresh mackerel fillet mixed by hand with coriander ginger and chives, into a mousse-textured filling, wrapped in home-made thin dumpling skin. The dumpling holds together well, and is tasty without being overpowering. This is a delicate dumpling. Fish Mackerel dumplings (above) are possibly the best dumplings in the world - and we're serious! A creamy mousse like texture from the lux Mackerel (expensive ingredient) dumplings.

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Jeffrey said of the Fish Mackerel dumplings, "This boiled mackerel dumpling is so tender that you can cut it with chopsticks. This wonder from Shandong is the masterful creation from ShanDong MaMa in Melbourne." Recently Melbourne restaurant icon Andrew McConnell heaped high praise on the dumplings at ShanDong MaMa in The Weekly Review: When Andrew finds the time to pop out for dumplings, ShanDong MaMa is always high on the agenda. "This is great, street-style restaurant that does everything from scratch," he says."The skins they make for their boiled dumplings are a little bit thicker than usual and are wheat-based. To me they are just incredibly authentic. They are filled with fish paste and fresh mackerel, coriander, ginger spring onion and chives."

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We tried the pan fried version of the Fish Mackerel dumplings, but felt the boiled version is superior with it's silky delicate texture.

Shandong Mama is an exciting addition to the Melbourne culinary scene in Mid City Arcade and can lay claim to the best dumplings in Melbourne. Mama is a retired ex accountant from China who spent years cooking for friends in her social circle in Shandong Province. She's had the courage to start this homely restaurant with her delightful family here in Melbourne. Friends and relatives are part of the scene. Mama has a passion for healthy, delicate cuisine. It's exciting to see a Shandong Restaurant (one of the 8 major Chinese cuisines) in Melbourne.

Mama is particular about process and having the best ingredients. You may find her at Footscray or Springvale markets sourcing the finest ingredients for her dumplings. The fish dumplings include expensive mackerel in the filling, for example, hand picked by Mama.

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Mama is not keen to use electric kitchen tools to stir the dumpling mixture, but she throws her shoulder into every batch. These dumplings have the perfect (thin) casing, exciting fillings and broth. There is more imagination here than most other dumpling houses in this city. For example the Prawn, Black Fungus and Chives Dumplings are delectably filled with large chunks of prawns with chopped chives and black fungus, a small amount of mince for texture and flavour, wrapped in thin dumpling skin in-house.

The story of Mama Wang coming from the ShanDong Province of China to bring her expertise to Melbourne is compelling. With family alongside her, Mama is unstoppable.  When you think you know the dumpling scene well, you get a revelation at ShanDong Mama at how good it can be. This restaurant serves up dumplings not found anywhere else in Melbourne; and rare in the world!

Not to mention Treasure tea with its mysterious ingredients...

ShanDong Mama has been celebrated in this city; but recognition should be given to its world class offerings. Not just the dumplings, but the rest of the menu is top notch.

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Working our way through the dumpling offerings we also enjoyed vegetarian fare of Spinach and the Zucchini dumplings.

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Filmmaker Colin is part of the crew and has put together high quality clips of Mama making dumplings... 

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The affordabilty of the dumplings at ShanDong MaMa is amazing; world class dumplings at cheap prices.

We highly recommend Shandong Mama as the highest quality dumplings and a homely ambience with passionate team...