Shop 7, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne
03 9650 3818
Inside MidCity Arcade is a small, unassuming restaurant with a big personality – Shandong MaMa. A dumpling house with a passion for creating artisan dumplings, it takes inspiration from both traditional and modern influences to create some of the best dumplings in town.
The eatery is owned and operated by dumpling devotees Meiyan Wang – or Mama, as she is affectionately known – and her daughter, Ying Hao. While their space may be small their reputation is large, with dumpling fans from near and far often lining up out the door, waiting to taste the juicy morsels.
You can expect the best at Shandong MaMa. Each dumpling is made with expert attention to detail, right down to choosing different grades of casing thickness depending on the filling. For example, fish dumplings taste best in a thin, translucent skin while meat dumplings require a thicker skin to withstand longer cooking.
Meiyan and Ying use only the best quality ingredients, which are often handpicked and prepared by Mama herself. While there’s a huge range on offer, Shandong MaMa has become best known for its mackerel dumplings, inspired by the eastern Chinese coast where Mama hails from. A whipped filling of fresh mackerel fillet, coriander, ginger and chives is encased in a thin dumpling case to create a delicate and flavoursome bite.
Those who like to play it safe can rest assured – traditional favourites are also included on the menu. Timeless combinations such as pork and cabbage, and prawn and chives, are available either fried or boiled.
While the Chinese province of Shandong provides the biggest influence over the cuisine, Mama is also a keen experimenter and is frequently inspired by Melbourne’s diverse food culture and ingredients. This has seen the creation of many left-of-centre flavour combinations, like a squid ink dumpling skin, filled with chicken, basil and coriander.
On top of its dumpling selection, Shandong MaMa also offers a range of noodle and rice dishes, alternative mains and soups. This includes a variety of meat, vegetable, noodle and seafood stir-fries, as well as Chinese favourites like fried rice and sweet and sour pork. Prawn and chicken wonton soups also prove popular on the comprehensive menu.
While the restaurant is not licensed, a selection of soft drinks, juice and hot and cold teas are available to quench your thirst. The simple fit out contributes to the experience of Shandong MaMa and allows the venue’s true attraction to shine – the food.
At Shandong MaMa, dumpling making is an art form. Meiyan and Ying carefully hand-craft each individual dumpling with love and care, ensuring they will remain some of Melbourne’s best dumpling makers for the future.