So there is a difference between pan-fried dumplings and Guotie (锅贴). Guotie literally means pot-stickers in Chinese, however to me they should look very different to what most people think when they think of pot-stickers. Melbourne hosts a large array of Southern style dumpling houses, for a Northerner like me this is just a tiny bit frustrating, because whenever I see the words guotie on a menu, I get really excited and order it. However, every single time, without fail I get pan-fried dumplings served to me. They are not the same! Sorry, as you can see these little pan fried things are very important to me. So when I heard Shandong Mama was serving up some traditional Northern Chinese fare, naturally I wanted to try.
First up, beef fried guotie (even the restaurant calls them fried dumplings). Ladies and gentleman, behold, this is what guotie looks like. I did a little happy dance inside when I saw these. These are it, they are what I’ve been craving all these years in Australia. Despite my excitement and high expectations, these little morsels did not disappoint. The skin was thin, chewy and wonderfully crispy on the bottom. The skin have soaked up a little bit of the beef juice from the salty filling. Just the skins alone were so addictive. There is no fancy tricks here. The filling is just salty and bold, showing off the neat beef and onion combo. This is the food I grew up with and this is the type of food I miss. The simple stuff.
Shandong Mama did quite a bit of clever digital advertising, one of them is a youtube video showing you how these dish dumplings are made. So I suspect the initial hype about Shandong Mama are from people wanting to try these. Not wanting to miss out, we ordered a serve as well.
I must say I was underwhelmed. The whole dumpling felt strangely like a big cloud of fluffy marshmallow. Though it is not a texture I am used to nor a texture I expected, but after a few I decided I did like the mousse-like texture of the Mackerel filling. What I realised I didn’t like was the flavour. Now Mackerel isn’t exactly a subtle flavoured fish, so I was expecting a lot more taste from the filling, but I could barely taste any fish. The green bits of chives in the filling also failed to add any excitement to the dull and bland dumpling. Although, I love the concept, I decided I really did not enjoy this dish.
I hear from dad that Shandong Mama isn’t doing as well as the owners had hoped. So they recently bought in one of the chefs that my dad used to work with, hoping to improve their business. I have great faith in their new appointment, because I’ve tasted his food on many occasions before and all I can say is – it’s good! I really do hope that Shandong Mama can reach the owner’s expectations, because I really really want them to stay. Why you ask? Haha, because I want my GUOTIE!