[Pictures: David Straight]
There isn’t much to look at here. There are plastic-covered tables, cheap crockery and some very badly photoshopped images of dumplings. The lighting is too bright and the place is family run; service is well-meaning but very patchy and once there was a voluble argument in the kitchen. We can’t work out why it has a Spanish-ish name.
This only adds to the wonder. Such is our obsession with Barilla that we have been known to divert here on the way from the airport for a quick dumpling or 20. We fell in love with New Flavour some years back; our affections have been sorely tested by the newcomer. Because the dumplings here are something else entirely.
They are handmade fresh every day by old ladies behind the counter and they come boiled, fried or – holy of holies – steamed, arriving at the table in a giant bamboo steamer. They cost between $9 and $11 for 20. They are plump, with sensible frills on the top where they’ve been pushed closed, and inside there are genius combinations, along with a little bit of stock – you have to bite in, suck out the stock and then eat the rest in two short bites.
After many visits, we can report that the pork with fennel is a thing of wonder, fragrant with fennel fronds. The lamb with scallion is surprising, if fatty. The beef and celery is truly excellent. Sides are good, but not great – a passable cucumber in sauce ($8), very good greens in garlic ($10). We don’t care, not when we know the pork and fennel is coming. SFG
HOURS Seven days, 11.30am to midnight.
ADDRESS 571 Dominion Road, Balmoral, ph 638-8032.
IMPORTANT DETAILS Parking is awful.