For ages now, Michaela has been imploring me to visit Carnegie for this blog. It was grievous to her that her home suburb’s culinary delights should have thus far escaped my notice. Indeed, once I thought about it I was surprised at myself for not having gone eating there before, especially given it’s reputation as a hub for Korean restaurants.
But for my very first visit, Michaela decided that I should be treated to the most widely lauded of Carnegie’s food stops, the venerable Auntie’s Dumplings, which often features near the top of ‘Melbourne’s best dumpings’ lists. Not to be left out of a dumpling adventure, Bennett came along too, forming that oft overlooked superhero team of the Dumpling Trio. Our special powers are unlimited stomach capacity, and being able to breathe soy sauce like it’s oxygen.
Auntie’s is like many a cheap and cheerful dumpling restaurant, in that ambiance is basically non-existent. If you don’t like hustle and bustle, coming during peak meal hours is also best avoided – around 2-3pm when we visited is a good option, as the lunch rush is done with and you get to enjoy your dumplings in a calmer environment.
Our first dish was a trio of fried pumpkin cakes, as insisted upon by Michaela. These were little crisp discs of pumpkin with a very agreeable sweetness to them, a perfect starter.
While we were on fried appetisers, I insisted on a serving of one of my favourite dishes, spring onion pancake. Auntie’s version had a crisp, bubbled exterior, and were very thin, so there was not much fluffiness inside, but it was still a very good example of the dish.
We leavened all this fried goodness with the simple, healthy greenery of a plate of steamed Chinese broccoli, with oyster sauce very kindly served on the side so that Michaela and Bennett could go mad with it while I slopped my own soy/chilli sauce creation over my portion. The broccoli had been perfectly steamed, with leaves wilted but not soggy, and the stalks still retaining a firm bite to them.
Of course, what we were really here for were the dumplings. While Bennett contented himself with some pork versions, Michaela and I got stuck into some fried vegetarian dumplings. They had thick, crispy skins, with a very spinach heavy filling; you were hit with an immediate metallic smell once you cracked them open. Closer inspection of the filling turned up evidence of very finely chopped vegies in among the green, as well as tiny strands of clear noodles, but spinach was the predominant flavour. While if I’m being truly critical, I would in general prefer greater variety and nuance in terms of overall flavour, as a complete package the Auntie dumpling is very seductive.
Auntie’s delivered a pretty top notch dumpling experience. The dumplings themselves are well made, and the other non-dumpling dishes we sampled were highly accomplished in terms of simple done very well. I was also particularly happy that I was able to get an item like oyster sauce served separately in order to make the steamed Chinese broccoli truly vegetarian – by the waitress’ quick, understanding acquiescence to the request, it seems like Auntie’s is used to adjusting ingredients to suit dietary requirements. Best of all, it’s cheap, cheap, cheap! Carnegie may have plenty more culinary treats for me to discover, but it’s going to be hard not to feel the constant pull for another batch of Auntie’s dumplings.
68 Koornang Road, Carnegie
Ph: 9568 6641