Dumpling King

After almost 30 years, Dumpling King Box Hill is still turning out colourful plates of popular Chinese favourites. For plump Dumplings, silky Black Pepper Beef and some of the best Tofu around, give it a go.

Dumpling King

Location: 572 Station St, Box Hill, VIC 3128 Ph: (03) 9890 3719

As the rain lashes the neon-lit streets of Box Hill, if there’s a better place to be sitting in the dry than inside Dumpling King, we don’t know it.

We know it’s not the flashiest Chinese Restaurant in Melbourne. In fact, it’s not even the classiest Chinese establishment in Box Hill. However, this place is an institution for many reasons. Not least its large, but navigable, menu of authentic Chinese favourites.

After all, dozens of businesses have come and gone along this strip of shops and eateries, but Dumpling King Box Hill has stayed. All while a sister joint in Hawthorn has risen and fallen.

Exactly how old the Station Street outlet is, we don’t know, but suffice to say it’s been here since the mid-1990s. Not a bad innings.

The Space

From the pavement, Dumpling King has little to make it stand-out from the other Asian dining spots in the areas. The top half of the window is given over to fluorescent writing telling you the name of the place in both Chinese characters and English alphabet: the lower half displays photos of various menu items.

Push open the glass door and you’re in a place of 2 halves. The entrance side of the restaurant is much like so many other cheap and cheerful eateries in the area. Wooden tables wait, set with white tablecloths, small bowls painted with Oriental designs, chopsticks and paper napkins. There’s Chinese art and numerous framed food excellence awards lining the walls and a luminous drinks cabinet and service counter to the back of the room.

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There’s also an archway. Go through, and you’re in another dining room. Similarly decorated to the first, the only major difference is a bar along the rear wall.

It’s in here that we are shown to a circular table, complete with lazy susan.

The atmosphere is welcoming with a background hum of quiet efficiency.

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The Food

Whether or not Dumpling King holds an allegiance to the cuisine of a particular region of China is unclear. Instead, the menu reads like a greatest hits of dishes that acknowledge the less adventurous palates of many non-Asian Australians. That said, (almost) everything that we eat tastes great and packs plenty of flavour.

As you might expect, there is a decent selection of Dumplings. We consider trying the Pork Dumplings in Soup, but end up with the Pan-Fried Chicken Dumplings. They arrive, crisped skinned and fat with juicy filling. It’s a good start.

For more of the Best Dumplings in Melbourne, see here.

Dumpling King - Pan fried Dumplings

The dishes start arriving in force and we begin eating in earnest.

The Black Pepper Beef comes on an iron skillet and is sticky and glossy, with the meat perfectly velveted. The accompanying Green Capsicum and Celery are crunchy and a nice contrast to the soft Beef.

Dumpling King - Black Pepper Beef

Three in our party have a passion for the fire of Sichuan cooking, so we order the Sichuan Eggplant. Initially, we are slightly disappointed that the plate doesn’t come littered with the bodies of dried chillies, as we’d hoped. However, it is certainly delicious – the Eggplant soft and yielding and the sauce rich and addictive.

To my mind, Tofu can be a real hit or miss ingredient. Happily, at Dumpling King, they hit it out of the park with their take on Salt & Pepper Tofu.

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Light, springy cubes of Tofu, dusted with the ideal amount of seasoning and showered with crispy Shallots. It really is a delight to eat and I defy even the most ardent Tofu-skeptic not to enjoy it.

Another real winner is the Fish Fillets in Ginger. Again, the fish is meltingly tender and the ginger provides just the right amount of heat.

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Less exciting is the Sang Choi Bao. We could have had Pork, Duck or Chicken and go for the latter. Maybe that is where we went wrong? All I know is that it’s an extremely bland version of what is usually a reliably perky choice. Sadly, even a good does of Black Vinegar & Soy Sauce does little to enliven it.

Finally, after demurring over Noodles, we decide on the Vegetable Fried Rice.

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Although the portion-size is plentiful and the rice has good bite, it could, once more, do with a tad more seasoning to give it a bit more pep.

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The Drinks

Dumpling King Box Hill is both BYO and Licensed.

For me, Chinese food tastes best washed down with a beer. Happily, the bar stocks Tsing Tao, so I’m a happy camper.

Others amongst us share a bottle of Pinot Grigio and are also content with their decision.

As I said earlier, there are plenty of soft drinks as well as a full bar, if you desire something different.

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Over All

Having well and truly eaten our fill our bill comes to a very reasonable $40 per head – including drinks.

Honestly, for the quality of the meal as a whole, the attentiveness of our young wait staff and the chilled vibe of the place, if was well worth it.

I suspect we’ll be back again soon.

Faye Keenan
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