I am glad that I turned down Big John’s offer to comp me a bag of their fab frozen dumplings after my stellar review, because it leaves me free to write a less gushing review about one of their other products. As someone immersed in the Sydney foodie social media scene, it always makes me feel uncomfortable how many of these influencers are taking money or freebies from industry. I understand that for some this is a job rather than a mere stupid hobby, but I find it very difficult to trust recommendations from anyone who might have a conflict of interest. Even when a review is not directly paid for or comped, there’s a general understanding that if you’re someone who’s a negative Nancy you’re less likely to be invited to collaborate with other brands.
So I’m glad to say that I have no conflicts of interest to declare when it comes to reviewing Big John’s Jumbo Pork Meatballs, Classic Shanghai Style. I had been craving a lion’s head meatball ever since I was reminded of their existence in some kind of Youtube video. My last such meatball was from Taste of Nanking in Waterloo, two years ago, and it was time to have it again.
These meatballs were cooked as per the instructions, in a light broth of ginger and light soy sauce, though I forgot the ginger. I also later cooked them steamed and then another time boiled with just plain water.
No matter how I cooked them, I felt like they were too wet and too loose in their structure. Perhaps it’s because my view of what these balls should be like are coloured by my last experience. Perhaps they’re not even meant to be the same kind, as these are Shanghainese and those were from a Nanjing-themed restaurant. Who knows, not me, for I do not read Chinese. I invite commenters to tell me that I’m comparing them to the wrong benchmark if that is the case.
I also felt, probably related to their structure and texture, that there was too much ginger in the meatball itself, let alone for it to be boiled with ginger as per the instructions. Perhaps if the ginger was minced more finely the ball would stay together better.
Ultimately though, while some may like these, they were not what I was after.