While I guess some of the grocery posts on this blog have worldwide appeal, much of what I eat from the local Asian grocery store is made here in Sydney, and only available at a few places. This makes me writing this essentially useless, as the likelihood of even a single person reading this and then deciding to buy or not buy these wontons is exceedingly low.
Despite this, I thought the Prestons Foods Pork & Garlic Chive Wontons to be quite solid. The filling was generous and had a good meaty texture and good chivey flavour. I’d eat them again.
As someone with limited calories in a day I suffer immensely from food-related indecision. One of my partner’s worst daily bugbears is my inability to decide where we’re going to eat, as I have both extremely high standards and a lack of willingness to cede control. Though Tianjin Shi Tang has been on my radar for a couple of years as a Tianjin-food devotee, multiple trips to the restaurant have been abandoned close to the mark after seeing negative reviews about them on Google. There have been several times where we have parked down the road, and I have made a last minute decision to go somewhere else.
Tian Jin Shi Tang is testament to the fact that Google reviewers don’t always know good food, and that sometimes risking it all on a 3.1 star restaurant with more 1-star reviews than 5-star reviews is worth it. Common complaints about food safety and worker ethic were not issues that we experienced, and in fact we had a very positive overall experience.
The thing I was most keen for was this jianbing guozi (chinese egg pancake) with smoked pork ($12.80). I think that jianbing is one of the key regional dishes of Tianjin that you have to try at any restaurant that offers it, and while I don’t remember the specific taste of any specific jianbing guozi that I had in China, what I can say is that every single one I’ve had in Sydney has been quite enjoyable, this one included. The base jianbing guozi at Tian Jin Shi Tang is $8.80, and though I’d never had it with a meaty filling before, the smoked meat filling (a $4 supplement) as recommended by one guy on Google who will be remembered as being on the right side of history was tasty, umami, and well worth it to put a spin on this classic dish. The lady serving us asked if I wanted chilli on it, and I must have said yes with just little enough conviction that she gave us only a little bit (stated as “less spicy” on our tax invoice). Overall this was not the traditional 煎饼馃子 that I’m used to, with the addition of smoked pork and with chilli sauce rather than sweet bean sauce (甜面酱), but still a delicious play on the concept.
The Tian Jin Wonton Soup ($8.80), pictured above in two almost identical photos chosen to put on show both wonton and soup facets of the dish, was a cheap and hearty breakfast bowl. Presented as a claypot filled with peppery soup, a crackled and slightly scrambled egg, seaweed, coriander, and small-type wontons, this is a dish that could easily form the staple of some late teen to early twenties Burwood high-rise dwelling international student. The meat filling, though relatively small compared to that of a dumpling, made up for its small size with its high density of meat and flavour, and numbered sufficiently to avoid sadness at the end of the meal (Danny Katz of the Sydney Morning Herald makes reference to the appropriate number of wontons in a bowl of wonton soup in the linked article, though this is not the Confucian wonton parable that I remember from my childhood). My only comment would be that this soup was far more peppery than I had anticipated – not overpoweringly so, it’s just that I didn’t expect white pepper to be the main flavour of the soup.
The pork and chive potstickers (12 for $14.80) were again very good. The dumplings and buns at Tian Jin Shi Tang are made fresh to order, and so we had no problems with the short 20 minute wait which we were pre-warned of whilst ordering, during which time we were eating the rest of our meal anyway. Though other online reviewers have complained about twenty minute waits for their food, we understand that fresh handmade food is something that takes time to get right, and I was actually quite impressed by the precision of the dumpling making process, watching the chef weigh out the filling for each individual dumpling, adding and subtracting as necessary as she made them in order to achieve the target ratios and weights. Though I would’ve preferred boiled dumplings (also available on the menu – a sign of self-confidence in a dumpling restaurant’s art) and any sort of order of pan-fried dumplings is usually the doing of my partner, I really did enjoy the freshly fried crispiness of the wrapper, as well as the juiciness of the filling within. These pork and chive dumplings had a bit more of a soy flavour and a stronger taste than I’m used to, but good all the same.
COMMENTS Online reviews of Tian Jin Shi Tang are pretty well divided into lovers and haters of the place. Our experience was overwhelmingly positive, and I suspect that some of the difference in experience might be due to the fact that we went in the morning at 9:30AM but they’re open up until 1-2AM, which is a long time to keep up quality. We would not hesitate to go back.
Big respect also to a venue that gives a tax invoice for a cash purchase without being asked. It’s sad that operating a company that doesn’t steal from the rest of society is something to be praised, but where so many in the hospitality industry don’t do the right thing, it’s important to pay homage to the ones who do.
Basic vibe review only, my friend and colleague SCKW paid and didn’t let me see the receipt so I don’t really know what anything is or how much it cost. I transferred him a completely random amount of money.
These beef in black pepper sauce was pretty good. Probably the thing that I ate the most of during the meal. Good flavour, tender beef. Would’ve been good with rice, not that I had any.
The steamed and fried mantou with condensed milk, not really my go to dish, but I did have a couple. I don’t really know what to say. They’re quite standard, there’s not a lot of room for success or failure.
This is some kind of fish fillets in tomato soup, with bok choy and I think possibly basa? The fish fillets had a soft consistency and intrinsic flavour which is why I think basa. Not bad.
It turns out that SCKW is a big vegetable fan, and will order vegetables at every meal. This cabbage was cooked well, no complaints. Not what I would’ve ordered, but that’s why this guy is so much more healthful than me.
Dumplings, possibly pork and chive. I have very high standards for dumplings, coming from a Northern Chinese family, and these were not the best. I don’t think they were really better than frozen dumplings from the local Asian grocer. I won’t go so far as to imply that they are one and the same. I’m done with being threatened with legal action.
OTHER THOUGHTS I would’ve liked to have the Ma La Xiang Guo that Ma La Xiang Guo is named after. Maybe next time.
Ma La Xiang Guo 麻辣香锅 152 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134 0478 827 868
One intrepid Google Maps reviewer proclaimed Pho Mom the best pho restaurant in all of Canterbury, if only by virtue of it being the only pho restaurant in Canterbury. While I don’t personally know this Johnny Wong gentleman after paying Pho Mom a visit this past week I can certainly echo his sentiments.
The beef special pho ($18.50) came with the standard assortment of rare beef beef balls, and beef tripe, but to be honest apart from this I did not find it to be very special. The ingredients are all fresh and of good quality, but I found the soup to be somewhat one-dimensional, watery and generally lacking in depth of flavour. Perhaps it is merely personal preference, and you can browse the rest of blog to find what kinds of pho I do enjoy, but this bowl just didn’t do it for me.
Though I was let down by the pho, the fried wonton ($13) were a surprise hit. These were incredibly meaty and juicy inside, with good flavour as well as a good sweet and sour sauce for dipping on the side. This was pretty much just a random order, without big expectations, but they truly did impress.
The rice paper rolls ($13) were of good quality with soft rice paper and fresh ingredients inside, but what was really stand-out about these was the great peanut sauce. I’m also happy that we weren’t locked into choosing 4 of the same roll as the menu might suggest, and they were able to give us 2 of 2 different fillings. We had the prawn as well as the pork.
OVERALL I don’t think Pho Mom really lived up to the name of being the mother of all pho. I found their pho to be their weakest offering, but thought that they exhibited unexpected strength in other areas. Given that they’re just down the road from me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and try some of the other options on their menu, but given also our proximity to other high quality Vietnamese restaurants I don’t think I will go back just for pho.
Pegfeeds adherents know that this blog originally started as an idea to catalogue all different types of Asian groceries and snacks so that I could remember what I liked and what I didn’t like. That never really took off, and to this day I still keep buying the same snacks having forgotten that I don’t actually like them.
I boiled these Pork and Chives Dumplings (15 for $12.50) in the usual way. While they were not bad, and definitely better than 90% of the other frozen dumplings on the market, they weren’t quite as good as Big John’s. There was a good quantity of chive, with a good filling to wrapper ratio, but at the end of the day I didn’t feel like the texture of the meat was as good. It kind of faded away into nothing, where I prefer a bit more of a coarser grind to the pork to give it a bit of bite.
Having said that, they’re not bad, right. The flavour was OK, and they certainly slide into the premium tier of frozen grocery store dumplings. They just don’t beat the reigning champ.
麒麟 手工韭菜猪肉水饺 – UPC 0793420734661
UPDATE. I had more of their frozen dumplings/wontons and didn’t feel like it really warranted a separate post, especially as this one’s already been published. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have an entire meal at Chi Lin and this will become a restaurant review instead of a review of only frozen dumpers.
The Chi Lin Pork and Vegetable Wontons were actually quite good. They were better, in my opinion, than the Pork and Chives Dumplings.
I preferred the thinner wrappers of these wontons, as well as the filling, which had a more complex umami flavour. These wontons even came with soup flavouring for a bit of a hot and sour soup, which was tasty even if not elevated. At $11.50 for 12 from Orange Supermarket in Wentworth Point, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy these again.
Chi Lin Pork and Vegetable Wontons – 0793420734630