This is the latest in my series of lunch on Smith St posts. Bowl Bowl Dumplings is a very new Chinese dumpling restaurant where Wood Spoon Kitchen used to be on the Collingwood side of Smith St. There’s been no Chinese dumplings on Smith St for several years, since the closure of the Bamboo Room (where Huxtaburger is now). You can get dumplings in Fitzroy at China Bar on Brunswick St, but that’s about it.
The push of new eateries into the area has seen two of the veteran Japanese places close recently, with Cocoro also closing last year (replaced by the Korean White Kimchi), thus reducing the overall number of businesses in the Smith St Japanese precinct. Putting scarce Chinese dumplings in the middle of the Japanese precinct looks like a clever idea to me as it adds to the diversity of the Smith St strip.
Hutong and Shandong Mama may be the reigning dumpling champions in Melbourne. Can somewhere closer to home supplant them? Bowl Bowl has a short menu with several kinds of dumplings, including vegetarian, and a few of other dishes like Shanghai style noodles. I invited my colleague to lunch and we ordered the pork and cabbage dumplings (fried, pictured below) and the chicken and fennel dumplings (steamed, blurred photo of white dumplings on a white plate not suitable for publication).
Both were good and reasonably priced at $10 and $12 each. We agreed that the chicken and fennel ones had the more unusual and interesting flavour, but the others were good too, as was the house made chilli sauce. Bowl Bowl appears to have no online presence. It may take a while for them to catch on as they have opened over the sleepy Melbourne summer, but I think they will do well once people find them. I’ll be returning to work my way through the menu!