Showing posts with label South Melbourne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Melbourne. Show all posts

03 September 2009

The Rose Hotel

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.

Once in a while I hook up with old friends - and a couple of new ones - from the advertising industry to chew the fat over a lunchtime cheap eat. I love the comfort of the outing, exchanging news, experiences and ideas. I get excited and chat my head off. The Banff in St.Kilda has been a popular venue for this gathering, but it is always heaving and not a particularly comfortable venue for a medium sized group, so we adjourned today to The Rose in Port Melbourne, which is now run by the previous owners of Banff.

The Rose has been through many incarnations in the twenty odd years that I have been an irregular patron. In the eighties it was a trendy, yuppie pub, popular with the Marketing crowd, then it became a party pub, eventually a retro party pub - playing music from the yuppie era when eighties parties came into vogue - and then for a time a serious wine pub. For the last few years it has been a Gourmet Traveller and Good Food Guide vaunted Greek restaurant and bar, surviving two different ownerships. And then Port Melbourne changed.

The restaurant got increasingly quiet and even enticements to the Greek community such as live basouki music failed to draw them in. A nearby Greek Restaurant that had also once drawn big crowds at a sister venue in Swan Street, Richmond also felt the pinch and moved their focus to a generic European offering, serving cheese degustations, breakfast, coffees and a deli selling pre-made take-home meals.

The elderly Greek community began to die out and their children took advantage of sky-rocketing property prices to sell the down at the heel Port Melbourne family homes that had nurtured them since geting off the boat at Station Pier. I suppose many built Mc Mansions in Oakleigh, and with the move, the local demand for Greek Food was ably sated by Old Man Stavros' plate smashing institution in Albert Park. The Rose was regularly empty and eventually sold. The owners moved to South Melbourne to sell pizzas.

The first I heard of the new regime at the venue came in the form of a flyer - from Rose Bar Pizza - also touting Gourmet pizza albeit with a cleanskin bottle shop. "Not another pizza venue?" I said to Mr Sticky, "We already have eleven pizza joints within walking distance of home. How will they survive?"

But we were sufficiently enticed to try it, being at the end of our street, and because I wanted try Italian Sausage pizza with caramelised onions; Roast pumpkin, Gorgonzola, rocket & pine nut pizza, along with Prawn, chilli, saganaki, lemon & rocket pizza. We did not regret it.

Essentially the menu here is the same as Banff's because the former Chef is now at the Port Melbourne venue. Since her departure, I've noticed that the food in St.Kilda is less reliable and so our moving our group's lunch to Port Melbourne was a sound one. As one of my locals, their offer of a selection of 10 excellent gourmet pizzas at $5.50 for lunch Monday to Friday, and on Monday & Tuesday nights is hard to go past. And I love that this is further proof that you can get gourmet grub that beats Maccas for value.

At Rose Bar Pizza, as it is now known, the pizzas are midsized and thin based with a generous serve of quality toppings. There's no bulk bags of commercially grated cheese or ham of dubious origins here. Each pizza is flavoursome, with the right amount of crunch and chewiness. I can also recommend their salads, the potato, saganaki and rosemary pizza; Chorizo, artichokes, cherry tomato and olive pizza; Moroccan Lamb with mint yoghurt and za'atar pizza and the velvety Macaroni Cheese which arrives in a miniature paella pan.

As a chick, I never seem to be able to finish the pizza on my own so although tempted, I have yet to try the chocolate, cherry & ice cream pizza or the apple crumble & custard version. Given that they have happy hour from 3-6pm every day, I may just have to slide down there for 'afternoon tea'.

Like Banff, they also serve the delicious frothies made by Bearings Brewery in Geelong at $2.50 a pot. So today, at lunch the boys enjoyed a meal for $10.50 including a couple of beers. A couple of them tried the tasting tray at the bar to sample which cleanskin they fancied quaffing, and a good time was had by all in this large, modern yet comfortable room, with it's long marble topped communal space and walls festooned with art and customised pizza boxes decorated by regulars.

Time slipped away quickly in such convivial surrounds. I left clutching a box of my leftover pizza and a takeaway so that my beloved did not miss out. As I walked home to work again overlooking my garden, I counted my blessings: a beautiful Spring day, great friends and simply prepared quality food that didn't break the bank. Life is truly good.

Rose Bar Pizza
309 Bay Street, Port Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia ph. 9646 3580
Mon-Fri Noon until late, Saturday 5pm until late

Rose on Urbanspoon

04 February 2009

The Swallows Vs Nacional

Sustainable. The communal table at Nacional lit by a fixture made of recycled bottles. The vases are large jars sitting in a wooden wine crate.

A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards
as carefully as if she were plain.

F.Scott Fitzgerald

Everyone needs a good local. A place where you can prop up bar, or slink into casually when you're not in the mood to fire up the stove. Where you can mingle with mates and even impress a few from other burbs.
Living in Port Melbourne we are lucky to live in the vicinity of a few pubs serving good grub at a range of prices, a good fish and chip shop, along with a smattering of sound Asian eateries and a decent Frenchie. But ever curious we recently tried two new ventures.

It started with indecision in one of our local pubs. Should we eat the bar food or a meal? Over a couple of beers, we surveyed the bar food and decided eventually that it constituted the kind of snacks that you might have with a late afternoon bevvie. Croquettes, seafood spring rolls, oysters, chicken wings etc. So after an enquiry and a table turned, into the restaurant we went.

The venue was The Swallows Hotel, which has recently passed into the hands of the Rubira family. They have a long history of running venues with a seafood bias in Melbourne, the last having been in Sorrento. Sound venues that have enjoyed a low key measure of success. The Swallows venue itself had been a bastion of the long wine list and hearty rib sticking comfort food, with lazy afternoons of drinking over at the boules court alongside the light rail tracks. But the last owner somehow couldn't pin down the long tried and true formula and eventually surrendered it to the Rubira's.

When we entered the dining room it appeared that the old Swallows clientele of retirees had returned along with the Rubira's faithful who looked as though they once holidayed in Sorrento, but now were getting a little long in the tooth for all that jazz. Most of the parties were celebrating one thing or another and twice we heard an operatic version of "Why was she born so beautiful...?" gush from the tonsils of one of the waiters followed by a smattering of polite clapping from the geriatric audience.

As the starched linen grazed our knees, the volume of chatter became deafening. The pub is small and retains all the genteel features of a bygone era, such a sea green tiles upon the wall, a dark wood bar and Victorian era plaster festoonary, crowned with incongruously modern lampshades. The windows sit high, allowing those at the tiny bar to gaze out to the park, but do not benefit those seated at dining tables, whose repose is dominated by a somewhat tired traditional colour scheme of burgundy, cream and forest green.

Our waitress called us 'Luv, luv, luv' repeatedly and the tenor waiting tables pointed us towards the blackboard menu. There was no paper menu. It was 8.45pm and the waitstaff danced the teeming room like a couple frenzied dragonflies.

After scanning back and forth across the
wide menu, the thing that struck me first were the six breeds of fish marking the main courses, noting their provenance as all being from Australian waters. Each is available with your choice of beer batter, panko crumbs, fried, grilled or egg wash and are served with fat chips.

The remainder of the mains consist of the obvious - linguine marinara and seafood lasagne, to steak and the odd man out, a double cooked Peking duck. Vegetables cost extra - $8 a serve in fact - and a trend that I abhor in venues. Entrees were many and included salt and pepper prawns, crumbed sardine fillets, Bruny island oysters available prepared in a variety of ways ($3 ea) and oyster shooters($5ea).

I saw whitebait fritters listed as an entree and my mind was filled with many memories of these tasty little critters quickly fried to a crisp, lightly suspended in batter and offering a melt in the mouth moment of fishy paradise. What a marvellous summer dish, but I couldn't have made a poorer choice.
All fantasies of deliciousness were dashed on their arrival.

A fat omelet, not a fritter, sat on my plate cut into quarters. The first piece did not contain fish. It was thick, fluffy egg with the occasional lashing of chilli fire. The second piece contained what appeared to be freshly hatched threadlike white bait, resembling over sized sperm. But they were so swamped by the egg that had it not been for their tiny eyes and white flagellum I might not have been aware that they had been added at all. It was stodgy and not what I had ordered.

I was not a happy camper.
I sipped my glass of Red Claw pinot gris smouldering with ire; underwhelmed. 'It should be listed as an omelet, not a fritter, on the menu', I said to Mr Stickyfingers, my eyes narrowing with frustration. 'That. Was. Not. A. Fritter!' It really was not what I had felt like eating, it neither met nor exceeded my expectations. And it did not bode well for the rest of the meal.

The mains arrived and quite frankly they were serviceable but nothing to write home about. Mr Stickyfingers Seafood Linguine was a little too dominated by chilli and was sitting in a watery coral coloured pool of fish stock, tomato water and spices. The seafood itself was fine, but the dish was lacklustre. The linguine itself reeked of dried commercial pasta with nothing to recommend it, the sauce was thin, unlike the anticipated unctuousness of a pasta that is either lightly slicked with olive oil or clinging to an unctuous sauce.

My garfish came as five plump fillets pan fried - not grilled as requested. I am accustomed to having garfish whole and felt slightly bereft at the homogenised experience. Plated with lemon and a not excessively piquant Tartare sauce studded with chives, a small bowl of wedge shaped brown chips - that were a little well done - were set to one side. So much potential, so little delivered, I thought.

The best thing of the night was the spinach and pine nut salad dressed with sesame oil and soy, then studded with an ant sized dice of bacon and teeny-weeny pine nuts. When the bill came, we found that per head it was slightly more than our bill at Nacional, but over all a significantly less satisfying experience.

Mr Stickyfingers said that given the choice, he would prefer to return to Nacional and not Swallows. I have to agree, I have no desire to visit Swallows again under the current owners, but I can see that there is a market for this kind of place, particularly with an older, mainstream customer who doesn't really like the taste of fish or the navigation between bones, skin and flesh that comes with it. For us, to add insult to injury, the following day, Mr Sticky had gastro.

So what is Nacional? And why did we like it?

Nacional is located in a new commercial building on a residential street in Middle Park - though the address details claim the more fashionable Albert Park.

Fronting the main street it is a provedore, with a bistro attached that runs around the corner along Herbert Street. The decor is Modern Rustic, it's casual yet considered, and while floor to ceiling glass dominates it still retains a certain intimacy. There's no twee brocante or Victorian era bric-a-brac to clutter the space, yet it feels honest and earnest without being self conscious. I felt right at home there.

We arrived post theatre one Monday night after meaning to try their dinner service for ages. It was getting toward 9pm and wasn't busy, but the kids were still on school holidays at the time. We were seated near the back door overlooking the communal table - a popular spot at breakfast time.

Nacional has been up and running for about 6months, so we were confident that they would have hit their stride. Like Swallows, it has a good pedigree. The owners also ply their trade at the formidable Syracuse and were involved in the 'poor man's Press Club', known as Mini - a modern Greek venue. The chef Leena Monson was transplanted from Syracuse along with the resources of that venue's cellar.

Like Mini and Syracuse you have a choice of small plates to share, but there is the flexibility of having traditionally structured courses too. Surprisingly there is also a kids menu of things such as fish fingers, a mark of a business that knows their locale and potential clientele - being an added enticement at lunchtime for the packs of local braying Yummy Mummies who dispatch their offspring from the ubiquitous, badly parked SUV's and for working parents who need a quick meal out with the kids.

It was a tough call on what to choose from the menu and blackboard specials, so much sounded appealing and the emphasis on SOLE ingredients made it all the more enticing. Between four diners we each chose two small plates. Firstly through the kitchen hatch came some piadina, and then the table began to fill with dishes.

Softshell crab dusted in blue corn semolina and deep fried, hovered over a corn based salsa. Softshell crab is often battered or crumbed but this had a different spin and was very subtle in flavour. The squishy crab meat contrasting well with the crisp, slightly gritty crust and tangy succulence of the Mexican style salsa with grapefruit and avocado worked for me but not so much for my dining companions.

Duck confit on crisp triangles of flat bread felt a little like my Mum's
eighties dinner party hors d'oeuvres and were hoovered up by the others diners, but the fish wrapped in pancetta was excellent to all, along with a rich, braised belly pork that came with crackling. Slabs of deep fried polenta sat stacked like railways sleepers and married well with a harissa mayonnaise and like the dish of asparagus cleared the palate between richer items.

The whitebait here were mature and like the softshell crab, dusted and fried crisp to fishy, melt in the mouth perfection. Then we followed with a home style baked apple with excellent ice cream and a chocolate pudding.
By the time we paid up, we were replete, not overstuffed and the palates had truly been invigorated.

The cost was less than anticipated, and a welcome relief in these times. To bring that together with excellent quality ingredients that were deftly managed without being over complicated and matched with service that was attentive without being intrusive, made Nacional a big hit for us.

Quite frankly, this is an intelligently run business.
In culinary terms, although slightly less progressive than Movida Next Door, Nacional is a similar type of experience - smart, small shared plates bursting with the joys of good provenence and creative execution. That is, without being wounded in the hip pocket after the suffocating feeling of being cramped into a dark space, while simultaneously deafened by the roar of the business.

Instead Nacional was relaxed, comfortable and restorative, while being free of fads and the kind of people who aren't there for the food, but just want to be seen. This unpretentious nook is a breath of fresh air that I'm proud to say is one of my locals.

Nacional on Urbanspoon

19 June 2008

OMG! Chef's Hat Fire Sale

April 2007:

Fire has gutted a South Melbourne cooking equipment supplies shop, causing an estimated $250,000 damage.

Firefighters were called to the Chef's Hat store in Coventry Street about 3.30 this morning.

At the height of the fire, a rear wall of the building collapsed, blocking access to the seat of the blaze, in a storage area at the rear of the business.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade communications controller Laurie Crowther said crews called in extra resources and aggressively battled the fire from the front of the shop, confining the blaze to the storage area and "significantly" reducing the damage bill.

It took 25 firefighters 90 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

No one was injured.

In April last year the Chef's Hat Store in South Melbourne - specialising in hotelware and catering equipment - had a fire. Since then, I have been lurking there regularly, waiting for the fire damaged stock to come on sale. Well, finally, it has happened. I suppose the investigation has been concluded in so far as insurance etc and in front of the counter now are pallets of fire damaged stock.

I looked in and walked out with a perfect - though ash covered - Scanpan at a third of the retail price and some fabulous stemware priced at
50cents each. On sale there is all manner of items, some charred, covered in ash, dented or damaged, some in perfect condition and although mostly suited to the hospitality industry there are finds for the home cook too.

Terms of the sale are no refund, no exchange, no guarantee and no account payment. Had I a bigger kitchen I would have bought more paraphernalia and there was even a lamp I was eyeing off. I watched more stuff coming out of storage as the stock moved and there were only a modest number of shoppers milling about digging through cartons.

More good news - a new stall has opened next to the famous South Melbourne Market Dim Sim shop. Named Linx it is a Chinese roast meat store which ironically also sells dim sum, including Sui Mai - the dumplings that Aussie Dim Sims were modeled on. The window is sexily filled with glistening examples of Cantonese style roast meats that make my mouth water.

Both dine in and take away is offered, with outdoor seating and also a few tables indoors. The kitchen is on display and a Chinese Sui Mei Master and Dim Sum chef are hard at work, supported by a number of ladies who speak in reverential Cantonese to them.

I have eaten at Linx twice and taken away both Cantonese Roast duck and Char Sui. Both were as good as my father's. I give the dim sum the thumbs up too, including PG's favourite fried footballs, Ham Sui Gok. Also available are Chinese Red Roast sausage, soy sauce chicken and roasted crisp belly pork, which can be eaten on the spot served on rice. The menu has a selection of Malaysian noodles and the bain marie contains the
customary western oriented items like lemon chicken, generic stir fries etc.

Luckily for me it is open six days a week (Tues-Sunday) so I no longer have to go to Victoria Street, Richmond for a fix.

Chef's Hat, 131 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, Victoria

Linx Chinese Food - BBQ & Dim Sum

Stall 92-93 South Melbourne Market, Cecil Street South Melbourne
Tue-Thurs 11am-9pm, Wed-Sun 9.30am - 9pm
ph. 9696 1628

Both venues offer trade and retail sales

Parking for both venues

22 February 2008

Hotel Nest. Bar Food.

Rob Mills was bounding down the stairs at his old stomping ground, the Red Eagle Hotel, when something caught in his throat. As he stopped to clear it he noticed the crowd chanting and screaming below: "Millsy! Millsy!"

"I feel like a rock star," he said, uncertainly. "That's good, isn't it?"

For more than two years Rob Mills had worked this Albert Park pub as frontman for a cover band, the Megamen.

He was used to belting out upbeat covers of FM hits for the regulars; the blonde, buff, sun-kissed 20-somethings who swayed to Angel, by Robbie Williams, and sang along to 3AM, by Matchbox 20.

And even before the instant fame of appearing on Channel Ten's star quest, Australian Idol, Mills had habitually upstaged the other two in the band, Simon Candy and Brook Chivell.

Sometimes the two guitarists jokingly referred to themselves as "the chopped livers", figuring they might as well be chopped liver with all the attention they got playing next to Mills.

By Misha Ketchell - October 27, 2003

The Red Eagle is dead. When I started going there in the eighties it was par for the course because that was where all The Advertising people played, along with The Flower and The Rex in Port Melbourne. Later on The Botanical joined those ranks. When the Ponytail Set moved on it became the spot for the Millsy generation, but when they too left for the modern, renovated The Beach - once The Bleakhouse - the Red Eagle too became chopped liver.

In December it re-opened as Hotel Nest with a celebration marked with pleasant young blonde 'modules' as they're know in Adland and Rent-a-crowd personnel such as Suzy Wilkes. The opening, orchestrated by event company Gorgeous PR - who claim to have done the branding, PR, uniforms etc, as do Ennis & Perry - meant owner Michelle Matthews had her eyes set on a certain calibre of customer. But on two sweltering nights earlier this week it was filled not with the stunners but with locals, many of whom once belonged to the Ponytail Set of the eighties.

I nipped in for a quick bar lunch yesterday, to dip my toe in the water. Buoyed by the fact that Mansion Hotel Executive Chef Paul Raynor was now consulting to the venue and Nick Dodds, ex front of house at MoMo, Ezard and Gingerboy was working with them I expected good things. I wasn't disappointed.

Gone are the raucous bands and the really young crowd. The venue is modelled on places like 'The Bot' and I can see a similar crowd will converge there. It feels a little young for the Lamaro's set, but some may cross over. It is sleek, white, modern and full of expectation. The white marble counter across the bar drives your eye down the guts of the front bar. Quirky childlike touches add a modernity to the scene like a carved wood goat head wall sculpture, a cluster of white dovecotes and low colourful stools that remind me of my Nursery School in Surrey in the early seventies.

At 1pm unlike The Bot it was quite deserted for a venue of this size. But so also was Lord Cardigan further up in Albert Park Village and feted GastroPub, The Montague. In all I think there were ten patrons in the bar during my visit. Four Grey Nomads from the 90 000 tonne cruise liner which berthed momentarily at Station Pier were lured into the dining room. It will just be a matter of time before the St.Kilda Road Business types and cashed up Domestic Godesses of older private school children join the ranks, especially when the latter hear the news that they will be serving High Tea.

The bar menu was a fine example of the Modern casual dining scene and definitely not what had been offered in previous incarnations. Two $20 specials of Mushroom risotto or Penne with sugo, spinach, sausage and olives served with a glass of wine were drawn to our attention, scribbled on a blackboard.

Menu items listed included...

...And a Wagyu burger with blue cheese dressing, Tempura Prawns with Chilli Mayonnaise, Minute Steak Sandwich with caramelised onions and a Ploughman's Platter for two.

Gluten-Free-Gourmet, who had come for the spontaneous jaunt ordered the Chargrilled Swordfish which was served a touch rare and moist, with an Alsatian style potato salad featuring bacon and grain mustard. I didn't taste, but it appeared to be technically proficient and a very good simple offering. Chardonn-Ange tried the Penne special and gloated about the sausage - as all good women of Germanic descent are want to do after a good feed.

I ordered the Crispy Pork Salad, it was not a fragrant dish but certainly effective in its execution. Small thin, deep fried pieces of belly pork appeared triple fried until the required crunch factor was achieved. They sat atop a bed of cucumber shavings and snow pea sprouts - known as Dow Mui in Cantonese - which had been doused briefly in hot vegetable oil. The lot was garnished with spring onion and dressed in a concoction that seemed to comprise the rock sugar sweet pickling syrup from Asian pickled shallots with a splash of rice vinegar, not soy lime, as described on the menu. All it needed for a truly authentic touch were some sesame seeds and slivers of pickled daikon.

I enjoyed the crunch of the meat combined with the slippery and leafy. I liked the sweet and sour nature of the salad, but as an Oriental this is programmed into the suite of tastes appealing to my palate. For a 'girlie' lunch it was a perfect portion. If you have a larger appetite, perhaps an additional small dish shared between two would hit the spot.

Service was efficient and pleasant. The drinks list includes fourteen wines by the glass, twenty nine beers and - delighting The Coeliac - Little Creatures Cider. With our meals averaging $15 each it was a nice lunchtime diversion. I'm glad this local of mine has been revived and revised, there's something about it which has always felt welcoming and convivial. It is bound yet again to rise to popularity sans Millsy, potentially with an older and wiser league of former ponytail wearing Ad men and with the people who drift in their wake. Now next step, to try their Dining Room.

Hotel Nest, 111 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park, Victoria, Australia.
ph. +61 3 9699 9744

08 October 2007

Stinky balls of stodge

I looked up and looked down. The sky matched the newly concreted pavement. I rounded the corner and beheld the queue in the distance. It had snaked out to the edge of the wide, extended pavement and around along the bicycle path.

The café patrons looked on as a rag-tag group of locals, suburban visitors and tourists patiently waited on the street. The queue seemed to be a constant source of bemusement as they sippped caffé latés, and wrapped fat fingers around panini, bomboloni and pancakes, clustered on simple outdoor furniture.

I joined the queue. There were 26 people ahead of me. The wind bore a cold hole in my back and as the sky got darker, the rain spat icy droplets on my cheeks. I drew up my hood and buried my hands deeper into my pockets. Shuffling along with the rest of the expectant shoppers, the vendors moved sales along briskly. It took 5minutes to get to the front.

I knew what I wanted. Here there was no time for dilly-dallying or procrastination over the short menu. When you got to the counter you placed your order and were specific. Dim Sims, fried or steamed; Deep Fried Spring Rolls or crispy Potato cakes - all together, in separate bags or mixed bags? Cash only. Transaction complete, move on quickly.

Condiments to the left – slosh dark soy sauce or squirt lurid red Sriracha chilli into the bags and consume quickly on the street before the greaseproof paper of the brown paper bags melds into the dumpling pastry. Fingers covered in grease and sauce, I make a beeline for the public conveniences to clean myself up.

Mr Stickyfingers and I have a Sunday ritual. We start our day with freshly baked organic artisanal bread, with Marsh’s traditional eggs from chickens that roam freely, feeding on grass, insects and whatever fare they come across, with a helping of Gypsy Pig free range, rare breed bacon. It’s the perfect start to the day, healthy and delicious. We then get stuck into our chores and if we need something from South Melbourne Market – usually a visit to the market’s cheese room – then comes the second part of the ritual; the dim sim queue.

The antithesis to our breakfast, this anomaly in our diet is something that started as a way to entice Mr Stickyfingers to the market. But I too have begun to enjoy the stinky delights of God knows how many kinds of offal derived from beef and mutton, cabbage, starch and seasoning with a little meat, wrapped in a thicker than average Goa Tse dumpling pastry. I know, it sounds dreadful, but comes together well. Their Spring Rolls however are not to my taste. The filling is mushy and reeks heavily of cabbage, not unlike another Australian snack food – the Chiko Roll.

Although I have been visiting the market for twenty years it took me some time to come around to these giant dumplings. I suspect that the recipe has been refined somewhat since the death of the business’ patriarch and after, on two occasions, fines of $26,000 & $30,000 for breaches of food safety, arising from unsanitary conditions and not using refrigerated vehicles to transport their products. The recipe was until then, quite an adhoc production.

The Dim Sim is something of a culinary icon in Australia. It is a dumpling made by Chinese Vendors to appeal to western palates as a snack food and is a popular item sold in fish and chip shops and Chinese takeaways. It is not dim sum, which is found at Southern Chinese Yum Cha, though it would appear to be based on their tiny steamed Sui Mai dumplings.

Elizabeth Chong - a Melbourne Chinese cooking teacher - claims that in 1945 her father William Wing Young was the inventor, serving them in his restaurant Wing Lee and selling them at Football matches. The South Melbourne Market dim sim however, is the one upon which most commercial dim sims are based. With a large circumference packed with a stodgy, meaty filling, Aussies love them either steamed or fried.

Kuen Cheng was the father of this commercial ‘Dimmie’. As a cook for the US Marine corps he escaped the Japanese invasion of China and wound up in Darwin, working his way down to Melbourne, where in 1949 his family claims that he sold the dim sims from a trolley that he took to Caulfield Race Course and nearby pubs. It is said that the dumplings were originally very salty, which made patrons thirsty and kept him in the ‘good books’ with the Publicans who allowed this mutually beneficial trade to continue on their premises.

Once business was booming he relocated to South Melbourne market. Today Kuen’s children continue to maintain the business in a newly refurbished and larger stall. People come from all over Melbourne for their fix and there are always queues, even early in the morning. I once met a man who drives from Grafton in Northern NSW armed with an enormous car fridge, to buy large bags of frozen uncooked Dim Sims that will last him several months. He has been buying them since 1960. Such is the love for SMMDS.

South Melbourne Market Dim Sims, Stall 96. South Melbourne Market, Cecil Street (between Coventry and York Streets), South Melbourne, Victoria. Open: Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday: 8.00am - 4.00pm, Friday: 8.00am - 6.00pm. Closed: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday & some Public Holidays.