Australian summer, we often think of the beach and of beer (Kent loves beer!). Sydney has great beaches and is a city which does Asian cuisine extremely well. If you have been following our recent posts, you would have noticed that this mini series is Sydney Eastern Suburbs focused, and Stanley Street in Darlinghurst is the first ‘stop’ after the CBD. And, as we are approaching the arrival of Chinese New Year; a post which relates to Chinese culture through food just makes perfect sense!
Meet Michel Angelo
Michel Angelo, the co-owner of Dumplings and Beer (餃子啤酒) on Stanley. This friendly Prince Frederik look-alike Italian guy is a former retailer. His longtime friends Alex and Rose Ly are the Singaporian brother-sister team who opened the first Dumplings and Beer (D&B) in Potts Point. It was doing so well that Michel joined in too later on.
‘The idea was from Rose.’ Michel explained. And clearly, Rose’s simple formula of dumplings with beer has worked. After the success of the D&B in Potts Point, a year later, the second iteration of D&B was opened. ‘When we first opened here, there were four empty properties side by side. After a little while, as our business improved, one by one the empty shops were taken and more people started coming back to Stanley Street again.’
Stanley Street had long been popular with the Italians since the 1950s and was subsequently Sydney’s first ‘Little Italy’. Nowadays it’s vibrant again, and it has a multi-cultural and cuisine energy along it’s tree lined street of lovely looking terrace houses.
We love visiting here for exhibitions at Stanley Street Gallery just down the way or coffee at the classic Bill and Toni’s Italian caffè across the road, and I think Michel chose a fantastic location for his business.
Beer, Friendship And All That Dumplings
The beers are on tap, ‘Sapporo is our most popular beer, followed by (local craft beer) Lord Nelson’s Three Sheets.’ As Michel was delivering this info, our friend, Australian fashion photographer and film maker Brett Hilder arrived. Perfect timing to join Kent in a cool glass of Sapporo.
Since Michel and I were introduced via Brett, I thought it’d be a nice venue to invite Brett for our last gathering before he returned to his second home Cuba.
Brett greeted me with ‘Nice cheongsam Vivienne!’; well he has always been generous with compliments. ‘Thank you!’ I happily replied.
‘Are you a wine drinker Vivienne?’ Michel asked, ‘Yes I am!’ And I was offered a glass of Pinot Gris. Being the only Asian at the table, I proceeded to order a selection of food for Brett, Kent and myself to share. Here’s what I chose:
Xiao Long Bao
Steam Scallops, Pork and Chives Dim Sum
Crackling Pork Belly Sliders
Mild Chilli Beef and Mushroom Dumplings
Pan-fried Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
There were Dim Sum, soupy ‘Bao’; hot buns and pancakes.., basically dumplings of all kinds.
‘The Crackling Pork Belly Sliders are one of our most popular dishes.’ Said Michel. How lovely, the sliders were like an open steam bun. Our Shallot Pancakes and Pork Belly Sliders arrived first and let me assure you that the crisp pork skin was definitely crackling – a contrast to its soft and fluffy bun! Kent said his was ‘light and crispy’. I enjoyed the balance of the Hoisin sauce too, it was not hard to understand why this dish has been such a crowd pleaser.
Besides the Crackling Pork Belly Sliders, my favourite among the dishes I ordered was the Steamed Scallops Pork and Chives Dim Sum. I loved the silkiness of the scallops! I could have eaten dozens of them easily.., but don’t worry we did share and they were enjoyed by all.
Michel filled us in on changing trends as customers have worked their way through the menu… ‘In the beginning, people seemed to go for the traditional Steam Pork Dim Sum, but the Scallops Dim Sum has become more and more popular.’
Oh, did I mention how good was their home-made secret ingredient chilli sauce? ‘We are asked all the time if they can buy the chilli from us. But it is not for sale!’ Confirmed by Michel; you may only have this special chilli here. You really have to try it yourself. It’s great!
Chinese Traditional Tearoom With A Western Twist
What I adore about D&B is the ambience of the Chinese traditional tearoom; it reminds me of those Wuxia TV dramas I grew up watching. Then of course, the dumpling/beer/bar/tapas creates the East meets West combo. I think it works well in Sydney as Sydneysiders are very familiar with Chinese food and they certainly love their beer.
Eggplant, Black Fungus And Tofu Wrap
‘Is there anything else I didn’t order that you would recommend?’ I asked Michel as we still had room in our stomachs and were keen to try maybe one more plate.
‘How about the Eggplant and Tofu Wrap?’
We went with Michel’s suggestion and this was a Peking duck style wrap, a larger portion; vegetarian friendly: pan-fried tofu with slow-roasted eggplant, black fungus, cucumber and coriander wrap. Truly delicious and healthy too!
Personally I’m a fan of eggplant and black fungus so it really worked for me!
In The Mood For Classic Kung Fu Films
Asian cinema with those dumplings – yes please! D&B has a large screen which plays popular Kung fu films. ‘We have some original Bruce Lee classics.’ – Michel.
I love the idea and certainly love the look of having a big screen playing Chinese Kung fu classics. It certainly adds an element of nostalgia and fun! The day we were there, it was Donnie Yen, one of my silver-screen icons of the screen!
So there I was, with Brett, who’s also a film maker, host and founder to our Sunday Movie Club until he started spending half of his year in Cuba… Kent and I both have great memories of bringing BBQ pork from BBQ King and wine to Brett’s on Sunday nights for this special face to face social time and film watching. What fabulous nights we shared!
Want To Try Dumplings And Beer On Stanley Yourself
83 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst is in the Eastside of Sydney which is a short walk from Museum or Kings Cross train station.
For enquiries, please call 02) 9331 4905 or simply go to the D&B website here.
This is a final post of my Sydney (Eastern Suburbs) mini series. Happy Year of the Dog to all my readers and stay tuned to find out where I’m about to show you next!