The folks behind Johnny Wong's Dumpling Bar must have known what they were in for. With veterans like Chinese Noodle Restaurant and Din Tai Fung, the dumpling scene is fierce. To crack the market these days, you've got to do more than sell the perfect doughy parcel of pork and cabbage. You've got to have a point of difference.
Neighbouring Lo-Fi and the Standard in Taylor Square, Johnny Wong's 30-seater shack offers an assortment of meat, seafood and vegetarian dumplings, a selection of mains and a no-nonsense cocktail list. Wong Tang Wednesdays welcome you to as many $1 dumplings as you can handle with a side of golden era gangsta rap presented by the Wong Tang DJs who take to the decks.
Yes, Johnny Wong is apparently a real person. He's also apparently heir to the Wong family throne of Taipei. It is he, the mysteriously unidentifiable dumpling king, who brings us the hot Asian street food we're about to eat. We're not too fussed either way, however, because the question of who Johnny Wong is moot when the dumplings are this good.
Try the scallop and shitake dumplings or the BBQ pork buns (both $8.50 for six pieces) to start followed by the roast duck, pomelo and Asian herb salad ($14) or lamb short rib with cucumber, chilli and black vinegar ($17). Wash any of these down with the Sakey Sakey cocktail ($12) — Tanqueray, Crème de Mure, lemon juice, syrup and wasabi — and you're in business.
Also worth noting is the fact that pretty much everything on the menu is served in paper; the dumplings and mains in paper trays and the cocktails in branded fast food-style cups. A quirky point of difference, yes, but let's just hope there's one industrial-sized recycling bin out back.
For a fast and fresh dumpling-lover's feed Wong's is the word, and if you're anything like us you'll dig it. And if you're lucky, the maestro might even impart some fortune cookie-carried wisdom.