Like a Kardashian pregnancy post, one food trend has had Sydneysiders in a frenzy this year: Chinese dumplings. At Mrs Mi you’ll get them in abundance but with a tangy Shanxi flavour and the silkiest noodles north of Chinatown courtesy of a robotic chef. Confused? Don’t be. It all comes together at this hip diner in Chatswood Chase.
With a wall of Oriental cerise gates and under a bunting of magenta flags, you’d be forgiven for thinking you weren’t in the Chase’s busy food court. It’s these mod touches, courtesy of the folks from Shanghai Stories 1938 on Chatswood’s Concourse that elevate Shanxi street food diner Mrs Mi from your typical food court experience. And typical it certainly isn’t.
Grab the 60-dish menu/order form and start with chilled cherry tomatoes steeped in sour-sweet plum juice and vinegar ($7.80). It’s a traditional palate cleanser and a foretaste of a dining journey that draws on northern China’s culinary heritage of light, fragrant yet utterly complex flavours.
Moving on to mains, the signature pork mince with noodles ($10.80) is a steaming bowl of ribbons so silky they’re a chopstick novice’s nightmare. Topped with salty soy mince and spiked with pickled vegetables and a row of julienned cucumber, it’s light but moreish, a mix of sour and spice, intense and fresh.
In Shanxi the dough is still hand cut with giant scissors to create spindly noodles with lovely tapered ends. At Mrs Mi they come courtesy of a knife-wielding, grinning robot chef who slices a swaddling of dough into a wok of steaming salted water as each order comes in. Want more? Try the braised beef noodle soup ($13.80) for melt-in-the mouth beef and a soup that’s surprisingly as light and salty in flavour as a summer’s day.
Dumplings here are of the delicate xiao long bao variety. Try the Mrs Mi xiao long bao (eight pieces $9.80) — steamed bite-sized dumplings filled with fresh ginger, shallot and chicken with a thimble of flavoursome broth. Dip into black vinegar for a more traditional accompaniment or chilli sauce for a modern kick.
There are also technicolour crescent dumplings in green, red and purple, with fillings like shrimp, pork and chicken. The assorted pan fried dumplings (eight pieces $14.80) takes the guesswork out of the order, but be prepared to fight over the last red dumpling, made with beetroot pastry and filled with sweet crab meat.
Fried chicken fanatics, don’t go past the Taiwan-style fried chicken ($15.80). The nuggets of juicy chicken are coated in batter so light you might forget they’re even fried. Wash it all down with the complimentary barley tea — a sweet, smoky beverage, nutty but refreshing. If you have room to spare, try the chilled coconut milk with sago ($5.80) and be prepared to wonder why you’ve never tried watermelon with coconut before.