Where 132 Koornang Road, Carnegie, 9530 9141
Open Mon and Thurs-Sun, noon-9.30pm; Tues-Wed, 5-9.30pm
Cards Amex MC V eftpos
Do … Expect to be struck with ''dumpling white-line fever''
Don't … Bring any booze; licence pending
Dish … Pan-fried pork dumplings
Vibe … Unfussy, low-key and few frills
Prices … Dim sum, $3-$8.50; mains, $8.80-$21.80
LISTEN UP, DUMPLING FANATICS, this place is a ripsnorter. Potstickers? Oh yeah. Xiao long bao? You betcha. Frilly shark fin steamers submerged in a chilli oil soup? Bring it on home, sweet momma. Eastern Dumpling House is a three-month-old player on the busy Koornang Road strip, a goldmine for under-$30 eating. It's owned and run by Chinese-born chefs Sevn Chen and Yu Chen and their mate Qing Chen.
Sevn studied the art of xiao long bao in Shanghai and was further taught the ways of mini-fried buns (potstickers) by Min ''Sammy'' Shi, who owns the two Shanghai Street restaurants in the CBD. Sevn helped out at Shanghai Street when it was reviewed (here) last September and the numbers took off.
Eastern's dumplings are handmade daily - you can taste the freshness - and Sevn says there's salt in the dough, adding texture and flexibility to the wrappers so they're better able to hold their contents. ''And they taste better,'' he says.
The flavour-packed vegetarian dumplings are standouts, lovely pleated parcels of Chinese mushroom, springy cloud ear fungus, cabbage and rice vermicelli, all laced with sesame oil.
Take care with the (excellent) pan-fried potstickers, these guys are squirters, and there was a silk shirt casualty at my table plus a mild case of ''soup-burn''.
So worth it though, these gingery, garlicky pork-filled packets are brown-bottomed little beauties. And the mini wontons in chilli oil are worth a look too, the spicy soup creating a warming, slow-burn.
Dumplings are a specialty but the 105-item menu is by no means limited, and there's a raft of noodle dishes, stir-fries, cold salads (such as five-spice beef) and ma po tofu.
Lush claypots include the beef brisket and radish, the meat slow-cooked till it's sticky and gelatinous, the aromatic broth fragrant with star anise and cinnamon, and the oblongs of daikon radish (boiled in chicken stock) soft and flavoursome - a soul-satisfying dish.
At this stage it's unlicensed, a downer if you fancy a lager with your dumpling frenzy. A BYO licence is pending. Sevn hopes it's only a couple of weeks away, and the good news is there'll be no corkage once it's in place.
Too-bright lighting and hands-off service mean you mightn't be inspired to stick around for too long, even though Eastern is flasher than most of its rivals, with bamboo wallpaper, birchwood IKEA tables and chairs, and faux floorboards.
Who cares, right? On the food front, Eastern delivers. Dumpling fiends, get scoffing.