mr wong, sydney
We have an affection for rusty and rickety things, I think, because they conjure up another time, a slower time, when we took time to do things properly and made space for one another in our lives. We keep grandmother's plates because they were precious to her, we buy keepsakes in old stores because it was somebody's something special once. In a throw-away world, the rustic and the rickety place us in a slow moving place, where we can sigh and breathe and be together. There's a new space under the city, in the hidden back street alleys, where tables nestle amongst precious old things, where mellow blues and jazz plays and waiters wear bracers and black vests. It's a setting that gives us a moment to be together, greet each other at the table, shake hands and offer squeezy hugs, and simultaneously share food. Food nurtures this togetherness. Good food revives our senses and invites us to be present in the moment and to delight in what we have in front of us. At Mr Wong, this new dumpling place lead by chef Dan Hong and the Merivale Group, steaming bamboo baskets of dumplings bring with them a palpable sense of joy in a setting of beautiful, rusty and rickety things.
Sydney's once proud dim sum culture can be faulted at times; bamboo baskets arriving too hurriedly and too cold, Mr Wong revives us with inventive, fun and pitch-perfect dumplings. Green tea arrives in traditional pot-bellied white ceramic, Chinese mushroom dumplings ($9) arrive in a bamboo steamer, and the lid stays on so they're hot until they're gone. Lobster Mei Si rolls ($11) are crispy pillows of spun gold, nutty fried noodles delicately wrapped around the tender meat. Asparagus and scallop dumpling with XO Sauce ($9) are transparent dumplings, soft and freshly turned. Steamed BBQ pork buns ($9.80) are everything we want them to be, not too large and the pillowy white buns opening to a rich purple barbecue centre. The pan-fried pork buns ($9.80) are however the most immaculately produced little things, fresh and soft, filled with a gorgeous broth that bursts into the bowl when pierced with a chopstick. Their pan-fried sticky bottoms are a masterstroke, elevating the humble dumpling to something worthy of a cult following. This is not cheap dining, but maybe dim sum doesn't always have to involved overeating anyway. A few dishes here go a long way.
This gorgeous new space is filled with beautiful old things, reminding us that what once was precious can be precious again. And so fitting this is as Mr Wong also revives Sydney's dim sum scene, bringing back something that was once so important to this city, and giving it another glory day.
All photography by Kate Gibbs.
Mr Wong, 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney >> (02) 240 3000