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North East China Family, Flinders Lane, CBD { Melbourne Review }

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Boiled dumpling at North East China Family on Flinders Lane

Back in 2008 (dear god, has it been that long?), I discovered North East China Family – a double storey, modern dumpling restaurant on Flinders Lane between Liz and Queen. I went there on my own and had a fried rice and, by god, it was one of the best fried rice at a Chinese restaurant I had ever had. So I went back with Josh and others in tow for the dumplings numerous times since the initial visit.

seafood fried rice at North East China Family

(Seafood fried rice – $11?)

The dumplings themselves, vegetarian dumplings aside, were quite good. We have tried a few and settled the pork and pickled cabbage dumplings as our favourite. The skin wasn’t too thick or doughy and the fillings were well seasoned and balanced. The vegetarian ones, unfortunately, didn’t rate well. I found the filling of greens and a few other random bits of carrot were a bit one dimensional and, well, wasn’t any good.

Pork and pickled cabbage dumplings at North East China Family

(Boiled pork and pickled cabbage dumplings 15 for $8?)

The portions, on the other hand, used to be rather large and generous (15 for around $8? at the time) and if you consumed the whole plate of them,  you would have to roll yourself back to your office. I noticed the reduction in size over the past few years, however. Since then the dumplings had become a bit smaller and North East China Family had been less generous with the filling. I can’t say I blame the restaurant since most people seemed incapable of finishing a whole plate of dumplings. Another point to note is that the restaurant charges extra ($1?) for the pan-fried version of the same dumplings. As we very much prefer boiled dumplings over fried, we have not tried the fried variety.

fried noodles at North East China Family

(Apologies I can’t remember what this one was called. Possibly the Shanghai noodles)

Other non-dumpling dishes also rate well in my book. The fried rice, although it was never as good as the very first fried rice I had there, was decent with excellent wok hei and no too greasy. A few other dishes that we had included fried noodles with pork, beef and scrambled egg sauce on rice and Beijing noodles with meat sauce. All quite well made and quite tasty.

(Beef and scrambled egg sauce on rice?)

Now here comes the sticking point: the service. North East China Family had been very popular since they opened a few years ago and the service had dramatically declined in our last few visits back in 2010. While we normally scored a table without a lot of hassle, the food wait had become ridiculous. Our last visit, we received our first dish in 10 minutes and had to wait a good half an hour for our dumplings.

This was absolutely unacceptable during the lunch rush. We even stopped going there on Fridays and eventually other days as well. I can’t comment on how their service has been recently but if you have, please share your experience. I would also like to mention that the waitstaff were pleasant, though ineffective. I think the kitchen was more of the problem.

 

prawn dumplings at North East China Family

(Prawn dumplings)

We had also been back once during their dinner service. Their menu included ‘can only dinner’ section and we had sampled a couple of dishes from there and from memory, they were excellent compared to the lunch dishes which were good. The dinner service was nowhere near as terrible as lunch. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back there for dinner again but would be rather weary about lunching there if I don’t have unlimited lunching hours.

(Sweet pancake with red bean paste or lotus paste filling)

North East China Family used to be a really good lunch option for dumplings in the CBD with its cheap, tasty and generously portioned dumplings and other rice and noodle dishes. However, as their popularity grew, their service had been very disappointingly slow. I would recommend you try their dinner service, where the food and service were better, and stay away from their crowded lunch service.

North East China Family
Address: 302 Flinders La, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9629 9968

North East China Family on Urbanspoon

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Written by katspat

September 26th, 2011 at 11:30 am

3 Responses to 'North East China Family, Flinders Lane, CBD { Melbourne Review }'

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  1. I passed by this place a couple of times and saw that this place is always packed!

    It’s still popular then. I haven’t been back a while -K

    Michelle chin

    26 Sep 11 at 5:09 pm

  2. I’ve waited 40 minutes here before and completely lost the plot.. and walked out… it’s really quite sad, considering the potential they could have had.. *sigh*

    Yeah the wait got pretty bad, we never went back for lunch anymore. Might give dinner another try though -K

    msihua

    27 Sep 11 at 3:22 pm

  3. Go early or don’t bother is my advice. The kitchen starts to back up at about 12:15 and never catches up again.

    Service is routinely evasive.

    Bruce

    18 Nov 11 at 3:21 pm

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