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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cho Dumpling King, Haymarket Chinatown

Cho Dumpling King is always surrounded by a queue of people. Often you'll find a staff member acting as bouncer to the crowds. She hands out menus with brusque efficiency, and it's only when you've placed your order that she'll put your table numbers down in her notepad queue.

The restaurant name is a bit of a misnomer. There are no dumplings to be found here. Instead it's a mix of Taiwanese dishes, all printed in large on the window, each accompanied by photos. The window offers a visual enticement of side dishes, all neatly plated and ready to be served.

You only need to decide on your main meals outside before you communicate them to the bouncer -- side dishes can be chosen ad hoc once you're inside the restaurant. The side dishes are cold but wide and varied, including pig ears, deep-fried white bait, pork hock slices, potato salad, golden fried prawns and plates of baby octopus. They're also super cheap at only $3.50 each.

Queues outside Cho Dumpling King

The restaurant itself is the size of a shoebox, squeezing in 22 people with minimal room to move. It's noisy and chaotic but the diners - mostly Asian uni students - don't seem to mind. We squeeze our way to the display cabinet to pick out our side dishes, having to dodge rushing waitstaff carrying tea pots or serving dishes in the small gaps between each table.

Taiwanese style stewed minced pork rice set $9 (includes one side dish)

The three of us share two mains and a collection of side dishes. Stewed mince pork is a Taiwanese classic, a saucy huddle of sweet pork mince served on fluffy white rice and garnished with pickled daikon slices.

Firm tofu and cucumber $3.50

There's not a lot of flavour to the firm tofu, but its texture has the chewy satisfaction of meat. It's quite a light dish, especially with the chunks of pickled cucumber garnished with coriander and chilli.

Pork chop with rice value meal $9

A bento box holds our pork chop value meal, a flattened pork chop crumbed and deep-fried. The pork is tender and there's plenty to keep us occupied here, from the stalks of crisp broccoli, to mouthfuls of fluffy omelette and wedges of sweet orange to finish.

Crumbed and deep-fried pork chop

Fried eggplant $3.50

Fried eggplant is a little oily but it's so deliciously caramlised, soft and sticky that it's worth it, and we have no choice but to savour every last bite.

Bamboo shoots $3.50

We also dig into stalks of young bamboo shoots, always a textural treat with its bumps, grooves and crevices.

Fried chicken pieces $3.50

I put in a call for the fried chicken and I'm glad I did. The bone-in chicken has been marinated, battered and deep-fried to finger lickin' deliciousness, and even though the chicken is cold, the batter still has plenty of crunch.

Bitter melon $3.50

A plate of bitter melon balances all the evils of deep fried I say, at least on the palate anyway. Bitter melon is a bit of an acquired taste, but we grew up on this at home, usually stir-fried with beef and salted black bean.

Here it's served very plain, boiled and sliced, then dressed with vinegar, garlic and chilli. It is bitter, but I find it cleansing, particularly against all the grease we've just consumed.

Dining at Cho Dumpling King isn't for the faint of heart, particularly during peak hour. It's a whirl of queues, utilitarian ordering, cramped and noisy dining and an efficiently dispensed bill as soon as you've finished your meal. On the other hand, there's much fun to be had with the self-serve $3.50 side dish buffet, and with free tea on offer, we eat ourselves into a stupor for lunch for only $10.50 each. 

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Cho Dumpling King on Urbanspoon

Cho Dumpling King
Prince Centre, Shop 6
8 Quay St, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 2760

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11am – 8pm

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20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/16/2011 02:51:00 am


  • At 3/16/2011 5:10 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Love Taiwanese food, especially their pork chops and chicken. Not a bad looking bitter melon dish either. :-)

  • At 3/16/2011 7:14 am, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    I loved the sides here and the dumplings but it's been a while since I've been.

  • At 3/16/2011 8:43 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    No dumplings? Thanks for the heads-up. I suppose one could just stuff themselves with side dishes :)

  • At 3/16/2011 9:09 am, Anonymous Melissa@Melthefoodaddict said…

    so many side dishes to choose from! good to have small servings, that means can fit in more dishes!

  • At 3/16/2011 9:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great side dishes!!

  • At 3/16/2011 9:52 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    woah that bitter melon is so green. so bright. so vivid.

  • At 3/16/2011 9:59 am, Anonymous nobal Glomad said…

    yum yum and yumyumyum

  • At 3/16/2011 10:17 am, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    i love their afternoon tea specials! a small serving of food plus a drink for only $6 :D

  • At 3/16/2011 10:39 am, Blogger Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said…

    I love Cho Dumpling. Cheap and cheerful. Definitely miss places like this since coming over to London.

  • At 3/16/2011 2:16 pm, Anonymous Honey @ honeyandsoy said…

    Soy and I have always wondered about this place, Helen. Glad to read about what's on offer. One day when we can brave the crowds, we might stop by to stuff ourselves silly. Can't go past those prices!

  • At 3/16/2011 2:27 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    I keep getting confused by this place and the one right near it in the same arcade...I've been to one of them and LOVED it. I love those cheap side dishes - I'd end up ordering just though me thinks!

  • At 3/16/2011 4:08 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    I have walked past this place a thousand times and have seen the lines. Food looks fantastic and I love the price :)

  • At 3/16/2011 5:10 pm, Anonymous KFC so good said…

    I love this Taiwanese "tapas" place. But it is always a bit packed. The thinly sliced kelp dish is one of my fav on top of all the ones that you had. Yummy.

  • At 3/16/2011 6:03 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    As an obsessive snacker, all thes little bowls of yummy things to pick and choose from delight me. Pickledy things too! Whee!

  • At 3/16/2011 6:24 pm, Anonymous JasmyneTea said…

    I've always passed by this place because of how crowded and small it looked, but I might just give it a go next time, because I love trying new food and I've never had Taiwanese. Thanks for the review!

  • At 3/17/2011 3:32 pm, Anonymous SRC said…

    Oh wow. Presuming I actually get to travel to Australia one day (hopefully!), I'd love to go here. Food looks wonderful (as do the pictures) and great prices. Thank you!

  • At 3/17/2011 4:50 pm, Blogger susan said…

    Oh I would so be expecting dumplings if I came here. Love the assortment of side dishes though!!

  • At 3/18/2011 12:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice! Easily one of the best TW cuisines in Sydney

  • At 3/18/2011 10:14 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Haven't been here for a while and possibly not since my friend finished uni! It was one of her common hangs and it's easy to understand why =)

  • At 3/20/2011 9:15 pm, Blogger Lilia said…

    Cho Express at Hurstville train station is better and recommended than this one at Haymarket. I'm hooked with the Hurstville one as it is where you can get warm meals plus dishes which tasted better than Haymarket one and oh...the pearl milk tea is delicious too as they are using cream powder and traditional fragnant black tea.


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