You wouldn’t expect lamb skewers to be the best thing on the menu at a restaurant named 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles. But if you make it to this casual restaurant in Footscray and don’t eat at least two lamb skewers each, you’re missing out.
1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles has been around for quite a while. Located on Hopkins Street, across from the Footscray Market, they serve north western Chinese / Xinjiang food. Food in the Xinjiang region of China generally uses quite a bit of lamb/mutton and no pork because it’s a region with a high proportion of Muslims, due to the geographic nearness of the Middle East. Noodles are primarily made with wheat flour and cumin is a common spice.
I hadn’t eaten at 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles in quite a few years (for some reason I thought they had closed!) and was pleased to find on my latest visit with Maztech, Bro, Bro’s gf, and Alastair, that not much had changed. The walls had been painted, and there was now a helpful photo menu, but it was still the same casual joint that I remembered. And the lamb skewers were still on the menu. Win win win.
There’s several kinds of dumplings on the menu – steamed, boiled, fried, pork, seafood, lamb, etc. Of course we had to order a plate, choosing pork pan fried dumplings ($10 for 15). They were pretty tasty – fried bottoms, a thickish skin and a *very* juicy interior that threatened to spurt juice across the table.
As well as dumplings, we also had to order noodles. Again, there were several options. We had a plate of the Xinjing fried noodles (we requested pork – $12). The thick, unevenly cut noodles were super long and cooked in a slightly sour sauce with capsicum, pork, tomato and loads of garlic.
We also had a bowl of the braised beef brisket noodles ($11) – the beef had been braised with star anise and came with noodles and a couple of pieces of broccoli. It was okay.
I requested a serve of oven lamb buns ($9 for 6) and from the picture on the menu was expecting a bready style bun. Instead, the oven lamb buns were rectangles of puff pastry filled with a filling of spiced lamb meat. That was fine, because I like puff pastry and they were quite good. (Plus the menu does say that items received may not look like the photos.)
Food was coming quick and fast, and next we received the BBQ lamb skewers ($2 each, minimum of 4). We ordered ten skewers with chilli, but to be honest they weren’t spicy at all. They were still good though: heavily spiced with cumin, smokey, slightly charred. My advice is to drop everything and eat them as soon as they arrive so they’re still hot because they’re best then.
In a slightly failed attempt to order some vegetables, I requested the marinated eggplant ($13). The eggplant had been cut into large chunks and deep fried, then coated in a garlicy savoury sauce. Snortle. I’m pretty sure the way it had been cooked negated any vegetable goodness. The flesh was super tender, though the skill was still tough. I ate so much of the eggplant – it was so oily and mushy, and there was so much garlic… oh boy, it was good.
And finally, we also had the spicy stir fried ox tongue ($14.50). It wasn’t bad, but not spicy, and the tongue could’ve been a touch more tender. The dish was cooked with loads of garlic and red and green capsicums.
1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles is one of those restaurants that isn’t particularly flash. The fit out isn’t anything to talk about, cutlery is self serve, and the tables hold boxes of facial tissues and thermos of tea. The food isn’t refined – they use a lot of spice and garlic, and (depending on what you order) it can be a bit stodgey. However, it’s good value for money and an enjoyable place for a casual meal. Don’t forget to order lamb skewers and you’ll be sweet.
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1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles
84 Hopkins Street
Phone: 03 9687 8988