Bamboo Basket at South Bank specialises in the food of Shanghai, and especially hand-made dumplings and noodles which you can watch being made through the shop-front window whilst waiting outside for a table.
Bamboo Basket can be busy and is popular with Australians and Chinese alike and especially families who can share the yum cha-style menu.
In China “yum cha” refers to the tradition of morning tea and “yum cha” literally translates as “drink tea”. It is similar to our concept of high tea or afternoon tea. Whilst drinking tea you share small, delicious plates of food. In Australia, yum cha focuses more on the food items served with the tea and you can eat as much or as little as you like.
There is a huge range of dumplings, steamed buns and noodle dishes but Bamboo Basket’s specialty is Shanghai Xiao long bao (soup dumplings) – soft little dumplings stuffed with pork mince served in a light delicate broth. Other treats include prawn dumplings which are plump, full of prawns and melt in the mouth.
If you are not a fan of dumplings, try the salt and pepper calamari tentacles which are crisp on the outside but soft and tender on the inside, or the traditional Shanghai-style deep fried vegetable spring rolls, also crisp and tasty served with a mild chilli sauce.
Make your own duck pancakes with succulent roast duck served with wrapping crepes, leek and cucumber, and Hoisin sauce – and share some pork buns with barbecue pork slices served with soft flour buns, cucumber and barbecue sauce – a classic tasty snack, light and full of Asian flavour.
Finish with honey pumpkin sponge cakes or coconut and sago jelly with mango. There are also some gluten-free options and a vegetarian menu.
The red and black interior is classic Chinese. The open kitchen with its glass front to the street provides plenty of entertainment as you watch the chefs stretch and steam noodles and fill endless dumplings. The service is generally fast and friendly but can be slow when busy. The wine and beer list is limited, but then one should be drinking tea with yum cha!