You know, I like being a traditionalist when it comes to my food, and I'm wondering what's wrong with keeping up with classic favourites. It's irksome that it's so difficult to find traditional rice dumplings nowadays. The gamut of rice dumplings available in the market ranges from the fanciful (red bean, durian and ice-cream) to the ridiculously indulgent (truffles and abalone). Seriously, if I wanted dumplings made entirely out of ice-cream, I'd just get ice-cream instead. And don't even get me started on mooncakes.
All I want is the traditional rice dumplings, made the way my granny used to make them. Okay, maybe not the way my granny used to make them because no one makes dumplings the way she did. On a sidenote, I've noticed that dumplings are one of those things that everyone thinks their mother/grandmother/mother-in-law/grandmother-in-law makes the best versions. I never used to have to worry about that when Gran was alive, because she made the most mouth-wateringly delicious dumplings. I'd get my fill of dumplings, made 3 different styles, Nonya, Cantonese and Hokkien, come every Dumpling Festival (also known as Duan Wu Jie to the Chinese). She was just that versatile and amazing a cook.
Now I just have to get my cravings satiated at Eastern Rice Dumpling, a chain of rice dumpling shops that are open throughout the year but only busy during the Dumpling Festival. It's the only place I know that sells dumplings done the traditional way. Short of begging my friends (hint, hint!) to give me their portions of mom's/granny's dumplings, buying it from the shop is the only way to get my fix of dumplings. You know, one sure-fire way to know it's dumpling season when the prices of normally-priced items start getting jacked up. (It's the same for bak kwa, another seasonal Chinese festive product, isn't it?)
We got 4 different types of dumplings, all classics and Eastern's bestsellers. They were somewhat reminiscent of the dumplings I used to have, with a relatively homestyled appeal, but just lacking in that extra oomph and flavour. In short, good but not great.
The Cantonese-Style Dumpling ($3.80) with green beans, egg yolk, pork cubes marinated with five-spice powder.
The Salted Rice Dumpling ($3.30), with soy, chestnut, pork cubes marinated with five-spice and mushroom
The Salted Rice Dumpling with Egg Yolk ($3.80), which is basically the salted rice dumpling with an additional egg yolk.
The Nyonya Rice Dumpling ($3.30) with white glutinous rice and fine pork cubes flavoured with coriander powder.
The shop front, which is now packed with customers taking away bunches of dumplings.
Eastern Rice Dumpling
300 Balestier Road
Tel: 6352 6283
Open daily 24 hours