Sunday, August 4, 2013

1+1 Mandarin Dumpling Restaurant

"I'm going out for western Chinese tonight", I said.  "What", scoffed my friend M, sorting through his heirloom cabbage seeds.  "Sweet n' sour and black bean beef?"  "No", said I.  "Food from western China!"


That little exchange was actually over the new branch of Dolan Uyghur in the city (and M wasn't really sorting through his heirloom cabbage seeds, but I like to give him shit).  But it's not Dolan Uyghur I want to introduce you to - it's the new and improved 1+1.

First, a bit of back story.  China is about as big as the continental US, and while many tend to think of Chinese food as some kind of monolith comprising nothing but stir-fry, dumplings and rice, the country is rippled with regional variations.  In the northeast, there are hearty soups full of sauerkraut-like cabbage; in central Sichuan, they hubble and bubble with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and delicate white fish.


But the Xinjiang region at China's northwestern fringe is another kettle of fish altogether.  Here, the people are Muslim, speak a Turkic language that's written in Arabic script, and it's lamb that's the star of the show.  Check out the skewers and the pilaf above - they look more Middle Eastern than Chinese!  The Xinjiang area is arguably more connected culturally to its neighbouring central Asian republics like Turkestan and Uzbekistan than to Beijing.


1+1's been serving up Xinjiang (also known as Uyghur, although the terms aren't totally interchangeable) fare in Footscray for years, but recently acquired new owners.  They inserted "Mandarin" in the title and have done some zhooshing up.


We'd no sooner plonked down and started browsing when a helpful waitress appeared.  "Would you like some suggestions?"  Yes, please, we said, and she set about giving us a crash course in western Chinese food.  Highly recommended are the cold salads, handmade noodles and dumplings, and everything lamb.

Hot spicy cucumber, $9

You can't miss this cucumber salad.  It was a standout at the old 1+1 and it's still excellent, with crunchy cucumber batons in a zingy, vinegar-based dressing that tingled with just a little chilli.

Panfried veg dumpling, $11

I'd spoken to the owner of 1+1 when researching the Footscray Food Secrets project, and she singled out her vegie dumplings as a signature dish.  The skins are made in-house, with their vibrant green colour coming from cooked spinach that's then squeezed to obtain the juice.  These were as beautiful inside as out, with a filling of shredded emerald spinach spiked with ginger and garlic.  Dunk 'em in black vinegar - just help yourself from the condiment and cutlery shelf.

Tufun lamb fried noodle, $13.50

We had fun choosing which noodles to try.  Each variety had such mellifluous names ("tufun", "dindin", "uyghun") and each had a different shape, from large squares to long skinny tubes.  This noodle stir-fry of tasty, tender lamb, veg, and al dente noodle squares might not be that much of a looker, but it tasted fantastic.


The walls at 1+1 are dotted with interesting ephemera from the region, from musical instruments that look like Greek bouzoukis to this piccie which, to me, really speaks to the Silk Road which runs through Xinjiang.  If you go to Dolan in the city, it's kind of a head trip to see Chinese characters on the menu and huge Turkish carpets on the walls!

Much as I admit I'm partial to the very occasional sneaky sweet n' sour pork, this is the western Chinese food I like best.  Highly recommended.

1+1 Mandarin Dumpling
84 Hopkins Street, Footscray
Phone: 9687 8988
Hours:  Thurs-Mon noon-10pm (closed Wednesdays)


  1. we visited 1+1 just before a recent 5 week food journey through China. They are as real as it gets. The cucumber is magnificent and I have never enjoyed a lamb kidney as much as the ones on their barbecue skewers. Awesome.

    1. Isn't it the best place? Actually, I went back the other day and tried the steamed pork dumplings - really great.

  2. Dear Lauren,

    Thank you for the food you showed us. We love the interesting words you have used in writing your blog post. It was cool and amazing and we loved the pictures of the food. Some of us have been to 1+1 Dumpling Restaurant and we thought the food was delicious.

    We are inspired by your blog. Do you have any advice for our blog and writing blog posts?

    12C and Madeleine

    1. Thank you, you guys! I'm so glad you are inspired by my blog. Here's some advice:

      1. To make your blog more visually appealing, try to break up big blocks of text with images. They don't always have to relate exactly to the text, but they make your blog easier to read. Maybe if you are writing about life cycles, you could find some colourful images on the internet of frogs and tadpoles.

      2. Try to stick to a regular posting schedule. When you first start a blog, it is very easier to get excited and "burn out". It is best to choose to blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, rather than ten posts one week, two the next and none the week after that. You might like to think about scheduling your blog posts.

      I hope that helps you make your blog even better!

  3. Bahhaha... Your friend's comments made me chortle. I love how Chinese food is so regional and can't stand it when people generalise the whole thing into one. Or worse, just generalise it all into "ASIAN". Jap/Korean/Chinese all the same to them? Pfffft... Anyway I really do love the sound of this place seems very humble yet authentic and true. Thx for sharing this Lauren!

    1. Pleasure! You're certainly right about the regionality and diversity, Winston. I really appreciate 1+1 being keen to explain Xinjiang food to non-natives, too.

  4. The noodles are fantastic at 1 + 1 Dumpling Noodles. Though my preference is to get the noodles and the topping separately so everything's not swimming around in sauce.

    1. Hey Joyce! I might know just the solution - there is a menu item at 1+1, Ja Chang noodles, which does see the noodles and the other goodies served separately!


I love getting your comments! They're what make blogging worthwhile. Unfortunately, the amount of spam I get is obscene and it is so tiresome to have to moderate every comment, so I have had to turn on annoying word verification. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but please know how much I love you having your say!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Related Posts with Thumbnails