Just Open: ShanDong MaMa Mini, Melbourne CBD

ShanDong MaMa's pan-fried prawn dumplings.
ShanDong MaMa's pan-fried prawn dumplings. Photo: Eddie Jim

For the past two years tiny family-run dumpling house ShanDong MaMa has been winning hearts and minds with some of the freshest dumplings in the city, with ludicrously friendly service to match.

And two weeks ago they swung open doors to ShanDong MaMa Mini: an even tinier eatery in the raucous Centre Place alley.

Due to space restrictions they're serving a shorter menu of pan-fried dumplings (you need more space to do steamed dumplings well), but all your favourite fillings like the vegan zucchini mix and the light and moussey mackerel dumplings are represented, along with new snacks.

Lunch might start with a boiled egg, stained in a spider-web pattern from an in-shell soaking in tea and an anise-forward mix of spices. There are also fluffy bao, packed with pork belly, peanuts and coriander, and salty-sweet lotus chips.

Pretty soon, patrons will be able to take those flower-like discs of crunch with a craft beer, (their licence looks like it will come through in late November, if the powers that be come to the party).

For now, slake your thirst with house-made soy milk made from soaking black soy beans with pandan leaves and a little palm sugar - it's vaguely like Mexican rice drink horchata, and just as refreshing.

We'll be back when things are in full swing, but if patrons are smart, they'll get in while they can grab one of the handful of seats.

Open daily 11am-8pm.

ShanDong MaMa Mini, Shop 5 Centre Place, Melbourne.