Scanning the food court on Level 1 of Rhodes Shopping Centre, a tall stand of golden frames shaped over a vibrant blue background situates itself in front of the matching counter. In bold red writing and with two bamboo steamers, Lok Lok Dumpling Bar is written and sprawled across the frame.
Lok Lok Dumpling Bar, inside Rhodes Shopping Centre.
To the left of the sign, the main shop is decorated with the same intricate designs of the golden frame over the blue, with the inside covered in shiny, cream tiles. Above the menu pictures, bamboo steamers are stacked, one on top of another, adding decoration to capture the dumpling bar and ambience of this small shop. A glass window drifted over to the side gives customers an opportunity to peer into the kitchen, overlooking into more bamboo steamers and chefs in action as they prepare and cook fresh, homemade Chinese-style dumplings.
As a food court style restaurant, Lok Lok has the ability to deliver meals quickly without affecting the overall quality of their food. Unlike many other Asian food court style restaurants and bars, Lok Lokís meals are made to order. This means there is no self-service or buffet-style meals placed inside metal trays in front of you as you walk to the counter. Rather, youíre greeted by the staff and are handed a menu for you to gaze over as you decide what meal to order.
Collect your order at the front. Meals are made upon order.
Whether youíre stopping over for brunch, lunch or dinner, this dumpling bar has more than just dumplings served in bamboo steamers. There are rice meals, soups and fried noodles. You can also expect a range of options that are child-friendly or mild in spice. Each item on the menu is coded with a coloured dot, with these coloured dots indicating whether they are appropriate for brunch, lunch or dinner. Though all dishes are available throughout the day, the yellow, orange and red dots are simply recommendations to stand by Lok Lokís vision in bringing an authentic dumpling and Chinese cuisine experience to suit any time of the day.
Shanghai Mixed Chicken and Prawn Wonton Soup - very filling and generous with 12 wontons.
For a hearty, filling and flavoursome soup to indulge in during lunch or dinner, the Shanghai Mixed Chicken and Prawn Wonton Soup ($10.80) is filled with a generous amount of wonton dumplings, along with bok choy, broccoli and shallots. Inside this bowl floats 12 pieces of wontons, with the wrapper encasing this juicy chicken and prawn filling, sealed well to keep the flavours locked inside. The soup itself was also seasoned well, though I would have loved to have rice noodles in the soup as well for a full wonton-noodle experience; even if that meant having fewer wontons. The soup is large enough to share between two people.
Braised Diced Beef-Brisket Noodle Soup - this one with flat rice noodles.
Another flavoursome soup at Lok Lokís is the Braised Diced Beef-Brisket Noodle Soup ($9.80). This tender beef falls apart delicately as you pierce your fork inside and separate the pieces to fit inside your mouth. Combined with rice noodles, bok choy and a sprinkle of shallots and sesame seeds, this soy-based broth is balanced with the right amount of sweetness and saltiness.
Yangzhou Style Seafood Special Fried Rice with Prawn - needs a little something extra to make it more special.
If youíre not too fussy with your meal or in the mood for something familiar and simple, the Yangzhou Style Seafood Special Fried Rice with Prawn ($10.80) is a good rice dish choice. However, while the fried rice was filled with the expected slices of egg, carrots, peas, baby prawns and the addition of crab meat strips, it lacked that special fried rice aspect, and therefore was quite ordinary. No doubt this fried rice would satisfy the stomach and fill up any appetite due to its large serving; yet to be considered special, it would need a little more flavour and wow factor.
Steamed Pork and Prawn Shui Mai - very juicy and definitely delicious.
Of course, visiting a dumpling bar, it is almost customary to order a serving of those small, savoury treats, and the Steamed Pork and Prawn Shui Mai ($6.80 for five pieces) will surely please oneís taste buds. Itís incredibly succulent and juicy as the shui mai wrapper is carefully shaped to bind the pork mince, and hold the piece of prawn in the centre.
When youíre in the mood for fresh, handmade dumplings served in the same fast-paced manner as those in take-away shops and food courts; then take a minute and stop over at the Lok Lok Dumpling Bar. Not only will you be guaranteed quick service with your meal, youíll also be guaranteed dumplings that are handmade and fresh, encapsulating the authentic flavours of Chinese cuisine.
Where: Lok Lok Dumpling Bar Rhodes, Level 1 Food Court, Shop 73A, Rhodes Shopping Centre. Other locations in Hornsby, Castle Hill, Miranda, Parramatta, Warringah and Erina Fair.
Why: Fast service and good quality, fresh food for a food court restaurant. Dumplings are also very juicy.
Cost: Dumplings range from $5.80 - $10.80, Mains from $9.80 - $12.20
When: Rhodes location open from 10am - 9pm, 7 days.