The opening of Lotus Dumpling Bar has added a new atmosphere to Walsh Bay’s Hickson Road. Chinese characters are scrawled across raw brick and hanging copper lights loom over the dimly lit bar with mint-green stools on cobblestone floors. Lotus, a symbol in Buddhism that signifies purity and spiritual awakening, is where handmade dumplings and the modern wine bar meet.
Owner Michael Jiang has enlisted Led Emmett (formerly of Firefly Walsh Bay and Neutral Bay) to helm the venture. “Lotus is traditional Chinese meets modern Australian. [Jiang] wanted to offer traditional Chinese street food that was made to order,” says Emmett about the inspiration. “As in China where the carts have no freezers, Michael wanted the dumplings to be made fresh: fill, wrap and steamed to order.”
Heading up the kitchen is Chinese-born Lucy Luo who has been hand-making dumplings for 30 years. “Lucy previously oversaw the training of chefs at New Shanghai but decided that it was time for her to take a more active role,” says Emmett.
For a Chinese menu, it’s not extensive but features classics like duck pancakes, green beans with minced pork and steamed fish with ginger and shallots. But dumplings – steamed, blanched or pan-fried – are the standout. Served in sets of four, fillings include scallop and pork shumai, mixed mushroom dumplings and pan-fried pork buns. A colourful twist on the Shanghai classic xiao long bao is also on the menu, where wrappings are made with fruit and vegetable juices.
Lotus is also a bar, with an extensive wine list featuring drops from across the globe. “I’ve been focusing on my wine knowledge as it’s a new challenge to work with Chinese food,” says Emmett. “The wine list is more fruit driven and for a sweeter palate with new varieties from Austria and Spain.”
With some offbeat, unusual flavours set to grace the cocktail menu, we look forward to heading here in the warmer months for Asian-inspired cocktails such as coconut and pineapple margaritas.