Melbourne: Shanghai Village aka Vagina Palace
Get There: 112 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
If you come to Shanghai Village, aka Vagina Palace (the walls inside are pink, like a….. y’know) and pay more than $15 bucks for your meal, you’re doing it wrong. Stepping through the tiny front door in Chinatown is like entering heaven. Albeit a sticky, loud heaven where tables of drunk (and sometimes sober) humans shovel tiny parcels of dough into their mouth like there’s no tomorrow.
Don’t even think about trying to book a reservation, and make sure you turn up for a late or early dinner. This place is perpetually busy and rocking up to eat at peak time will mean standing in a line that snakes out the entrance while drinking your Cleanskin wine purchased from the bottle-o next door to pass the time.
While the staff are pretty shit and genuinely don’t give a fuck about customer service, this place has the most delicious dumplings in the world (bold claim, I went there) and is ridiculously cheap. They will also let you BYO pretty much anything you want as long as you can neck it by the time they bring your bill around.
If you are after leisurely chats over a bottle of pinot, choose another restaurant. However if you want fast service, cheap food and the option to BYO a bottle of spirits then this is the place for you. Whatever you do, don’t leave without ordering the crispy pumpkin pastry; it will change your life.
Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.