Gong De Lin

I’d heard from my relatives that a new vegetarian restaurant had opened up in the CBD and that it was related to the famous Gong De Lin vegetarian restaurants that originate from Shanghai. Gong De Lin in Melbourne? This news made me very very happy. So naturally, Steph, my eating buddy from Beijing times, and I decided to check this place out asap. How would it fare against the (many) Chinese vegetarian places we’d been to in Beijing?

We ordered the Shanghai Cold Noodles (which theoretically serves 2).

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Here, the assortment of the condiments you need to mix your own plate of tasty cold noodles: soy sauce, vinegar, chilli oil, bean paste, sesame sauce, another sauce that we couldn’t identify, crushed peanuts, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a dark purple pickled vegetable that was kind of sweet. Unfortunately I made a rookie mistake and forgot to take a photo of the star of the show: the big plate of awesomely fresh and chewy hand pulled noodles. Seriously, the best plate of noodles I’d had in Melbourne in a really long time.

This dish was fantastic – cool and refreshing for a hot summer’s day, flavourful, and you could be as inventive as you wanted to with how to condiment-up your noodles. For me, the winning combination is a very liberal dose of vinegar, some soy sauce, more chilli oil, some cucumber, and a sprinkle of peanuts. Order this one!

Of course, being the “investigative” (read eyes bigger than our stomach) types that we are, we ordered another dish: the Mapo Tofu.

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Again, this was a really good dish – it was just spicy enough so you could taste it and there was also a hint of sweetness, which I think makes sense as Shanghainese food is typically sweeter than the bang-here’s-the-chilli! flavours you usually get in Sichuan food. I ended up using some of the noodles to soak up all the sauce. Delicious.

Oh, I found it quite hilarious that the dishes arrived to our level 3 dining area via an internal food lift contraption. Maybe the kitchen is on level 2?

Gong De Lin, I think I like you. I would like to see more of you.

Level 3, 264 Swanston Street (take the lifts immediately to the left once you step inside the entrance to Noodle King), Melbourne 3000

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