Shining a delicious light on one of the lesser known cuisines of China.
While competition for delicious, budget-friendly cuisine is fierce in Chinatown, new comer Nanjing Story rises to the challenge, bringing the tradition of Jiangsu cuisine of Nanjing to eager Melbourne diners. Delicious food that wont break the bank is the order of the day, and you’ll find familiar favourites like Xiao Long Bao on the menu, nestled alongside dishes for the more daring of palates such hot duck blood and vermicelli soup with fried tofu.
The capital of the Jiangsu province, Nanjing, was once the nation’s capital. Its cuisine is famed for its meticulous processes and inspired use of local, seasonal produce to create richly flavoured dishes that celebrate regional specialities. Duck, in particular, is the feather in the region’s culinary cap, and once you give Nanjing Story’s duck dishes a go, you’ll see why.
Tucked away in Little Bourke Street’s eastern leg, Nanjing Story has taken up residence among some of Melbourne’s most iconic Chinese restaurants, but the restaurant holds its own, dishing up fresh, high quality food that flies out the door, and keeps customers filing into the bustling two story space, filling the venue with the comforting din of happy dinners eating great food.
The intimate space is light and airy, thanks to the complete glass frontage that floods the venue with natural light in the day. The gorgeous pastoral mural stretches the length of the downstairs dining space, and honours the ancient traditions of Nanjing that inspired owner Vivian Yang to share her ancestral cuisine.bYang’s love for Nanjing’s cuisine is evident in the enthusiasm she brings to Nanjing Story. It was her warm memories of folding neat little dumplings with her family as a child that moved her to launch the venue, and that feeling of home cooked comfort is felt in every dish.
When it comes to the menu at Nanjing Story, you can expect the cast of usual characters – the steamed juicy beef xiao long bao is a favourite, while pork wanton soup basically walks itself out the door as quick as they can cook it – but you’ll also find unique dishes that aren’t your usual Chinatown fare. The braised bamboo shoots make for awesome snacking, flavourful and nutty, luxuriously tender and with just the slightest and most satisfying crunch they’re served up in the most gorgeous of traditional earthenware pots, and were gobbled up minutes after hitting our table. The preserved egg with tofu and dried meat floss is the can’t-stop-eating dish you’ve been looking for – the mild tofu is the perfect base for the salty preserved egg and the umami bomb that is the dried meat to showcase their explosive flavour.
Since duck is such an integral part of the Nanjing palate, it’s natural that Nanjing Story is the place to go to sample this delicacy. The Hot Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup may sound daunting, but we promise that any intrepid diners who slurp this soup will be rewarded with a rich and savoury broth with an herbal freshness that is incomparable. Completed with tofu, vermicelli noodles, as well as duck liver and gizzard, this is a dish that make use of the complete duck, honouring its role in the regions cuisine.
If you fancy duck but aren’t sure that you’re ready for the dive into blood soup, you’ll also find familiar duck dishes such as salted duck and Peking duck on the menu to get your fix.
The vibe of Nanjing Story is to mix and match dishes with friends to your own tastes, and at the price point offered, you can certainly afford to sample an array and – like any good family meal – you will not leave hungry!
Nanjing Story is open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch, then reopens for dinner from 5.30pm.