There’s not much in the way of frills or décor at Lian Rong, but the florescent lighting and basic outfitting of this unassuming little place on Monivong provide cover for a dining spot where you may find more than you bargained for.
For a price that’s probably less than you bargained for.
It’s tucked away on the north end Monivong (almost at the intersection of Street 154) with stark white tiled floor, gaudy cerise tablecloths covered with a glass tops and grubby walls that look as though they haven’t seen a paintbrush since the turn of the century.
But the food is smashing.
As you might guess, Lian Rong is famous for dumplings (shui jiao in Chinese). Dumplings stuffed with meat. Veggie dumplings. Dumplings filled with seafood. And celery. Steamed or fried. Lots of them.
They come in portions of 12, served steaming hot on a plate with an aroma that wafts across the restaurant, inviting you to pounce onto them before they even hit the table. They are tasty and flavorsome, packed full of ingredients and easy to devour.
On our first visit, we went with three other people and somehow managed to order six plates of dumplings (along with other dishes). That’s 72 dumplings between five people.
At the end of the meal, there were only six left. Yes, we were totally stuffed and we’ve now given our friend, Dom, a new name. He is now “Dompling” because he told us later that the tuktuk driving him home broke an axle on the ride!
The other dishes we ordered included an incredible Fried Eggplant with Garlic, which is one of those dishes we plan to order every time. It’s a veritable delight to the senses and, at $2 for a dish, makes a very cheap meal in itself, especially if you get a bowl of rice to pad it out.
Since we felt a need to add some veggies to the mix, we ordered the Fried Kale with Oyster Sauce (also delicious) and a plate of Cabbage with Garlic (fresh tasting and reasonably good but not our favourite).
As to be expected (it is an Asian restaurant after all), there’s a selection of dishes with slightly dubious names. Such as Seafood and Intestine Soup, Pork Intestine in Claypot and Fried Pork Kidney with Chile (“chilly”). And there’s that inevitable fishtank behind the front door with a few very sad-looking fish gaping from within.
Everything on the menu at Lian Rong is easily affordable, even to those living on a shoestring budget. Plates of dumplings are $1.50 (or $2 for the seafood and meat ones), the delicious Spring Onion Pancake is $1, Noodles with Sesame Sauce is $1.50, Celery with Cashews is $3, Garlic Eel is $5 and Special Frog in Clay Pot is the most costly dish at $6.
While it may not be the most glamourous spot in town, Lian Rong Dumpling Hall gets my vote for a delicious meal bursting with flavour any time!