Mama Mulan

Jackie McMillan
31st Mar 2024

Hovering above The Concourse, Mama Mulan is a contemporary Chinese restaurant dishing up yum cha to the masses, 180-odd at a time. The lime-washed concrete walls and angular lighting with exposed Edison bulbs (the work of DS17) are on-trend for when it opened back in 2018. The concrete bunker aesthetic is softened by wrap-around dark green banquettes and pale blonde table settings. Being the base of a small tower planted on a plinth, natural light seeps in from three sides. Mama Mulan is too cool for roving trolleys but marble lazy Suzans keep the Cantonese through-line. Servers are a tad more sophisticated, but at least with the trolley dragon ladies it was never too much trouble to get your rice noodle rolls cut in half for ease of sharing. Here when prawn rice noodle rolls ($15/3) and BBQ pork rice rolls ($13/3) arrive as trios for a table of nine hungry people, we’re told: they’re soft, cut them with your spoon. 

Prawn potsticker dumplings ($17/6) are excellent exemplars with diaphanous crisp skins that partially reveal firm-fleshed crustaceans. The steamed version, har gow rebadged as Mulan prawn dumplings ($15/5), are equally good. Pork and prawn shumai ($13.50/4) are corn-topped mouth-poppers, with the gossamer thin wrappings continuing through pyramids of mushrooms and vegetables ($12.50/4) and plump purses of prawn and chives ($13.50/4). Mama Mulan are fond of updates. Some—like steamed BBQ pork buns ($12/3) with pops of diced pineapple—eat well, while others may have you pining for the original. Replacing the usual pork and shrimp mix in a ham sui gok with chicken makes the deep fried chicken puff ($11.50/3) taste unbalanced: without the saltiness the glutinous rice is way too sweet. An additional flavour spike works in the red-tinged steamed pork ribs with garlic and taro ($13.50). 

Wrapping rice noodle around a crisp vegetable spring roll ($14/3) was a textural winner; though deep-fried shallot pancakes ($11/3) lost the pliable pleasure of this dish. Mango pancakes ($11.50/2) were a bitter disappointment arriving lashed with chocolate topping that did nothing for their flavour. With food oscillating between good and average, it’s hard to justify the higher spend - we paid about fifty bucks apiece - over other yum cha venues in the area. Keep an eye on the bill: we didn’t order pork and cabbage potsticker dumplings ($14.50) so sent them back to the kitchen but were billed for them.