At the Finzels Reach Market I decided to add a pork belly bao bun from the Ah-Ma’s Dumplings stall to my lunch.
I have had their dumplings before and had enjoyed them. So I had quite high expectations about the bao bun.
However it was awful, dry and little or no flavour. I’ve had much better bao buns from other places, this was a real disappointment. Also the accompaniments were not very nice either, the cabbage was not very pleasant and the cucumber was just okay.
Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal.
Back in March 2017 I had visited the Temple Quay Street Food market in Bristol and had some great dumplings from Ah Ma’s Dumplings.
The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings.
My dumplings were then fried off in a pan. Alas the stall (at the time) fries the vegetarian dumplings in the same pan they fry off the meat ones. So if you are vegetarian you may want to have yours steamed and not fried off.
My dumplings were served with a delicious salad. I really enjoyed the dumplings.
I did think that I might miss the Temple Quay market this week because of the rain, however it stopped so off I went.
There were fewer stalls this week, and fewer regulars, but even so there was a great choice of food. I thought the rain might have put people off, but the queues were already really long. The queue for the Thai stall was already across the square!
I did start queing at the Scoff and Relish stall as the salad and grilled chicken sounded great and looked fantastic too, being chargrilled on they tiny portable barbecues. I also liked the idea of the accompaning scoff balls, savoury scones. Alas they were struggling with the demand and the queue wasn’t moving and the food wasn’t quite ready. Maybe next time…
In the end I went with Ah Ma’s Dumplings. There was a slow moving queue here too. The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings. There was no tiger prawn, scallop and leek (probably sold out) today, so the choice was pork and ginger, beef and spinach, chicken and coriander or vegetarian.
I went with the veggie shitake and cashew pan fried dumplings along with the pork belly with hoisin bao.
I was impressed and tempted with the dumpling pots complete with vegetables, noodles and broth, likewise the sides of Asian salads sounded very interesting. That day they had carrot & courgette ribbons with a tahini, honey, lemon dressing; the other choice was sweet chilli pickled cucumber with toasted black sesame seeds.
The dumplings were really impressive, beautiful steamed dough that because of the pan frying. Inside was a filling that was deep, tasty and even a little meaty, but they were vegetarian (well ‘ish they are pan fried in the same pan as the pork and chicken ones, so if you are vegetarian you might want to have them steamed instead).
The bao was delicious, the slow roasted pork belly was both sour and sweet, full of interesting deep flavours and very tender. The steamed dough made is substantive. I have seen neater and tidier bao buns before, but the flavour of the filling made up for this.
Ah Ma has a growing reputation, having been mentioned as one of the top sixteen street food stalls in the UK in both the Metro and Olive magazine. In my mind that is a well deserved reputation, delicious food, beautifully made and presented and lots of interesting choices of flavours and textures. I hope to visit them again.