Written On Tea, in Hobart’s Sandy Bay is a popular dumpling house renowned for its peculiar service and dodgy layout. Upon telling a mate that we were heading down for dinner in a large group, he told a story of ordering grilled calamari with mixed veg and receiving four bits of rubbery mess on steamed rice with four sautéed onions crudely diced. Needless to say, notwithstanding the company, I wasn’t pumped.
I was however keen to compare the dumplings to North Hobart’s Midori. Midori crank out some pretttty sweet gyoza, a Japanese style dumpling, so they were going to be tough to beat. And they weren’t. Written On Tea did an ok job, just not outstanding.
Now that’s out of the way.
That all being said, Written On Tea do a number of things well, and for these reasons, are worth a look in.
1. They’re quite cheap and it’s easy to share, but it’s not forced upon you. Some places, such as Garagistes and Ethos, it is near impossible for those old school thinkers, who prefer their own meal and don’t wanna share it round, to be satisfied. At Written On, there’s something for everyone and it’s a great place for an introduction to Asian cuisine if you don’t wanna be pushed out of your comfort zone.
We shared two plates of pork dumplings (the first were definitely better having been fried a little more slowly), some steamed pork buns (kind of sloppy and not really worth it) and a chicken on the bone in a chilli and spud broth. The chicken was super tasty. Lots of spice and a fair bit of heat to warm things up. Lach chewed through one of the hot reds, and really paid the price. Certainly not for the faint-hearted.
2. The staff are a little odd at times, but clearly want to please and work really very hard. In hospitality, nothing beats the floor staff giving it a red hot go, even if they are a little bit shit. Maybe it’s just practise, or no clear boss.
3. It’s BYO with 3 buck corkage. For the ever present povo student, this is a massive plus. When you go out for dinner, nothing beats crackin’ a bottle of red and sharing it round. It’s a niche importantly filled in Hobart and particularly the Uni end of Sandy Bay.
And finally, it is busy. Like, always. I like a busy restaurant, with the hum of everyone chilling out at weeks end. Letting go and having a ball. That’s what dinner out should be. It should be fun. And fun it was.