Dumplings! Dumplings a mere five minute drive from my house! These words are music to my ears. Shanghai Dumpling King has opened in Erindale – as far as I know the first dumpling joint in Tuggeranong. Exciting times. I believe it opened on Monday night (I’ve heard mixed reports), and we headed there last night (Thursday) after work to check it out.
The laid-back restaurant and take-away is located in the newer area of the Erindale Food Mecca – next to Schnitzel Haus and La Piazza (or if you haven’t been for a while, the space that was formerly occupied by The Garden). There is a front counter, where you can order your take away, and about 7 or 8 tables off to the side. The space is open and minimalist, with lots of grey and black – it’s a very informal feel. Which suits us fine for a quick feed on a weeknight.
We arrived about 6pm to a pre-booked table, but I suspect they don’t make a habit of table bookings – everyone else has just wandered in. The menu is a mix of dumplings, yum cha type dishes, noodles and meat/rice dishes. I must admit that the way the front counter is set up with a big neon menu above it, reminds me of a food court.
We ordered three types of dumplings and share them all. The Xiao Long Bao Dumplings are first up.
The dumplings are a good size to shove in your mouth (or rest on the spoon and still contain the soup) – I’ve had Xiao Long Bao too big and it’s gone everywhere! The soup is salty and savoury and is not too oily (a common issue with Xiao Long Bao I find). I believe the meat filling was pork, but I can’t actually remember.
Next we had the pan fried pork dumplings.
These were a little overcooked on one side, and where a little dry – but nothing my chilli/soy/vinegar dipping sauce couldn’t hide. The pork filling was quite small, but had a good taste. Shanghai Dumpling King seems to use quite thick wrapper for their dumplings, so there’s a chewy (yet inexplicably dry) nature to their dumplings.
We were intrigued by the boiled chicken dumplings with peanut butter sauce, so naturally we had to have a go.
Must admit this is not what I was expecting. I had expected a satay like sauce, but instead it is accompanied by a soy based sauce with shallots and coriander. One of my dining companions could taste the peanuts, but I really couldn’t. Even if there was not a particularly peanutty flavour, it was still really nice and it made me wish we’d gotten this dish first, so we could have used the sauce with our other dumplings. I can’t even remember the taste of the chicken part of the dumplings, it was pretty bland (ie, just chicken). I found the boiled version of the dumplings made the thicker wrapper even chewier too.
The service at Shanghai Dumpling King was quite lovely, all very friendly and polite. They were efficient and knew when to approach and when to leave you alone.
While it’s very exciting to have a dumpling place in Tuggers, I wasn’t blown away. This may be because we stuck to dumplings only, and dumplings are pretty hard to muck up. I will endeavour to return and try some of their other menu items (particularly interested in the “pork bellies”).
The good thing about Shanghai Dumpling House is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. The food is okay and the dining area feels like a take-away restaurant. I will keep dreaming for a Dickson Dumpling House franchise to come out this way, but for now it’s great to have dumplings – which I get a hankering for quite often – close to home.