Affectionately nicknamed “The Dick Dump”, this is where Mr. Self-Pollution and I go when we need a dumpling fix, but are too poor to go to Sydney for the weekend.
I was introduced to the wonders of xiaolongbao, also known as Shanghai dumplings or soup dumplings, by a Chinese colleague who took me to the justifiably famous Din Tai Fung in World Square. The perfect thin skin, the rich meaty soup, and the delicately garlicky//gingery pork filling were a revelation to me. I came back with the Mr. and he too became obsessed. Thanks to a Shanghaiese acquaintance, I was given two possibilities for XLB in Canberra. One of them, Bao’s Kitchen, was “sold out” of them when we went, which disappointed me. The other was the perpetually crowded Dick Dump.
Be warned, this place gets crowded and loud at dinnertime, which is why on our two most recent trips we’ve gone for midafternoon lunch. Still, the waitstaff is perpetually harried and absent, and a good deal of semaphore-signaling is required to get served.
That’s all right though, because in return for your patience, you get six of these.
The soup is a bit less pungent than Din Tai Fung, but richer and more plentiful. The skins are less delicate than the Platonic ideal, but truthfully I like them that way. The meat is a bit fattier but not gristly at all. I slurped mine down in short order, in order to make room for…
Pan fried dumplings. Oh my.
The Dick Dump makes their dumplings small, almost bite-sized. Medium-thick skins provide a bit of chew, but it isn’t that raw-dough feeling you get with lesser dumplings. The deep crunch of the pan-fried crust is satisfying in the extreme. I like the straightforward meatiness of the beef filling, but chicken corn and pork are also delicious if slightly more conventional.
I recommend it. In spite of the spotty service, I never leave there unsatisfied.