It was because I stood mesmerised outside watching, through an expansive glass window, a large kitchen team busily making dumplings.
They were so quick, which is not surprising given that the Chinese are masters in the art, and each round or crescent-shaped dumpling was a parcel of perfection.Located at Scott’s Crossing in the Canberra Centre, the CBD Dumpling House is a treasure of a place to enjoy dumplings… and enjoy we did.
There is no set rule on how to make dumpling fillings. The possibilities are endless and can include vegetables, meat or seafood, with regional parts of China celebrated in the mixtures. Whatever the fillings, wrapping skill is needed to make the dumplings look attractive. We do, after all, feast first with our eyes.
The menu is extensive but not expensive. The dumpling section showcases many types you’d expect – freshly made pork buns, shallot cakes, boiled dumplings, pan-fried dumplings and more.
We were in for a light lunch and so shared a selection of boiled pork, chicken and vegetable dumplings ($11.80 for 14 pieces). The mixtures weren’t spicy, but we perked matters up by happily dunking the little darlings in salty soy sauce and chopped, fresh chilli.
Next up were Shanghai pork dumplings created with a secret concoction of healthy, spicy ingredients ($9.80 for six pieces). Chefs are highly protective of their Shanghai dumpling recipes, each one wanting to offer up a special experience for diners. These did not disappoint.
Do not fear if dumplings are not your thing. The CBD Dumpling House has a wide range of beef, chicken, pork, duck and lamb dishes. The seafood section, a highlight of the menu, includes scallops with XO sauce (another guarded chef secret, no doubt – $21.80), Singapore crispy fish fillet ($14.80), special red curry prawns ($19.80) and a crispy sweet and sour fish dish ($14.80).
Hot pots (15 types) are a specialty (ranging from $13.80 to $23.80) as are rice dishes and noodles, noodles, noodles.
The restaurant is a large space with ceiling-to-floor windows, wonderful timber finishes and beautiful ceiling lamps. The design is contemporary and I love the bright, airy feeling. Staff are friendly, but service levels varied on our visit – sometimes too quick off the mark and sometimes too slow. We weren’t all that fussed. The dumplings kept us mesmerised.
Shop FG, 13C Canberra Centre, open seven days for lunch and dinner. BYO, $6 a bottle.