Civic’s home of the endless dumpling

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THE name says it all about the cuisine dished up at Shanghai Dumpling on Childers Street, Civic.

This popular café offers an astonishing array of steamed buns, dumplings, dim sim, wontons and cakes, as well as noodle dishes, rice dishes and soups. An astonishing array – seafood, pork, beef, chicken and vegetarian served dozens of ways, all with authentic Shanghai flavours.

When you first walk in you can’t miss the tall sculpture of a colourful orange koi fish, widely referred to in China and Japan as “living jewels in the pond”.

Shanghai Dumpling... easy to be a little overwhelmed at the choice. Photos by Brent McDonald
Shanghai Dumpling… easy to be a little overwhelmed at the choice.
Shanghai Dumpling Café was opened in 2009 by Liu Min Zhu, who hails from Shanghai. Liu spends his time covered in flour making up to 1000 dumplings a day. He believes that in the best cafés, owners roll up their sleeves and stay hands on.

We sat on the gold and brown striped cloth chairs (comfy) and were immediately served a welcome pot of tea (complimentary), which we enjoyed while pouring over the extensive menu.

Shanghai Dumpling Café 031
Steamed vegetarian dumpling with peanut butter special sauce. Photos by Brent McDonald

It’s easy to be a little overwhelmed at the choice at Shanghai Dumpling Café, but that’s part of the experience. Chilli oil dumplings? Soya sauce yellow eel noodles? Would we complement that with a cold dish such as seaweed with fried nuts?

Some flavours are more mainstream at the café and some unchartered territory for many.

Our Sichuan spicy pork noodle dish ($12.50) was a massive serve and the intense flavours soul satisfying. Some of the “pork” pieces were more fat than meat, but we enjoyed the dish nonetheless.

We thought we’d be a bit daring and go for the steamed dumplings with peanut butter and chili sauce ($12.50). While the dozen or so dumplings were superb, the sauce didn’t suit our palettes – but, hey, you win some and you lose some. We certainly didn’t go wrong with our good old Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($13.50).

Shanghai Dumpling Café has high turnover. Prices are super reasonable and attractive to the many students living in the area. Indeed, several students popped in for a quick bite, pouring over textbooks while slurping soup and savouring dumplings. But it’s not just students who frequent this casual café. During the week it attracts a constant stream of office workers.

Our only concern related to cleanliness. Our teapot was dirty and had rust spots on the outside, and we returned our wine glasses because they needed a good scrub. The used serviettes on the floor beside our table, from previous customers, left us uncomfortable.

Shanghai Dumpling Café. Shop 2, 35 Childers Street. 6262 8884. Open seven days for dinner and six days for lunch (closed Saturday).

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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