If the cook rolls out the dough just minutes after I place an order for Chinese dumplings, I’m sold.
The coriander and lamb dumplings at Dumpling Queen were squidgy little pockets of juicy lamb and coriander, tenderly sealed shut at one silky edge of the perimeter and bunched into a moist impressionable hump at the other.
Every pudgy crescent had the lovable imperfections of a handmade dumpling; a depression here, a bump there, its dough lips sealed into a soft but stern motherly smile that cautions the stuffing from tumbling out. I peered through the kitchen window as the ‘dumpling queen’ prepped the dough, staring greedily between threads of mango soaked in vinegar and tossed with a dangerous load of sliced chilies.
I’m back in International City. I’d never have believed it, but I think I’m actually starting to get an intuitive sense of how to reach places in the China Cluster. It’s not that some sort of urban planning logic has descended upon me. Rather, it’s like my once-messy room as a teenager – you just get accustomed to feeling your way around and instinctively knowing exactly where that pair of jeans is hiding under the mind-boggling mess.
Dumpling queen was next on my list of International City picks and made doubly worthy of a visit when Theresa vouched for their dumplings. With a grand total of 18 wooden chairs, Chinese girls puckering their lips during the cosmetic commercials running on a TV screen overhead, and the friendly server prancing between the kitchen and the tables in a dainty black tutu, I’ll say this place gets an A+ on eccentricity.
If you’re violently hungry, fussy about the order in which dishes arrive, and expect illuminating menu descriptions that tug at your stomach strings, steer clear of Dumpling Queen. This place is for those who are patient, who appreciate the concept of ‘slow food,’ and who can see the bright side of having the chef labour for a good twenty-five to thirty minutes over a plate of Indonesian fried rice – steeping it in a special sauce until it fully imbibes the flavours of soy and shrimp paste. When it arrives on your table after most of your meal is over, you have to be ready to enjoy the dish in isolation.
You have to be prepared to tumble through the warm earthiness of the rice, gluing the grains together with runny yolk and bits of white omelette, flecking them with a sauce that hints of peanuts, sugar and fermented soy paste, even ignoring them for a tantalizing second while you crunch through crisp prawn crackers and battered fish. I couldn’t imagine pairing this dish with anything else other than maybe, a very tentative maybe, crisp honey-sesame chicken. And that’s about it.
Dumpling queen has a neat list of stuffing permutations – lamb, beef, chicken and shrimp, some with carrots or coriander, others with onions or green chilli. But they have a menu beyond the dough that’s worth experimenting through until you can find the ones that make your chopsticks go wild. The silky tofu in oily meat broth was flavourful, but might not make it to my lunch list again. That’s a good thing because I have a whole host of other dishes from their menu that I’d like to try when I’m back.
There’s something about this place that works for me. Maybe it’s the understated vibe in an otherwise overstated city that I find refreshing. Refreshing enough where I’d be brave enough to venture out into that hairy scary maze which calls itself International City.
Location: China Cluster C-15. Check out my Google map for directions.
5 thoughts on “The Dumpling Queen.”
Like Dairy Queen but Asian :P
Lovely review and gorgeous photos!
do they serve pork? A dumpring is just not the same with pork. ;(
Sorry dubs5, no pork!
hi there thank you for your review. We discovered this place 4 years ago (we were lost in international city) and got hooked to their vegetable and chicken coriander dumplings. However, the old management has changed and the last time we went there was in 2013. We were disappointed with the speed of the service and the poor quality of ingredients (both my husband and I had indigestion for next one day).
Just wanted to know how is the quality now ? We still crave for these dumplings. thanks
Hi brin, thanks for leaving your thoughts! The management has changed, but I loved the clean and cozy environment when I went. Maybe it’s worth going back and giving them a try? Sometimes when the management changes or a new restaurant opens, it takes them at least 2-4 months to work the kinks out. Go back and see if they can help your cravings :)