The Dumpling Queen.


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.

Lamb and coriander dumplings - Dumpling Queen - International City - Dubai

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.

Mango salad - dumpling queen - International City - Dubai

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.

Dumpling Queen - International City - Dubai
Alex grilling the server on the menu plastered up on the wall.

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.

Indonesian Fried Rice - Dumpling Queen - International City - Dubai

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.

Tofu in meat broth, mango salad - Dumpling Queen - International City - Dubai

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.

Lamb and coriander Dumplings - Dumpling Queen - International City - Dubai

Dumpling Queen
Phone: 04-367-4558
Location: China Cluster C-15. Check out my Google map for directions.

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

5 thoughts on “The Dumpling Queen.

  1. dubs5 says:

    do they serve pork? A dumpring is just not the same with pork. ;(

  2. brin says:

    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

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      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 :)

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