Like many children of parents in the hospitality world, Suby Liu had no intention of following in her father’s footsteps after witnessing the toll of his culinary career.

“I’ve tried my best not to deal with food since I was young,” she tells Broadsheet. “It’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice.”

So it’s an unlikely turn of events that she eventually returned to her familial roots, leaving her architecture career behind to open a restaurant, Heartling, in Docklands late last year.

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Seeking better work-life balance than the demands of hospitality would usually allow, Liu landed on a 10-seat diner pairing her passion for health and nutrition with her father’s signature – dumplings.

“This is one of the main dishes my dad’s been making for over 50 years,” she says. “He can do it with his eyes closed.”

Liu’s take is a bit different, though. While her dad pumps out thousands of dumplings each day, her delicate, sculpture-like, multicoloured parcels – clearly the work of an architect – are made slowly in small batches.

“I’m really interested in wellbeing, so meditation is a big part of my practice,” says Liu. “The whole concept is about slow food and slow dining.”

The dumplings, which vaguely resemble a heart shape, are filled with seafood or vegetables, each paired with its own colour-coded sauce to match the wrapper. The vibrant green jackfruit rendition, for instance, comes with a green tahini dressing, while the yellow and black lobster dumpling is paired with a miso peanut butter sauce.

For dessert, there’s a small range of heart-shaped truffles – all house-made, vegan and free of refined sugar. And to drink, a selection of tea and sake. Everything is served from black platters, mirroring Liu’s minimal, monochrome fit-out.

“I had the privilege to design everything myself,” she says. The walls are backlit and mostly bare except for script that reads “Slow Dining”, reminding guests of Liu’s mindful ethos. And there’s just one communal dining table that can also be booked for private groups of six to 10 people.

Heartling
32 Tom Thumb Lane, Docklands
0414 329 327

Hours:
Tue to Sat 6pm–9pm

heartling.com.au
@heartling.melb