Once garnering a reputation as soggy battered meat parcels most commonly found in bain-maries at Chinese takeaway stores, dumplings are coming on in leaps and bounds in Sydney. No longer the little sister of lifeless spring rolls, dumplings are quickly gaining a reputation as one of our city’s most versatile, quick and tasty dining options. Here are some of Sydney’s best dumpling offerings:
Xiao Long Baos (soup dumplings)
Shanghai's most celebrated culinary offering comes in the form of a delicate dumpling stuffed with ground pork and a rich broth. In Shanghai, hole in the wall eateries are dedicated to steaming and stuffing the morsels of deliciousness and can be found on any given street, where locals line patiently for bamboo baskets full of soup dumplings.
Rookies eating Xiao Long Baos will be surprised at how the thin membrane of the dumpling holds soup without getting soggy or having the broth seep out of the knotted bun and experts will tell you that the secret to eating the soup dumpling is to break into its silky pastry with a bite and drain the dumpling's soup into the provided miniature ladle. The art is both slurping the soup and chowing down the flavoursome meat parcel. For the best Xiao Long Baos in Sydney, visit: Taste of Shanghai (264 Liverpool Road, Ashfield), Shanghai Night (275 Liverpool Road, Ashfield) or Din Tai Fung.
Pan Fried Buns
They are exactly what their name suggests: dumplings, fried to a crisp. Traditionally cooked on a large cask iron pan, the bottoms of the Pan Fried Buns are burnt brown and have that wonderfully sinful fried flavour. The meat filling is wrapped in a chewy but crispy dough, with the first bite bursting in a gingery juice and begging for a good dollop of chilli sauce to balance the dumpling's flavours. If fried snacks prove too indulgent, most Pan Fried Buns come with a side of curry broth, with thinly sliced flanks of beef and topped with cilantro to cleanse the palette. For the best Pan Fried Buns, visit: Sea Bay (72 Pitt Street, Sydney) or Wang Wang Silver Star (476 Anzac Parade, Kingsford).
Yum Cha Dumplings
By far the most popular cart in Yum Cha is the dumpling cart. You can spot the cart from across the room, making out the stacked bamboo baskets steaming their way around tables of hungry diners. There are two dumplings that you cannot miss: Siumai and Har Gao. The first is a delicate pork and shrimp parcel, gift-wrapped in a wonton wrapper and flecks of roe topping it. The second is a translucent, bonnet-shaped dumpling that has been stuffed with shrimp. Both dumplings have one thing in common: they are more-ish and delicious. For the best Yum Cha dumplings, visit: Zilver Restaurant (477 Pitt Street, Haymarket), East Ocean Restaurant (Level 1, 421-429 Sussex Street, Haymarket) or Golden Unicorn (2/193 Maroubra Road, Maroubra).
Gyozas combine elements of some our most favourite dumplings, including their fillings, which are bursting with a rich gingery juice and spiced ground pork like Xiao Long Ba. Their bottoms are burnt brown for extra crispness and their wrapping is silky and delicate, much like Siumai. For the best Gyozas, visit: Wagaya (1/78 Harbour Street, Haymarket) or Mizuya (614 George Street, Sydney).