A brand new colourful and hip dumpling joint has opened in the heart of the Bradley Street foodie precinct at Westfield Woden. It joins Fenway Public House, The Bavarian, San Churro and Sushi Musa on the ground floor of the multi-storey car park that was transformed last year into Southsides’ own little eat-street.
From the outside, Dumpling Social already looks a little bit glitzier than your average dim sum restaurant. There is a dumpling window to peer through that gives a hint of the delicious morsels being prepared, and a large red neon sign giving nod to a modern Asian streetscape.
Inside is a youthful and cheerful vibe with the walls adorned with bright eclectic picture frames featuring quirky graphics. There are long clean lines of timber tables offering up a mix of seating choices, from communal tables to perching at the bar.
I arrive without a booking for a solo mid-week lunch and am quickly accommodated and shown to a table. Menus and water are promptly bought out and I am left to peruse the options. The one-page food menu offers up much more than just dumplings with a mix of modern Chinese dishes designed for sharing.
The menu is broken up into different sections, with small plates listing Wagyu Cheeseburger Spring Rolls and Nutella Bao among the selections available. There is also a range of Social Signature dishes offering up everything from a traditional sounding Crispy Peking Duck to Roasted Lamb.
The promise of dumplings is what I am here for, though. Done well, dumplings are quite simply good things in small packages. The little doughy parcels can deliver happiness and flavour all in one bite. I place my order in anticipation of dumpling nirvana.
Of the eight varieties available, I try three washed down with a Rose Green Tea.
First up is the Spicy Pork & Prawn Wonton. The 10 pieces arrive glistening floating in the signature spicy sauce. I am instructed by the staff to eat these with a spoon, ensuring I scoop up the sauce with the wonton. Their instructions and the dish are spot on and a delightful introduction to the abilities of the Dumpling Social kitchen.
Then a bamboo steamer hits the table bearing Xiao Long Bao, the acclaimed and highly addictive delicate pork dumplings with soup inside. These are smaller than I am used to and, unfortunately, my chopstick skills let me down as I manage to pierce the skin and release the soup before it hits my mouth. It is still good though dunked into the vinegar sauce and has me vowing to improve my skills and return for a second attempt.
Lastly, an intriguing radiant small bowl of Chicken & Curry Siu Mai arrives. These hearty morsels of chicken wrapped in wonton skin swimming in an aromatic curry soup leave me wanting to lick the plate clean. It is very spicy and an unusual flavour combination that I never knew I needed in my life but now crave daily. Given the proximity to where I live, I can see popping in for a quick lunch-time or dinner meal becoming a fun and deliciously contagious addition to my routine.
Dumpling Social is located on Bradley St, Woden and is open seven days a week from 11:00 am.