The first time I went to Beijing Dumpling there were no dumplings available that day. I am a little dumpling obsessed and I left disappointed wondering how a dumpling restaurant could have none. It was early days and there must have been some teething problems. My subsequent visits have been a lot more successful, and filled with them.
On Lisle St in Chinatown, you will first notice Beijing Dumpling when you see the chefs making dumplings fresh in the window. Small careful xiao long bao filled with a flick and finished with a gentle twist. Chefs work from a large lump of dough and a bowl of meat and produce stacks of bamboo baskets filled with dumplings ready for steaming.
The menu is large with lots of Cantonese dishes and hot pot. I have heard that the beef ho fun is very good, but I always max out on the dumplings getting a mix of Xiao Long Bao and the Seafood Supreme Dumpling, always with a pot of tea. The Xiao Long Bao are small and come in four flavours: pork, spicy pork, chicken and pork & crab. All are £6 for 8 except the crab meat which is £7.
I go with spicy pork, which are very gently spiced and as I like a kick, I prepare a dipping sauce of approximately 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part black vinegar and about a teaspoon of chilli oil, all of which are on the table. These little plump dumplings never burst, nevertheless I take great care as a burst XLB fills me with sadness and longing.
The Seafood Supreme Dumpling arrives with great ceremony in its own tray in a little steamer and a joyful orange pop of roe on top. How to eat it? I had no clue. This is a large delicate wobbly dumpling. I asked and was told to remove the tray, and then on reflection they went and got me extra napkins. Which filled me with confidence in the task ahead. I carefully removed the tray and placed the dumpling on the spoon, very carefully (it was far too big for it). Then I bit the side and sucked out some of the broth. Gorgeous and light and very fresh. A treat.
Spicy Chicken Dumplings in soup are large and unwieldy. Again, the spicing is gentle and the broth is light. These don’t have the same impact as the XLB, but they are pleasant, and good for a dark day or a cold one. A plate of wok fried choi sum (£8.50) on the side adds a little brightness to the meal.
Dumpling comfort and joy. Cosy & affordable. I heartily recommend that you check it out.
Beijing Dumpling, 23 Lisle St, Chinatown, London WC2H 7BA
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