CBD Dumpling House has been open for absolutely ages now, its only a stones drop (literally) from work yet I’ve never dined in until now. I’ve had their chow mein take away one or two times and let me say, I was honestly shocked to say it’s actually my favourite in Canberra now, slightly beating the previous winner Happy’s. It might be obvious, but I only really get chow mein when I’m at work. The best part about it is CBD Dumpling House give you two boxes! One for the pan fried noodles and another with the chow mein sauce and meats so it’s pretty good value. Since I don’t eat dumplings all the time, I didn’t really have a go to place like most people do, so I figured, time to try out something new and head over to CBD Dumpling House.
I was a little nervous at first, Canberra folk sure love their Shanghai dumplings so the line for CBD Dumpling House is always out the door and along the side. Plus it was Saturday, no way was I getting a seat. Regardless, I tried my luck and head over just after 5.30PM and somehow they had seating! It seems like it gets super busy area the core dining times, I would say, unless you have a booking (if they take bookings) steer clear of this place between 6.30 – 8PM. It is not so bad if you have a small group of two to four people, they seem to have ample tables for that. Anything more and you’ll probably be waiting for ages.
Anyways, thats enough chit chat, time for Shanghai dumplings!
First up, the Xiao long bao ($9.80). These were actually really nice! The meat, the soup, the skin, it was all quite good here, and I honestly wasn’t expecting too much. The skin was nice and soft from the steaming that the xiao long baos underwent, they didn’t over do it leaving the skin soggy and gooey or leave them out long before serving it, which I find makes the skin go quite hard and unenjoyable. As you bite into the lovely soft but bitey skin, the hot soupy broth comes pouring out. Each bao had plenty of strong soup broth goodness in it. Inside the bao was a generous amount of minced pork mixture that was flavourful and warm. Each element of the bao was done right and the end result was some super tasty xiao long baos.
As a side note, we actually had half or so of the dumplings as really really good, and half as quite poor, with thick, dry skin and a small amount of meat inside. All in all I enjoyed it, but consistency is definitely something to consider when ordering this dish. Though, I still recommend it, as it was my favourite set of dumplings here!
Here is a shot of the xiao long bao with all its brothy goodness on the outside. For this shot, I bit a small hole in it before placing it into the bowl. As you can see, the broth is extremely dark in colour for soup, it looks and tastes more like a pure pork stock. I really enjoyed this soup, and it was one of the more stronger ones Ive ever had. Outside of how it tasted, it also helped to keep the pork mince on the inside from drying out. It’s like eating an Asian style super meaty spaghetti bolognese sauce!
Obviously you probably don’t want to eat your xiao long baos like this. With the soup all out in the bowl. Personally I normally pick up my xiao long baos and place it on a big soup spoon, I then take a small bite on the side and soup sip up the soup. Once I’ve had enough to ensure that the soup won’t pour everywhere when I move the spoon around, I’ll pop the whole xiao long bao in my mouth. This way, I don’t end up spilling and wasting any of the delicious soup and when you have the bao, there still should be just enough soup to still fully ensure your xiao long bao is delicious and moist.
We decided to grab some steamed and fried dumplings as well, first up the Tomato and egg steamed dumpling (14) ($9.80). These were actually pretty nice, even though the ingredients don’t seem like they’d make the best dumpling, I’ve never really seen anyone serve tomato and egg as a combination. Most dumpling places serve chives and eggs or mixed veggies for their vegetarian offerings. Here at CBD Dumpling House you get tomato and egg which is pretty cool. I guess it’s a bit like an omelette minus all the other stuff that you normally put into it. Nevertheless it was really tasty. The tomatoes were steamed to be quite soft. There was a bit of egg through each dumpling which seemed to be a cross between an omelette and scrambled egg but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter that much. There wasn’t much egg flavour to the dumplings but luckily the tomato wasn’t too sour or overwhelming, so all in all the egg and tomato worked together pretty well.
Here is an inside shot of the Tomato and egg steamed dumpling, as you can see there is a lot more tomato than egg. Surprising that here it worked really well since when I first saw it, I was actually a bit disappointed. The tomato had a slight tanginess to each with just enough to bring that lovely tomato flavour without overwhelming the whole dumpling. I know it sounds like a really weird combination but its totally worth a try if you’re one of those poor souls that don’t eat meat.
Onwards to something fried, Prawn and pumpkin pan fried dumplings ($11.80). Even though my heart tells me to enjoy steamed dumplings, my stomach usually wins out and pan fried dumplings always seem to find their way in front of me. Surely I’m not alone in this?! Anyway, these were really nice and had a surprising amount of prawn chunks in it, which gave some great seafood flavour. The pumpkin was mashed together and gave the dumplings a lovely sweetness to it, which kind of fit the seafood profile anyway, which is usually quite sweet as far as savoury goes. I enjoyed this and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who loves seafood and dumplings. To be honest, I think seafood tastes a bit better when it’s steamed, not pan fried, so if I had my time again, outside of doing a copious amount of sport bets, I’d have ordered this steamed.
Now for the classic, and my favourite, Pork pan fried dumplings ($10.80)! If you’ve never had pan fried pork before, then you probably don’t even need to read this and just need to rush out and get some. Something about pan frying and meat just goes together so damn well! These were easily my favourite of the day, and what can I say? I love the classics, just moist firm pork mince in a crispy dumpling shell, with a bit of chives for flavour. Really delicious and entirely savoury/salty. There’s a chance that these could’ve got a bit much if we didn’t have quite so much sweeter/vegetarian dishes to go with it, but sadly I guess I’m never going to find out.
All in all, I loved these.
Lastly, something that isn’t a dumpling, the Combination chow mein ($13.90). I’ve been to CBD dumpling house a few times now for just random lunches and the one thing that shocked me was quite how good the chow mein was here, it is, in my opinion, the best chow mein you can get in civic! One thing I love about this place is that if you get a chow mein, they actually give you one, it’s not one of those silly places where you have to pay extra to get actual egg noodles instead of that bag of “noodle chips” that so many other places seem to think passes for egg noodle these days. Outside of that, if you get takeaway (which I do all the time) they give you two containers, one full of sauce and meat and the other full of noodle. This keeps the noodle nice and crispy for the walk back to the office and is just amazing value!
Outside of all that money stuff, this is a really nice chow mein with all the flavours that you’d expect. Only slight issue I have is that I wish the sauce was a bit thicker, but all in all it’s a really minor quibble. You can see from the picture above that they’re really quite generous, and that’s all you can really ask for isn’t it?
CBD Dumpling House
Scotts Crossing, Canberra Civic
Monday – Sunday
11:30am to 3:00pm
Monday – Sunday
5:00pm – 10:00pm