Sometime last month, Dumpling Republic opened in the Wintergarden. After finding out that it had opened on level one, a number of us were wondering what had closed down to free up the space.
After taking a long hard look, we found it nestled in between Hanaichi and Wagamama. From memory there was nothing there previously?! Apparently they opened up more commercial area.
Upon entering, I could see a large glass window with many chefs busily making dumplings. Promising indeed. Being a self proclaimed dumpling connoisseur, I was ready to be blown away.
Being the first of my party to arrive, I was promptly seated and provided menus and an order form.
The setting was really nice, bright, clean and vibrant. They even had a number of signs on the walls illustrating the amount of detail and effort they put into every dumpling. I was quite surprised that the restaurant wasnt even half full at 12.30 (peak lunch time) on a Tuesday.
We placed our order on the order form and were provided table water.
The first thing that came was the slow poached beef. It was supposed to be served as an appetizing cold cut, but it was mildly warm when it came to us. The meat was tender, and the flavour was well infused.
After quite a significant wait (we did all need to rush back to work after all...), the steamed pork dumplings (xiao long bao) arrived. My excitement faded quite quickly after it was set down. I believe the dumplings might have been over cooked. The skin was mushy and gluggy, whilst the soup tasted quite watered down. The meat was quite gingery, but coarse and overcooked. Compared to places like New Shanghai, Taste Gallery and my all time favourite, Din Tai Fung, Dumpling Republic definitely has room for improvement
My next photo was blurred by the steam rising from the piping hot wagyu beef and onion dumplings
While I held great expectations for the steamed pork dumplings, I was uncertain what to expect from the Wagyu Beef Onion Dumplings. Again, it was a bit overcooked like the XLB, but it didn't have the soup and it was more chewy. I note that I couldn't really taste the onion either.
Each serving of dumplings comes with a small dish of ginger for patrons to make their own dumpling sauce combination, from the soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil available on each table.
The last to arrive for us was the pan fried chicken and leek. The base was mildly crispy, and the shape of the pan fried dumplings were rounder than the usual long ones you see in other places.
When leaving, I was particularly impressed by the owner's flexibility in accepting split bills per table. In the lunch hour rush, it is quite hard to find a sit down restaurant that doesnt enforce a one bill per table policy.
In summary Dumpling Republic has a lot of improvements to make, but it definitely has the potential to be something great.
Price Range: $15 - $25 per person