The Dumpling House is an unassuming little establishment on the main drag of Chinatown in Toronto on Spadina Avenue. In the restaurant-front window, there are always 3 or 4 men and women making the dumplings: one manning the stove, another mixing the different fillings, and another one or two kneading the dough and rolling out perfectly circular dumpling skins. It’s probably for this reason that from the first time I walked past The Dumpling House, I’ve wanted to go in. There’s nothing like seeing what you’re going to eat made fresh before your eyes… and I suppose it helps that I love dumplings.
Recently, my fiancé and I paid The Dumpling House a visit. I was immediately surprised by how clean and vibrant the interior was. The service was also fantastic. Within seconds, we were seated with menus and steaming tea before us. Being newbies with empty stomachs, we naively ordered two steaming hot bowls of hot and sour soup (as you may know, an old favorite of mine) as well as two plates of dumplings – one pan fried, and the other steamed. Being in an adventuresome mood, we opted for 3 different types of dumplings for each plate (pork and chive, lamb meat, seafood, minced beef, mushroom and vegetables, and I believe the shrimp & pork).
When the food arrived, we realized how large the portions actually were and that we hadn’t needed to get so much! Each bowl of hot and sour soup was a large Chinese style bowl that had probably enough soup in it for one serving for two to three people. As for the dumplings, well, you can see in the picture to the left and below – they were plentiful as well. Although it was clearly outlined on the menu how many dumplings we would be getting, we let our hunger get the better of us and foolishly ignored the caption “15 pieces” under the steamed dumpling options and “12 pieces” under the pan-fried variations. If you plan to go – this is something to be aware of. Each dumpling may not seem like a lot, but they’re incredibly filling. We devoured fifteen dumplings between us at amazing speed, but were starting to struggle by the time we needed to finish the second half.
That said, the dumplings were delicious. Flavourful and steaming hot – they were just what we needed on a cold day. Amongst all the different types we tried, our favourite by far was the pork and chive variation. The chive gave it that extra punch and flavour that complimented the pork beautifully.
Apart from the flavour, there was something delightful about the pan-friend dumplings that come in one large circular “sheet”. Cracking through the skin to break the dumplings apart was a sensation not unlike cracking through the crispy golden sugar layer of a crême brulée. In a phrase: wonderfully satisfying.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Dumpling House. Not only is it captivating to watch the chefs expertly roll out the dumpling skins and pinch them into perfect bite-size delights with fascinating speed, but the dumplings were outstanding. The hot and sour soup was not my favourite, but I tend to be a little particular about my hot and sour soup.
If you want to go to The Dumpling House, they are located at 328 Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto. Reservations are not required, but if you’d like to call in advance, their phone number is 416 596 8898. They are open every day from 11am to 11pm.