Beijing Dumpling is a Chinese restaurant on Silk Street in Chinatown – it specialises in siu long bao which are dumplings with soup inside them, so that when you bite into the dumpling hot rich soup bursts out. All the dumplings are either boiled or steamed – there are no fried monstrosities here. The restaurant is fronted by a large window in which little Chinese ladies make the dumplings by hand for the amusement of passers-by. The interior is decked out like a sauna (a reference to steamed dumplings?!) with wood strips on all sides and wooden furnishings – it is pretty homely though, and a lot more congenial that the typical garishly furnished Chinatown restaurant.
Beyond the dumplings, the menu is pretty bog standard Chinese, with noodles, hot and sour soup, chow mein and lots of fried things. Before our dumplings we tackled a decent crispy fried duck – the meat was fresh and rich without any hints of cartilage or bone; the plum sauce was generic and probably came from a Chinese cash and carry, but the pancakes were beautifully light and taut.
Then to the dumplings: we opted for spicy pork without soup (so they didn’t come sitting in soup but still had soup inside). I really enjoyed these – the dumplings were firm and sticky, containing bursts of slightly vinegary pork stock and soft pork mince with just a hint of spice. A couple of the dumplings did not have soup in them and it must have leaked out because the dumpling had been haphazardly made – but otherwise a very pleasing dish.
Our final dish was a bit of a disaster – fried spicy aubergines which were coated with so much MSG that they gave me instant sweats, a mouth as dry as Will Self’s wit and a desire to glug four gallons of water. A dish to avoid at all costs (or at least ask for the non-MSG version). The service was pretty efficient and nicely topped off by a pontytailed maitre’d who, whilst being very friendly, was dressed like a triad and looked like he could easily snap you in two with a crafty karate chop. I wish anyone that chooses to complain to him all the luck in the world….