Dumpling Darlings’ new outlet on Circular Road impresses with a fun range of dumplings paired with a selection of cocktails and natural wines.
Popular contemporary dumpling restaurant Dumpling Darlings on Amoy Street has spawned a second outlet on Circular Road in Boat Quay. It’s best known for its quirky, irreverent takes on traditional Asian dumplings, and its fare makes for a great pit stop before, or after, a heavy drinking session.
Sure, you can easily find any number of traditional Asian joints in the area that serves up dumplings. But Dumpling Darlings is far from conventional. Expect a range of yummy little wrapped packages that are both familiar and surprising. The Original is your typical Chinese jiaozi, while Spicy Sichuan dresses The Original in a tangy and spicy Szechuan sauce. Also familiar and comforting is the Veggie Mandu, a vegetarian take on Korean dumplings.
In less conventional territory is Smoked Duck. It sees the ingredients you’d recognise more in a Peking duck crepe wrap – duck, leek, and hoisin sauce – stuffed into a dumpling. More bizzare is the Prawn & Crab, which sounds bog standard until you bite into it. Its Southeast Asian flavours, with its chilli rempah and assam aioli, tug at local palates and heartstrings.
The winner of the most culturally confused of all dumplings though, is the Fried Pierogi. Pierogis, of course, hail from Central and Eastern Europe. But here it sees all manner of influences with its stuffing – smoked bacon, truffled potato, caramelised onions, and cheddar, and even sriracha. It’s also incredibly delicious.
If you can’t decide, the dumpling platter – a tasting menu of most of the dumplings they have – comes recommended.
And if you’re not quite into dumplings, Dumpling Darlings also has a number of noodle dishes to pick from. The XO Prawn Noodles, in particular, stood out for us with its riot of flavours and textures.
As for drinks, Dumpling Darlings surprisingly has a small yet well-considered list of four natural wines from France that are worth exploring.
We’d point you to their cocktails though. On paper, the Carrot Gin sounded like an overly-sweet juice drink, but it’s surprisingly fresh-tasting and refreshing. We enjoyed the very well-composed Apple Rye Whiskey too, the notes of the Michter’s Rye coming through well in this tall drink.
But we reserve our highest praise for Cherry Cognac, a twist on the Mata Hari. Wonderfully sublime and complex, this cocktail can sit right up there with signature pours from award-winning cocktail bars around town. Later we find out that the cocktails at Dumpling Darlings were conceptually created with the input from the folks at drinks consultancy Proof & Company.
We did not expect to like Dumpling Darlings as much as we did. It’s the kind of casual kind of spot you drop in with a couple of friends for a quick bite before hitting the bars. But you’re more likely than not to kick your feet back and continue chatting over a bottle of natural wine, and move on to cocktails.
And then call it a night.
Dumpling Darlings (Circular Road)
Address 86 Circular Road, Singapore 049438 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11.30am-3pm and 5.30-10.30pm on Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays
Tel (65) 8889 9973