Dumplings and cocktails – in the words of a wise little Mexican girl “porque no los dos?!” (cue a cheering family and a celebratory mariachi band). That’s why the clever folk at The Drunk Dumpling, Newtown’s newest dumpling joint, have made sure that if you feel like one, or the other, or both (always both) your options are on point.
In the moody, low lit space previously occupied by Luyu & Yum Yum, upstairs and away from the bustle of King St (cruise past Clem’s in the direction of Newtown Hotel), a holographic dancing panda greets you at the top of the stairs (because why not?). The fit out of the restaurant’s predecessor remains, but we don’t wonder why, it’s a gorgeous spot perfect for date nights or catching up with your crew.
Chef Wong Ka Lok, new to Sydney after stints in multi-Michelin-starred Hong Kong venues is at the helm and here to have a bit of fun Through the glassed-off open kitchen he peers out over the steam baskets to make sure the diners have smiles on their dials. And we’re certainly smiling. We pick a selection from the dumpling menu to start, all named after star signs of the zodiac. Highlights are the Sagittarius – the cutest and most delicious little hedgehog vegetarian bun we ever did see, and the Pisces – an ‘XXXL sized’ seafood xiao long bao accompanied by a straw to slurp away until it’s ready to be tackled by chopsticks.
Also on offer are generously sized entree, mains and a banquet menu so your group can enjoy the sparkly private dining area. Our mouths are still tingling from the fresh and firey Singapore chilli prawns. We regret not trying more mains, like the Mapo Tofu Hot Pot or the Pork Ribs, but we just got too dumpling-happy.
On the cocktail front it’s quite simple fare. This time it’s the Chinese Zodiac that gets naming rights – we try a Goat (a refreshing citrus-y gin number) and a Pig (a pink vodka concoction which brings us back to our glorious uni days). Both honest cocktails with a very fair price tag to match. There’s also a good selection of beer and wine if fruity cocktails ain’t yo thang.
Certainly a more upmarket dumpling experience than your average, the prices for both food and drink are reasonable and we hope it stays that way. Chef Wong Ka Lok is keen to offer menu items with a difference, so don’t be surprised to experience something new each time you pop by. The Drunk Dumpling wants to be known for dumplings and dishes with a difference, something only a chef with such experience can bring to the Sydney scene.
Case in point: our meal was topped off by an off-menu pillowy pink berry and marshmallow panna cotta-style sweet treat, served with the explanation “chef will make occasional secret desserts based on what he likes the look of, the fresh ingredients of the season.” Our mind boggles: how many chefs out there are making dishes off-menu just because you ask and because they felt like it?
So don’t forget to ask if there’s a secret dessert. If there’s anything we love more than a Sagittarius matched with a Goat, it’s a dessert no one knows about.
The Drunk Dumpling
Level 1, 196 King St Newtown
Open daily: 1-11pm