Dumpling King is a busy dumpling bar located in the heart of Adelaide's Chinatown. Very popular with student and office worker types, we had to wait for a few minutes for a table just before midday even when most of Adelaide was still on Christmas leave. It has a moderate sized inside dining area and a number of outside tables which would be fun to sit out when the weather was suitable.
I love a really good dumpling bar, one with lots of noise and movement, with good, cheap dumplings and noodles flying out of the kitchen. Dumpling King makes the grade on the noise and movement front, the prices were reasonable and staff friendly (my experience is that dumpling bar service is often at best brusque, at worst outright rude). However, the food is mediocre and service isn't as fast as at most dumpling bars I've been to.
Best of the dumplings were the steamed chicken and prawn. These were the ones that friends recommended we try and while the skin was slightly 'gluggy' the filling was sweet. Chicken and prawn dumplings are one of my favourites and these were good, stick to your ribs type food.
Also fairly respectable were the steamed shanghai pork mini buns. Again, reasonable meaty filling with slightly gluggy skin but tasty and filling.
On the other hand the fried rice cakes were below average. These avoided the trap of being overly oily but were very bland in flavour and without that slippery texture which I like. I also like the rice cakes when they are slightly chewy in the middle but suspect these were slightly overcooked as they were very soft. Not something I would order here again.
But clearly the worst dish of the day was the fried pork dumplings.These took a lot longer than the other food to come out and looked fine when they hit the table. However when we started eating them it became clear that most of the filling was vegetable and not pork. Also, while the dumplings didn't look particularly oily they left a pretty large pool of oil on the plate afterwards. Not the worst fried dumplings I've had but not up to standard either. On just the one visit it's impossible to know if these were typical or just a bad bunch, but a disappointing example of a type of dumpling I normally like.
On the plus side Dumpling King has prices that are consistent with most dumpling bars, the staff were friendly enough and it does have some of that slightly chaotic feel that I love. On the negative side, we only ordered four dishes and I would have failed two of them, a pretty high strike rate even if they weren't disastrous fails. Given that this seems to be the premium dumpling bar to visit in Adelaide I'd have hoped for something better.
Food - 6.5
Ambience - 7
Service - 6
Price - 7.5
Shop 4-5, 85 Grote Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Tel: (08) 8212 1886