Dumpling Shack, at the Old Spitalfields Market, serves a Chinese street-food menu of dumplings and noodles. It is a small stall with room for about three employees to rapid fire serve dumplings to the throngs who lunch at the Market. Everything is served to-go, in small cardboard bowls and you have to compete for a seat at the long shared tables around the Kitchen area of the market. The stall’s owner launched Dumpling Shack as a weekend hobby while he was working at a bank and in the years since Dumpling Shack has won several “best of “ awards (here, here, here) and gotten raves for its Shanghai style Sheng Jian Bao.
The Dumplings: Dumpling Shack serves Pork and Leek Pan Fried Soup Dumplings, Prawn Wontons in Chilli Oil, Boiled Vegan Dumplings in Soy Garlic Dressing and Tianjin Prawn Wonton Soup. Dumpling Shack is renowned for its Shanghai Sheng Jian Bao, listed on the menu as Pork and Leek Pan Fried Soup Dumplings, but I think the Boiled Vegan Dumplings in Soy Garlic Dressing deserve much more media attention than they have been getting. The vegan dumplings were really flavorful and filled with vermicelli glass noodles, celery, carrot, shiitake mushroom and tofu and the chopped celery gave these dumplings a really nice crunch texture. Combined with the tasty soy and garlic dressing this is an excellent plate of dumplings.
I of course tried their famous Sheng Jian Bao, which were as excellent as everyone else has described online. Dumpling Shack pan fries these buns knot side down which is a little unusual, but provides more dough surface area to be crispy fried. They make their buns with lots of soup and an exceptionally flavorful and savory pork filling. One issue I had with Dumpling Shack is that they didn’t have soup spoons, which, similar to when eating soup dumplings, are really needed for the optimal eating of Sheng Jian Bao.
The Location: Dumpling Shack is in the Kitchen section of Old Spitalfields Market, which is a cluster of stalls selling international street food. To get to Spitalfields Market, take the tube to Liverpool station and walk a few blocks east along Brushfield street.