On the outer edge of the Canberra Centre, there is a window where you can watch busy hands expertly twisting dumplings. This window belongs to the CBD Dumpling House and the hands flick and sculpt meat and pastry into dumplings so fast, it's mesmerising. The fingers seem to beckon you closer with every plump morsel added to the pile, ready to indulge the hungry diners of Canberra.
Once you tear your eyes away from the hypnotic rhythm of dumpling folding, the restaurant is ready to welcome you. The interior is sleek and modern and the space is cavernous. Cane light fixtures add a warm, cosy glow and the well-stocked bar suggests a good time is waiting. When we arrive around midday, it's empty but by the time we leave, there is barely a free table and the place is bustling.
While the menu offers a range of dishes, we decide to stick to the Dumpling page and try a few different kinds. The pan-fried mixed special dumplings arrive like plump little jewels and their fillings are delicious. The frying leaves a beautiful crunch on the bottom so the combination of texture and flavour are delicious. Next, the tomato and egg dumplings arrive, this time boiled instead of fried. They are made with fresh tomato and egg but for me, they are verging on bland and I end up bathing mine in a liberal dose of sauce to perk them up a little. My husband thinks I'm crazy and devours them, to him they are divine, so I guess this dish is a matter of personal taste. Last on our order are the BBQ pork buns which arrive pillowy and packed with flavour. There is a generous amount of delicious filling and these are easily my favourite dish of the day.
The food at CBD Dumpling House arrives fast and the service is friendly and efficient. The restaurant is spotlessly clean and the prices are very reasonable for the amount of dumplings per serve. As we exit, the hands are still performing their complex dance: twist, fill, fold, waiting to lure the next customers in to try their masterpieces.