Have you ever made dumplings? They are a pain in the neck. Good ones, anyway, require patience and dexterity – all that stuffing, dampening, folding, crimping, steaming, frying. Especially the crimping bit so the guts don’t fall out. I’m bad at it. Which is why I tend to let others make them for me. Lately, I’ve been letting the women at Dumpling Park do the work, and I recommend you do likewise. Their dumplings are delicious and the ‘park’ they’ve created is darling.
Bring cash, that’s all they take; bring a lawn chair (the bit of seating the ‘park’ provides fills up fast); and don’t try to come on a Saturday, they are open weekdays only. Wear a hat – there’s an umbrella but its shade is for the dumpling grill. Then make your way to Rochester Street, and when you get near the Morning Owl, head west along the driveway that runs just north of the coffeehouse. There, on a bright green carpet of artificial grass is parked a white trailer, with smart black trim and painted pressed tin for some glam, framed with flower boxes and potted herbs, and a perched owl, to remind you where you are. (And where you can go for a coffee and a cookie, post-dumpling.)
Dumpling Park is run by a couple of resourceful women (Krista O’Leary and Kellie Vu) who have a quirky flair for prettying things up.
Their dumplings come in two sizes. I made the mistake of ordering the smaller. Filled with pork and chives, they are fried up post steam, and served hot off the outdoor grill onto a waiting bowl of zucchini ‘noodles’, scallions and red cabbage, crowned with a daikon radish pinked in beet juice and drizzled with a soy-ginger broth. I also gave the ginger tofu bowl a try, with quinoa, kale, cucumber, crunchy lettuce, scallions, red cabbage and edamame. It looked better than it ate, as the flavour was a bit wan and the quinoa soggy. But for the dumplings, I’ll be back. The bigger size.
Find Dumpling Park on the asphalt behind 538 Rochester Street. Open Monday to Friday from 11AM til 2PM. Cash only. With taxes, $9 to $12.