07 May 2012

{review} the dumpling house

The Dumpling House - Review

The Dumpling House - Review

The photo above on the left should give you a peek into Vicky Ha - self-confessed 'Dumpling Queen' and face, talent and passion behind Wellington's latest culinary craze, dumplings from The Dumpling House. I say 'craze' because it seems like anyone who has tried these dumplings have raved about them on Twitter, Facebook, to each other...the word is spreading quickly!

See how each free range ingredient has a big fat tick, see how 'NO' MSG/Artificial Stuff is underlined, 'handmade' is in CAPS and underlined, and so is the fact (with asterisk!) that you'll get to choose from 4 different types of dumplings (unlike the dumplings at yum cha which all feature prawns, pork, prawns and more pork).  For me, that's Vicky to a tee - passion, energy and an unwavering conviction on what she believes in when it comes to food quality and the dumplings she makes.

The Dumpling House - Review
When I invited Vicky for coffee and a chat to talk about her new dumpling business, I had a few questions in my head that I had ready for her.  But I really didn't need to ask many questions at all.  Vicky was so damn passionate about her craft, her dumplings and her principles that I just sat there transfixed.  I did have to end up asking a few questions towards the end because I was too busy listening instead of taking notes!

As much as she knew at a relatively young age that what she really wanted to do was cook, Vicky being the dutiful Chinese daughter (Vicky is originally from Hong Kong), went to Dunedin and studied food sciences and marketing.  God forbid that she'd actually cooked for a living since apparently that's not a professional career - you have to be Asian to understand this...no really, you do.  I am and I do!

So what does one do with a degree in food science and marketing?  Well here's what Vicky did - she started a marketing company and then was the brainchild behind BAXI (pedicabs around Wellington) before selling the business.  Then she put herself through chef school at a local polytech.

And what does Vicky do now that she is a classically trained chef?  Why work as a cook on a prawn trawler of course!  Yep, no typos here - a prawn trawler, where she helped with sorting prawns as they got hauled in and cooked for the boys on board for 3 months.  Oh the stories she could tell from those 3 months...apparently the boys on the trawler complained about her cooking, calling her made-from-scratch gravy 'gay-vy' and snorted at her eggs bene.  All they wanted was meat and more meat!  Soon Vicky was back on shore (after threats of mutiny due to having to eat gay-vy maybe?) and spent the next couple of years at a popular local cafe as a larder chef.

Fast forward to present day and Vicky is now a chef with the Compass Group and also churns out trays of delicious dumplings on the side, for the good people of Wellington.

The Dumpling House - Review
The first time I heard about The Dumpling House, it was from a tweet sent out by The City Market one early April afternoon.  The name itself got me excited - afterall, why should Aucklanders be the only people in this country to have access to dumplings galore?  We may be spoilt for choice in Wellington when it comes to cafes and amazing coffee, but we are definitely sorely in need of noodle bars and dumpling houses.  I got down to market that Sunday at a respectable 10.30am to find that they had sold out!  So I made sure I was down early the next week to ensure I got my share of dumplings and to snap some photos before the market got crowded.

I wasn't disappointed.  I inhaled my first dozen right there at the market and bought some home for lunch, which I shared with 'S' grudgingly.

The Dumpling House - Review
Is there anyone more passionate about making good dumplings? I think not.

The dumplings from The Dumpling House aren't like the usual fare you get at yum cha.  Instead, you get dumplings that are from different cities/regions of China and elsewhere in the world (like Nepal and Korea), and vegetarian options as well.  Vicky made it a point to explain that respect for the origins of the different dumplings she produces is paramount - ingredients, flavours and production methods are kept as authentic as possible.  

The Dumpling House - Review
Browning up some dumpling to-go at the City Market

The dumplings are all handmade with the freshest ingredients and everything is made from scratch, from the stock to the dumpling skins.  Eggs are free-range and so is any pork and chicken used.  And very importantly, no MSG, stock powder or artificial flavouring is used.

The Dumpling House - Review
Choose from 3 dipping sauces when you buy your dumplings at The City Market.

When asked what her point of difference was, Vicky did not hesitate to list them in quick succession:
  • The Dumpling House is solely dedicated to the production and perfection of dumplings 
  • Her dumplings are made from scratch
  • They're all made with natural ingredients, with no preservatives or MSG
And when asked what her principle(s) was in running this business, Vicky was quick with that answer as well - to provide honest food.

The Dumpling House - Review
The crowd grows...and has been growing rapidly for these dumplings.

Judging from the increased online chatter and mentions on Twitter and Facebook, and how quickly the dumplings get sold out every Sunday at the market, it looks like more and more people have discovered The Dumpling House and Vicky's honestly good dumplings!

The Dumpling House - Review
Dumplings at home for lunch - wonder what the boys on the prawn trawler will think of these...

The Dumpling House will be at the market every Sunday, 8.30am - 12.30pm.
Fresh, frozen or precooked to be enjoyed on the spot.
Visit the website for the range of dumplings available.
For pre-orders to be picked up at the market on Sunday, email: vicky@dumplinghouse.co.nz 

The Dumpling House is also on Facebook.

So pop down this Sunday to get your dumplings from round the world - you won't regret it!

For more reviews - click here


  1. Good on Vicky, she sounds like she is a great character which I am sure will help her to success

  2. OK - I know where I'll be heading this Sunday!!! What a fantastic post - my tummy is screaming for food now!


    1. I felt the same way when I working on this post, Leah. My stomach was rumbling! The Dumpling House happens to also be making an appearance at the Hill St Market (Thorndon) this Saturday. Hopefully you'll be able to make to make it to either market! :-)

  3. Hmm, these look good. Last dumplings I had were done a back alley in Beijing with locals who really knew what they were doing. Will have to check these out as you make them sound so delicious.


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