Sunday, June 26 2022


Find happiness at the Grumpy Dumpling

Update: April, 17/2022 - 10:18


BITE SIZE: The Grumpy Dumpling's offerings disappear fast. Photos courtesy of the restaurant

by Carlos Ottery

There are always those, let’s call them traditionalists, that wince at the idea of fusion food. They break out in fever at the mere thought of pineapple on pizza or eating a dumpling made by anyone outside of an ageing auntie in a Guangzhou suburb. Set overlooking Hà Nội’s twinkling West Lake, the Grumpy Dumpling begs to differ with such people and to excellent effect.

This casually refined restaurant, minimally decorated with slight industrial vibes that you might find in a trendy loft in a hip corner of Manhattan, offers up an exotic collection of small plates, with dumplings inspired by anything from cheeseburgers to apple pie as the main draw.

Though it has been officially running for nearly a year, the pandemic has seen it closed more often than open, and it is only in the last two months that the restaurant has fully found its feet.


FUN FUSION: Deep fried cheeseburger dumplings

The weekend we visited, it was completely full with a diverse crowd of patrons ranging from young families looking for fun food for the kids to young professionals seeking something different.

The Grumpy Dumpling is the brainchild of garrulous American Cristina Bain and talented Australian chef Gabby Redmond.

They met at a pop-up run by Redmond in the summer of 2021. Bain, and her husband Jules, had been keeping an eye out for someone to start a business with. They soon went about looking for the right spot. They came across their current location seven months later, and the Grumpy Dumpling was born.

Redmond confesses to having had a mild obsession with dumplings since she was a teenager and has thrown regular dumpling parties ever since.

“Growing up in Australia, you are exposed to so much Asian food, and I always loved doing the dumplings, and then I started doing little events here. And of course, everyone says you should set up a proper business with it, and don’t take it too seriously, though I knew I wanted to,” she says.

“None of us really had any idea of how hard it would be, especially with COVID affecting the country after we managed to get the doors open. But we got it done. And since restrictions have been lifted, we’ve seen a great deal of support, which is such a great feeling.”


SPICE IT UP: Charred green curry cauliflower

Arriving at the restaurant, the place is buzzing, and we opt for a couple of sharing plates before our dumpling tour. We go for the ‘charred green curry cauliflower’ (VNĐ100,000), the ‘green bean and smashed cucumber’ (VNĐ90,000), and, in a nod to fusion-eating, a couple of Belgo cherry beers to help wash things down.

The green bean salad is served cold with white miso, sesame and spring onions. The food is fresh and zingy, highlighting everything great about Southeast Asian flavours. Cool and tangy, the beans have an ultra-satisfying crunch.

“We don’t usually eat beans this way, so good,” says my Vietnamese dining partner and proceeds to finish the plate.

The green curry cauliflower is served with slices of red chilli, lemongrass, lime, coriander, shallots and galangal and has a pleasant spicy kick without leaving you gasping. The cauliflower has beautiful charcoal undertones, which are set against the zestiness of all the other flavours – a delightful dish.


READY TO EAT: The dumplings come steamed, pan-fried or deep fried

One of the pleasures of eating at the Grumpy Dumpling is the tapas-y nature of all the dishes. Everything is ideal for sharing, never overbearing, and it’s easy to order another plate of something whenever you please.

Next up, we go for the dumplings, opting for the ‘deep-fried cheeseburger, a child favourite (VNĐ130,000), alongside the ‘duck & 5 spice’ (VNĐ130,000). Other options include ‘chicken & lemongrass’, pork & ginger’, ‘prawn & scallion’, ‘mushroom & cabbage’, and zucchini & roast garlic).

There’s no doubt a dumpling of beef, cheese, bacon and red onion, topped with something akin to Big Mac sauce and pickles, might not please the traditionalists, but it’s a cracking and fun plate and one of their most popular options. The pickles on the side are a particular sensation. Made in-house, they would have a Jewish grandmother swooning, and we find ourselves encouraging the restaurant to sell them by the jar (they say they will think about it).

The duck dumplings -- we chose the steamed version -- brought a return of flavours more befitting of the dumpling’s Chinese roots. With its hints of Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves, it had bursts of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami flavours all at the same time and paired well with the restaurant’s homemade sauces. Another winning dish and we were beginning to feel you couldn’t make a bad order here if you tried.

Almost sated, we finished off with the ‘deep-fried apple pie dumpling’ (VNĐ100,000). Filled with plump pieces of sweet apple and topped with a cinnamon brown-sugar, these were served with the creamiest vanilla ice cream this reviewer has ever tried, drizzled with an addictive toffee sauce that served for a pitch-perfect pudding.

This spare, elegant restaurant, which also has a small outdoor terrace with views of the lake for those who like to dine al fresco, doesn’t put a foot wrong and is set to be a surefire hit to all who try it. VNS


The Grumpy Dumpling
37 Ngõ 52 Đường Tô Ngọc Vân, Quảng An, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội
078 239 8715
4pm - 11pm
Comment: A casual affair focused on dumplings with a twist


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