Shanghai Dumpling Cafe, Civic

9 Apr

Everyone I know seems to be a bit dumpling-crazy at the moment – and why not? Dumplings are great! If there are suggestions that we might be going out for dumplings, no one needs to convince me to come along.

The Shanghai Dumpling House in Civic seems to be a bit of an institution – at the very least for ANU students across the road. Like, it seems, most dumpling houses, it’s very busy, and it’s best to book in advance.

The wallpaper - which abruptly ends 3/4 of the way across the wall - is mesmerising

The wallpaper – which abruptly ends 3/4 of the way across the wall – is mesmerising

We’ve got a very large group today, but a late starting time of 1.30. The medium-sized restaurant’s lunchtime rush is thinning out when we arrive, and while there’s no table set up for our big group, it’s fixed swiftly. There’s not a great deal of attention to detail – some of our soy and vinegar sauce jugs are near or actually empty until we flag it, for example – but it’s not enough to cause concern (in fact, I feel a little silly mentioning it!).


Service throughout remains reasonably well-attentive – after all, there’s a level of assertiveness that customers must exhibit in dumpling houses! – but only a few more tables wander in so it’s hard to expect anything less. On occasion, the staff disappear from the floor for a long time, but it’s better than hovering, and I’m sure there are things to do in the kitchen!

Tea and bowls

Complimentary tea and bowls



We order big for our big group – a range of steamed and fried dumplings, including seafood (fish), beef, chicken, pork, and shanghai. There’s a little bit of a wait between ordering and arrival, but when they come it’s quite an onslaught of the steamed dumplings, followed by the fried.

Steamed pork buns

Steamed pork buns

I always get confused when I see steamed pork buns on the menu in dumpling houses – I’m reminded that they’re not what I think they are, and I eat the steaming parcels you see above, and later wonder what happened to the pork buns? These are pork buns – just without the bready dough. Despite me not realising what they are, they are hot, moist and delicious.

Check out that steam!

Check out that steam!

Seafood dumplings

Seafood dumplings

The seafood dumplings are the no go for most of our group – but I’m not sure if it’s the quality or the fact that it just doesn’t seem quite right to have fish in a dumpling.

Fried dumplings (beef?)

Fried dumplings (beef?)

My nth dumpling

My nth dumpling


Both the steamed and fried dumplings are consistently hot and – dare I say – juicy. The best part is that there’s a great filling to dough ratio; there’s no void in the dumpling parcel. The negative is that the flavours are a little samey between the chicken, beef and pork, to the point that it’s difficult to confirm exactly what we’re each eating, and these same dumplings lack a few vegetables (not that I’m complaining!).

But if you’re after consistent, inexpensive dining? This is it.

Date: Friday, 4 April 2014

Where: Shanghai Dumpling Cafe, 2/35 Childers Street, Canberra

Cost: Dumplings are about $11-12, with 8-15 dumplings depending on the meat and style of dumpling

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? There’s not a lot available online – the best way to find out is to go there (it’s relatively inexpensive, after all!).

Shanghai Dumpling Cafe on Urbanspoon



4 Responses to “Shanghai Dumpling Cafe, Civic”

  1. tinawheeze April 10, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    I’m also consistently confused when the steamed pork buns aren’t barbecue pork buns. There seems to be a distinct lack of good examples of the latter in Canberra.

  2. Rara April 10, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Thanks great review Tara, and just like you I always book in advance….I find that works best:)


  1. Dickson Dumpling House | In The Taratory - April 10, 2014

    […] might’ve thought I’d had my fill of dumplings in the last post, but how can anyone ever have enough dumplings? The day after enjoying dumplings at Shanghai […]

  2. Jade Dumpling Noodle House, Gungahlin | In The Taratory - October 15, 2014

    […] underwhelming. The prawn and pumpkin dumplings at Dickson Dumpling House are worth your while. Shanghai Dumplings in Civic is an oldie but a goodie, but for me ranks just behind Beijing House in terms of flavour. […]

What do you reckon?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: