There are three things that drew me to the Ugly Dumpling restaurant London. First, there are few things more satisfying in life, in my humble opinion, than a well-executed pun. Second, great location in SoHo. Third, they serve dessert dumplings which I have been keen to try for at least six months. I have a small obsession with food in general, street food in particular, and dumplings specifically. The Ugly Dumpling restaurant in London is at 1 Newburgh St, Soho, W1F 7RB – just off Carnaby Street and it is well worth a visit.
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Luckily a well-timed visit from the Australian best friend meant that we simply had to visit somewhere fabulous sounding for her birthday – and so the Ugly Dumpling restaurant was chosen! We arrived without a reservation as it was a bit of a whim and there are so many places to eat – they were of course full. Though we were fortunate that a booking for two people had missed their reservation and we only had to wait for 3 minutes.
The Location – SoHo London
Perfectly located for anyone visiting London as a tourist or a local doing some shopping. Perched on a corner, looking adorable, the Ugly Dumpling in London is a lot bigger than it looks as it has more seating downstairs.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a cramped space – the tables are close together but there is a good amount of separation when you’re actually sitting there. Though if you do have crowd anxiety or claustrophobia I would try and get a table upstairs, I find it’s always a bit easier when you can see the outside!
Ugly Dumpling Menu
There are a few options here – you have the choice of selecting individual dumplings, pairs of each flavour, or a multi flavour platter. We chose a meat platter and a seafood platter which meant that we got to try different flavours of each theme.
Meat Dumpling Platter
The meat dumpling platter at Ugly Dumpling was my favourite – two dumplings each of pork belly, duck, satay chicken, and cheeseburger. Yes, I said cheeseburger. I was suspicious, thinking “oh lord really? Why cheeseburger??”.
Then I put it in my mouth and was totally convinced. It tasted … honestly like a bite of cheeseburger but with that particular mouth feeling you get with a dumpling wrapper. I was surprised, I wouldn’t necessarily order a plate full of them but I would definitely be happy if they showed up on my table again!
The other options on the meat platter are more well known flavours in Asian cuisine – pork, satay chicken, and duck. The pork belly dumplings were delicious, full of flavour and without that odd foam texture that cam sometimes happen in a pork dumpling. I did enjoy the chicken satay dumplings and the dipping sauce was delicious. The star of this particular show though was the aromatic duck. The duck was absolutely delicious – even impressing my Australian friend who doesn’t really like duck! I however love duck, and I love pork belly so these were no surprise that I wanted to eat precisely twenty-seven of them. Each.
Seafood Dumpling Platter
The seafood platter was half and half for me. I am always weary of ‘prawn’ and chive dumplings where the middle looks like … well, not prawn. Which I know is ridiculous because I eat many things minced but for some reason my brain says ‘prawns should be cut once or not at all!’. I was thrilled that these were shrimp simply cut in half, and tasted amazing.
The fish and chips flavour on the other hand was plain. I am not a fan of peas with my fish and chips and so I wasn’t really expecting to find them in the dumpling. Additionally, the dumplings are served laying on a bed of tartar sauce, which made actually getting any onto your dumpling a bit of a pain in the posterior. I feel like maybe a dipping solution would have worked better? I don’t know I’m not a chef. But the mini chips were amazingly crunchy.
Dessert Dumpling Platter
Now as much as I liked the savoury options, I was most looking forward to the dessert dumplings, just because I had learned that these were things that existed sometime in 2018 and I nearly melted when I saw the options – Nutella, apple pie, and pecan pie. We again chose the sharing platter so we could try them all!
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The Nutella was delicious, sticky, amazing. The apple pie I would recommend poking a hole in as the middle was EXTREMELY hot – but delicious. Sweet and apple-y, but with a hint of those spices that only bakers know how to properly use. The prize winner, in my humble opinion, is the pecan pie. I actually needed a moment of silence as I was finishing it – and the only thing that stopped me ordering six more was the fact that I was so frickin full.
The Drinks at the Ugly Dumpling London were good – we each had a cocktail and were both quite happy. I had Paloma which I hadn’t heard of before which is tequila and grapefruit, and my friend had an aperol spritz. There is also a good choice of wines, beers, and ciders. We were both pleased with our cocktails and I was happy to see a plenty of options for those who don’t consume alcohol – including soft drinks, sparkling fruit juices, and a good selection of teas.
Vegan and Gluten Free Options at Ugly Dumpling London?
Yes. We didn’t get to try any this time around but I know there’s a revisit in my future. They are easily seen on the menu as the items are marked with V or VV for Vegetarian or Vegan respectively. There are also vegetarian and vegan platters on offer – and they even point out which option includes parmesan*. For gluten free just mention it to the person serving you.
*why does Parmesan matter to a vegetarian? WELL. It’s an enzyme thing. Parmesan is traditionally made with calf rennet which contains the enzyme chymosin which is found in the stomach of calves. Which for most vegetarians rules it out. The rennet is intrinsic to the making of Parmesan and therefore if it’s made without it … it can’t be called Parmesan. For cheese reasons. Like how champagne isn’t champagne unless it’s made in Champagne.
There is a reasonable range of sides available though we were very focussed on the dumplings. The range of non-dumpling sides wasn’t huge, but certainly enough to fill out a single platter into a complete meal. All but one of the sides are vegan (and the other one is still vegetarian) and all but the Nutella dessert dumpling is veggie friendly.
Overall restaurant conclusion
I love this restaurant. Everything about it ticks boxes in forming my opinion. Location – great. Aesthetic – adorable. Atmosphere – cosy. But most importantly – the food was excellent. No I didn’t particularly like the fish and chips dumpling, but I have complex feelings towards peas and firmly (lol) believe they shouldn’t be mushy. Ever. Perhaps for someone with less strict guidelines for peas would love it!
The service is great, we were seated quickly and everyone we spoke to was friendly and polite. Though be on time for your reservation because they will give your abandoned table to walk in customers.
Overall the experience of visiting the Ugly Dumpling is great. The food quality is incredible and the price tops it all off – affordable and delicious food in London isn’t always the easiest thing to find and Ugly Dumpling knocks it out of the park.
Check out the Ugly Dumpling website for up to date menus and current opening times.