I thought I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Carnaby until Ugly Dumpling came along, now it's all love and, well... dumplings.
Brought about Ping Wong, a chef already renowned for her street food and stint at Michelin star restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Ugly Dumpling's reputation sits on a fusion of Western/Eastern flavours that hope to: 'transform the humble dumpling from an Asian street snack into a new dining sensation'. Giving dumplings the label of 'artisan' is to me a little daunting. Known as a grab-and-go snack, I was excited to see how Ping could pump up the dumplings into a fresh craft.
Not only is the restaurant a cutesy blue and wooden space that doesn't mock you with garish interiors, the plate servings are cutesy and blue too. Ready to demolish the entire menu, between us we shared everything from smoked mackerel, courgette/halloumi to mushroom and truffle dumplings. Sure, your pork and your prawn are there, but Ping has done something with dough that deserves applause. Sapid with flavour, not only did the mackerel ring of a neat and petite fish pie, the mushroom and truffle option had a rich flavour that all dumplings merit. Shout out is also deservedly given to the sides, as Ugly Dumpling's tempura aubergine has a warming and simple flavour, while the beetroot noodle salad is something i've never seen before, fresh and dosed up with edamame.
I genuinely had the best night at Ugly Dumpling, trying blends of flavours i'd never had in those petite Asian parcels before, and learning that Ping's staff might just be some of the best in the business.
Ugly Dumpling (the permanent restaurant location) can be found in Carnaby at 1 Newburgh St, London W1F 7RB. Pop-up locations include: Duke of York Square, One New Change, Piccadilly Market, Spitalfields Market and Startisans in Covent Garden.