The newly opened Dumpling Republic on The Promenade at Robina Town Centre has caught our attention a few times. Rather sceptical of the authenticity of a Russian-owned dumpling restaurant on the Gold Coast, but intrigued by the possibility of a new restaurant to add to our list of favourites, we decided to finally check it out last thursday night.
The restaurant is quite large, with bright, modern décor and a large open kitchen where diners can watch Singaporean chef Sim Kim Kwee (or ‘Master Sim’, as they call him) and his team make the dumplings to order. Unfortunately, the waiter brought us across the precariously slippery floor to a table in the far corner, without a view of said kitchen. The vast menu contains many choices: soups, noodles, hot snacks, main meals and, most importantly, dumplings, majority under $15. After browsing through the menu (and gasping at the single cup of green tea for $4.50!), we marked down what we wanted on the provided slip of paper and excitedly flagged down the waiter.
The first dish to arrive was the peking duck wraps with cucumber, onion, and sauce ($12.80). Out of all the dishes we ordered, this was probably the best. The dish came with six servings of peking duck – a good amount for a small taster plate, without having to commit to a full peking duck dinner. Angela really enjoyed this, though I thought that the duck skin could have been a touch crisper.
The first two dumplings arrived, double tiered in their steamer baskets. First was what I was looking forward to most: the pork xiaolongbao 小笼包 ($8.80, six pieces). They weren’t too bad; the filling was nice and juicy, despite lacking a bit of flavour. I was also quite let down by a severe lack of soupy goodness to burn my mouth on.
The uniquely colourful steamed 4-colour dumplings with pork and vegetables ($10.20, six pieces) were next, and we were pleasantly surprised at how palatable these were. A rather interesting taste for a dumpling, the combination of vegetables (carrot, mashed broccoli (I think?), seaweed, spinach) complemented the pork quite well.
Next was another dish we were looking forward to: the pan fried pork and shrimp dumplings ($10.20, six pieces). By this stage, the table had an abundance of empty plates and steamer baskets that the staff didn’t seem too keen on clearing away (work on this, Dumpling Republic!). After a bit of a shuffle (and some prompting to actually clear the baskets), we found space on the table. With an ‘impressively meaty, chunky filling’ and perfect chewy-on-top, crunchy-on-the-bottom skin, these were rather tasty. Though nowhere near as good as the gyoza at Hakataya Ramen in Surfers Paradise, I would order these again. My main criticism would be that the filling was a touch too dry for my liking.
Finally, the fish wonton soup ($6.80, four pieces) arrived. Honestly, these weren’t even worth mentioning. The soup, or what was left of it after the waiter spilled most of it on the floor on the way to our table, lacked a lot of flavour, as did the mushy and bland (if not slightly sour) wontons.
Overall, I would describe Dumpling Republic as awkward. Whilst not a terrible meal, its attempt to cater for a more western audience, yet still deliver ‘authentic’ dumplings didn’t quite make the grade. Although the Gold Coast isn’t exactly the mecca of dumplings, there are still a lot of other restaurants offering higher quality dumplings at a much, much cheaper price, making Dumpling Republic’s prices rather uncompetitive. The owner’s aim was to bring something ‘we haven’t seen anywhere in this country’. Though it might be early days, Dumpling Republic just lacks that oomph to bring the Gold Coast into a dumpling frenzy.
Shop 1009, The Promenade
Robina Town Centre, Robina
Gold Coast, Queensland, 4226
Opening Hours: 10:00am – late (Mon-Sun)