One of the few frustrations of yum cha is waiting for the trolley to make its way across the restaurant, only to watch it run out of steamed dumplings just as it reaches your table. For those too impatient to wait, they can join the fast moving queue at Happy Little Dumplings. Despite the lunch time rush, the staff were polite and upbeat in wrangling the many and complex orders.
James Street is the second shop of this mini-franchise which started with a stall at the markets and then opened in Oxford Street, Bulimba. The yum cha menu has gourmet, vegetarian and seafood dumplings to choose from, as well as steamed buns and Vietnamese rice paper rolls. They are slowly increasing the choice with Asian salad and gluten free dumplings on the way.
Because I don’t like to miss out, I ordered a serve of Vietnamese rice paper rolls as well as two types of dumplings. The marinated chicken rolls ($7.50 for two) were huge and filled with lots of fresh ingredients such as carrot, lettuce and herbs. A serving of two would be plenty for lunch. Next, the prawn and coriander Har Gow ($2.50 each). They were gelatinous and subtly flavoured little parcels with a generous amount of prawns. The Chinese Chilli Duck Dumpling ($2.00 each) had a great chilli hit, offset by just a touch of sweetness.
Happy Little Dumplings is open seven days a week, and when I was there, a constant stream of people arrived for a quick takeaway or sit down lunch. The food is fresh, carefully made and well priced. The rituals of yum cha restaurants are pleasant. A big table, sharing lots of plates, washed down by endless cups of jasmine tea. But if you want the dumplings without the ritual, head to Happy Little Dumplings and join the queue.
Address: Shop 10, 65 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Phone: (07) 3854 0741
Hours: 10am to 4pm – seven days a week