1009 Robina Town Centre
Robina QLD 4226
+61 7 5580 8292
A Russian businesswoman saunters into the Gold Coast and opens up a dumpling restaurant. Wait, a Russian opening a dumpling restaurant? Dumpling restaurant? On the Gold Coast? I knew I had to see it for myself.
After getting up at the ungodly hour of 1:30pm on a Saturday afternoon, Marty and I decided to check out the new dumpling restaurant at Robina Town Centre, Dumpling Republic. We had not consumed breakfast nor lunch and we were STARVING.
Alexandra Korina owns 15 restaurants in Russia and after relocating to the ‘Coast with her husband, thought it would be a great idea to open up a dumpling restaurant there. Her aim was to open something ‘we haven’t seen anywhere in this country.’ Hahaha excuse me but WHAT? Has she not been to Melbourne or Sydney before? (yes, I was still sceptical)
She brought along Singaporean chef Sim Kim Kwee (or ‘Master Sim’) who has been trained in the art of making dumplings since he was a wee lad and has worked in Asia and Russia. With Sim and his team skilfully running the open kitchen, we knew we’d most likely be in good hands (… but I was still sceptical).
My iced ginger and lemon tea ($6) and Marty’s acai berry freeze ($8) might seem like strange drink choices when we were about to embark on a dumpling carnage. But sif pay $4.50 for a non-refillable cup of tea. My tea might have erred on the dull side but Marty did enjoy his acai berry freeze.
Our first dish to arrive was the pork wontons with spicy sauce ($6.80 for four pieces). Did I say dish? Scratch that, I meant dishes. Marty loves his particular dish so much so we ordered three of them… well, it’s Dumpling Republic’s fault for only chucking four dumplings in one bowl. The sauce was nice enough, but it was missing some garlic and the kick that’s normally provided by heaps of Sichuan peppercorns.
Then came what was Dumpling Republic’s signature dish: the pork xiaolongbao (soup dumplings, $10.80 for six pieces). They weren’t bad, tasty even, but they were let down by the filling that was verging on lukewarm.
We thought the steamed wagyu beef and onion dumplings ($12.20 for six pieces) sounded
weird interesting so we ordered a serving. While I wouldn’t order them again (pork FTW), I did like how the caramelised onion pieces gave a lovely bit of sweetness to the filling.
Our steamed prawn and scallop dumplings ($12.20 for six pieces) contained a pretty impressive filling of plump, juicy prawn and scallop pieces. Lifted by bamboo shoots and a bit of sesame and ginger, they would have been mind-blowingly good if it wasn’t for the soggy skin that gave way at the slightest prod of a chopstick.
I was surprised at how good the pork and prawn siu mai were ($10.20 for six pieces). Mind you, this was 36 hours after we enjoyed some late-night yum cha staring some pork and prawn siu mai at Ming Palace and 34 hours after swearing that we wouldn’t eat there again because of upset stomachs. Unlike the ones we had at Ming Palace, these beauties were fresh, hot and had equal portions of pork and prawn.
I wasn’t too impressed with the pan-fried pork dumplings ($10.20 for six pieces). For one thing, $10.20 got you almost three times as many dumplings in Melbourne – and they tasted miles better. These ones contained a decent pork filling that was perfumed with ginger and spring onion but they were soggy and oily as hell.
It wasn’t a terrible meal but I was still sceptical. We walked out paying just a touch over $100 for the two of us, which is a lot to money to spend on what is supposed to be cheap food. In an article published in the Gold Coast Bulletin, Korina says that patrons can be fed for less than $20 but we paid much more than that. I mean, we had to because each serving didn’t hold enough.
We were also a bit annoyed at being interrupted every few minutes by a waitress/another waitress/the manager how our meal was. Once is enough but five or six times while we’re shoving dumplings in our mouths? C’mon now. And it’s not like they didn’t ask us to fill out the feedback card every fifteen minutes either. They weren’t rude – in fact, they were really nice – but still…
I give Korina props for being ambitious but I’m not sure if a Dumpling Republic would work well in Sydney and Melbourne – there are just way too many competitors that offer better and CHEAPER dumplings. I do like that there is no other place on the Gold Coast that’s like this so I hope that Dumpling Republic encourages competition (rumour has it that they’re opening up a dumpling restaurant in Sanctuary Cove, how exciting!). Given Gold Coast’s lack of dumpling restaurants (well, good Chinese restaurants in general), I guess Dumpling Republic can afford to charge almost as much as a one-way flight to Moscow for a meal. And sucker such as myself who love dumplings so much will happily pay. Wah.