I am always eager to try any of the new restaurants and food places popping up around the city and when I first spotted Dumpling Library, I couldn’t have jumped down the phone to book any quicker.
As House of Zen is already one of my favourite places for a meal in Belfast, their latest addition, which offers what was described to us as “Asian Tapas”, had me sold.
Located in St Anne’s Square in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, it is the perfect dinner location if you want to head out for a few drinks before or after your food as you are only a short distance from all the action of the city’s busiest bars.
The first thing that has to be said is that the staff were incredible and the service just made the experience – we were greeted at the door and shown to our table by a lovely woman who couldn’t have been more accommodating in telling us about how to order and showing us the menus.
In a similar way to Tapas restaurants, it’s recommended that you order a number of small plates to share, however, as we hadn’t been before, we didn’t know what the portion sizes would be like so ended up ordering too much for two people.
Strawberry daiquiri and bramble fizz both went down a treat
Drinks wise, we went with the classic strawberry daiquiri as Zen’s are hard to beat, and a bramble fizz. As expected, both were to die for and we could have drunk them all night.
As we wanted to treat ourselves and taste out a little bit of everything, we ordered pan-fried chicken and mushroom dumplings, Hoi Sin Duck Bao Buns, Taiwanese crispy chicken, filo chicken strips, Korean style spring rolls, wasabi king prawn tacos and a portion of salt and chilli chips (in hindsight we should have known our eyes were bigger than our stomachs).
Spring rolls were my sister’s favourite of the night
All the food arrived at different times and the dumplings came last as you have to give 15 minutes for them to be made but every time something new arrived at the table, we were dying to get tasting it.
My top two picks of the night were the bao buns and the king prawn tacos. The bao bun was deep-fried which is something I’ve never had before but with the classic hoisin and cucumber combo, it was hard to beat.
This is your sign to get the deep-fried bao buns
We were freaking out a bit that we would regret the wasabi decision and our taste buds wouldn’t be able to taste the rest of the food but it came very mild and added a nice heat to the prawn and avocado pairing (I probably could have just eaten these all night and been content they were that good).
Both the chicken dishes were delicious and always a safe bet for anyone unsure of what to order from a place like this, same to be said with the salt and chilli chips – think it’s deemed a crime not to order those when at a Zen restaurant.
Fancy chicken goujons for the fussy eaters of the group
As for the dumplings, he warned the massive (which isn’t a bad thing) but if you’ve ordered as much food as us, you’ll not be able to tackle them when they arrive.
They were nice but we went for the pan-fried option and I think if we were to order again we would get them steamed as the table beside us seemed to really enjoy them.
Although it may have seemed that we ordered the entire menu, that was only a small selection of items that caught my eye and I will most definitely be back in the near future as everything was right up my street.
Salt and chilli anything is always a success in my eyes
I think House of Zen has struck gold with their latest addition and it is set up to be Belfast’s new ‘it spot’ for dinner and drinks as both elements of our experience was hard to fault.
If reading this has left you hungry, which typing it has left me, I would highly recommend pencilling in a Dumpling Library date as you will not regret it.