Dumpling Devotion In Singapore

Slippery steamed parcels, skewered and dipped into a salty-sweet sauce. Hot chewiness bursting onto taste buds, a soothing savory warmth.

I’m a late starter in the school of dumpling devotion.

Marine Parade Central dumplings

Our first batch of guests in Singapore demanded dumpling satisfaction but we had nothing to offer. We were empty-handed, empty-headed in the world of dumpling fever.

In fact, when my friends told me of their dumpling obsession, my reaction was a puzzled “huh?” I thought of my father’s freezing European winter-inspired dumplings, a sticky and stodgy dessert cooked up when Mum’s dinner didn’t fill all corners of our stomachs.

Dad’s dumplings were divine. Sweet sticky balls steeped in syrup. Engorged raisins (so much more elegant than sultanas), self-raising flour, margarine and heat. My dad was the emperor of afters, the supreme sweet-man, the prince of pudding.

New to Singapore, oblivious to the wonder of the Asian dumpling, my friends’ dumpling devotion seemed an outlandish entreaty. And so we took them out for Peranakan food  (and lost our one and only baby spoon, which our friends rescued from under the table for a lonely life languishing in a drawer in Melbourne).

Little did we know that dumpling heaven lurked just three doors down from Peranakan paradise.

After our first Singapore dumpling discovery, dumplings seemed to leap out at us from every corner.

At the supermarket, I looked up from a pile of plump plums to see a lady steaming dumplings in the freezer section.

We wandered over for a look. The auntie offered us half a dumpling skewered on a toothpick.

Miss M, who has declined to eat that day, opens her mouth like a discerning baby bird to accept the dainty offering.

She frowns when I taste it first, then smiles as the tiny treat hits the target, her cheeks plumping like the dumpling she is devouring.

The steamer lady smiles and begins her hard-sell. I succumb, soullessly. A icy package is slammed into our basket.

At home, Darling Man rigs up a steaming system – a plastic drainer dish perched on a pair of crossed chopsticks wedged into the bottom of our biggest saucepan. The baby accepts more morsels. Bereft of vegetables, we snack on S$10.90 of steamed dumplings, then fall into bed for our much-needed weekend afternoon naps. I am not sure if we shared one or two or three kilograms of packaged pleasure… but we slept well.

The very next day I’m assaulted again. This time I am perusing the produce in the back alleys of our local hawker centre in Singapore.


It’s crowded back there. I’m hot, sticky and in one of those getting-cranky-because-I’m-hungry moods. Then I really notice what’s right in front of me – dumplings.

I stand open-mouthed, staring at the dumpling options, steamed and fried, delectable and disgusting. (Black bean chicken feet, anyone?)

Neptune dumpling stall's black bean chicken feet

I join the queue and order a trayful of treats. (I love Singapore where just about everyone speaks English. If the shall holder doesn’t, someone in the queue will.)


And Darling Daughter, Darling Man and I start dipping the dumplings, deliriously. Life seems so much better with dumplings. The lovely Ms P is really onto something.

Marine Parade Central dumplings

Neptune dumpling stall, Marine Parade Food Centre, Block 84 Marine Parade Central

Dedicated to the lovely Ms P.

9 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

29 Comments

  1. Miss P says:

    Mmmmm. Some of those dumplings look pretty damn tasty – though I’m a traditionalist, and usually stick to the usual steamed pork dumpling. With LOTS of vinegar.

    Pleased I’ve set you on the dumpling road. Not sure when we’ll be back – but I eagerly await the Singapore dumpling tour!
    PS – I’ll try a bit harder to liberate the spoon.

  2. inka says:

    So, now we have darling man, darling daughter and darling dumplings, all in darling Singapore. You make me want to hop on the next plane! Sadly, I have to wait until September.
    inka recently posted..The flight of the angel- a Venice carnival highlight

    • The Dropout says:

      And I haven’t even mentioned the chocolate buffets that are so popular here. We haven’t tried one yet, though. I think the baby’s too young for so much sugar.

  3. Laurel says:

    Love your quote “Life just seems so much better with dumplings” Isn’t it funny how something so simple can bring so much pleasure into our lives?
    Laurel recently posted..Why I Was Scared to Buy a Wedding Dress in Germany

  4. Andrea says:

    So many tasty temptations in Singapore – I love it. Dumplings are so good; it’s hard to find perfect ones outside of Asia – sometimes they are too soggy and don’t hold together well. When the fillings are perfect it’s heaven.
    Andrea recently posted..Ascending the Beast- What Our Volcán Villarrica Climb Reminded Me About Life

  5. i got pretty addicted to dumplings for a while. spent a lot of nights wandering around china town in melbourne. so cheap, so delicious. especially the ones in chilli oil.
    i really want to try the ones in asia, but i just cant imagine how they could get any better than the ones here. if they did, i woul dhave to consider moving.

    • The Dropout says:

      Jamie, I lived in Melbourne for four years and I never had a dumpling once, so I can’t offer a comparison. Let me just say, these are pretty darn good, whether dipped in soy sauce or vinegar. We dipped everything into the caramelly sauce that the prawn rolls were sitting in. Yum-o!

  6. ayngelina says:

    I love dumplings, sadly you can’t get them at all down here. I’m very jealous right now.
    ayngelina recently posted..Blissful beach days make boring blog posts

    • The Dropout says:

      I probably shouldn’t mention the proliferation of PORK dumplings, Ayngelina, given your pork-ophile tendencies. Don’t worry, dumplings will be waiting for you when (and if) you finally make your way east.

  7. Yumm! We’re going to Singapore in a few days, will not miss this!

  8. You’ve got soooo many eating choices in Singapore – I’m starting to work this out now. I’m not dumpling expert but you’ve made me REALLY want to try some. They look great…and so close to your home, too!
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Just Lovin Turkish Music

  9. robin says:

    So I’m picking up that you like dumplings?

    Seriously, from the first sentence here it’s clear that we have crossed the threshold into the hushed interior of a dumpling cathedral, a temple to dumplings…
    robin recently posted..Carnaval

  10. Great, I also have quite a severe dumpling devotion. Yesterday I just found some of the best Shanghai style soup dumplings I’ve ever had in Bangkok! Making me hungry again!
    Migrationology recently posted..Bangkok’s Best Fruit Shake – Blended Nectar Anyone

  11. Grace says:

    It’s Sunday morning right now and I just want you to know that after reading this post I plan to go out on the rainy road to get to the nearest dim sum place for a dumpling fix!

    By the way…I could never get into chicken feet! It’s just looks SO wrong. I feel like at any moment its going to jump and claw at me.
    Grace recently posted..How I escaped a dangerous scam!

  12. Randy says:

    I haven’t been to “dumpling heaven,” yet! But after reading this post, I want to go. It’s gonna be a bit before we make it to Singapore, but when we finally do, I’m going to be all over these.
    Randy recently posted..SH!T My Spam Box Says

  13. Michael says:

    As a huge dumpling fan, this looks so good.

  14. Renee says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your style of writing, it’s as warm and comforting as a crackling fire on an October night. I haven’t had any dumplings unless it was sharing a pot with a plump chicken. Speaking of chickens….I hate to admit that I’ve tasted their feet. But don’t judge me too harshly….my parents fed it to me, so I can’t be held accountable. ;-D
    Renee recently posted..How traveling improves your quality of life

  15. I am tempted to develop a love for dumplings I’ve never really been a big fan, although I did have some good ones in China.

  16. Hana says:

    I just recently discovered the joys of Dim Sum, which also involves tons of dumplings. It was like discvoering heaven! What a coincidence to see some dumpling love on your blog 🙂

  17. Theodora says:

    God! I love dumplings. I am literally salivating. Thanks for this. Great writing, too.
    Theodora recently posted..Homework- AKA Shouty Time

  18. Raymond says:

    I’m lovin’ the warm, fuzzy dumpling feelin’ of this post. You have made me hungry. :>)
    Raymond recently posted..Video — Snake vs Frog- Snake Wins

  19. can i say, YUM?!! i LOVE dumplings. time to head to singapore…
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Exploring Italy through Food and Wine

  20. Angela says:

    I love dumplings, fortunately I live in China where I can find them very easily, I’m never tired of eating them! There are also places here where you can find only dumplings, any kind! Just delicious 😉
    Angela recently posted..A trip- a photo – Man vs Nature

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