Five Courses Of Dumplings From Around The World
It was a lovely light evening as we arrived at H.en restaurant for the ‘Dumplings Around The World’ Polygon Pop-Up, perfect for food photography. As we took in our surroundings a member of staff explained how the evening would work; each dumpling course would be brought out in batches to share in clusters of tables, with up to 3 dumplings per course, per person.
But after a 40-minute wait for the first course, the light faded and my photographic advantage disappeared. Tara and I had arrived at 7pm (as advised) but several guests hadn’t turned up as promptly and we were left waiting and wondering where our food was. If the reason we had to wait so long was because we were missing other diners, the service method surely needs a rethink.
While we waited, we were served two cocktails, a Rosa and a Bellini (to be paid for in cash). Unfortunately, this was the only highlight of the evening. Fragrant and tasty though they were, at £6.95 they were a bit steep for the small measures in the glasses.
Chinese Xiao Long Bao
Pork Soup Dumplings with Zhenjiang Vinegar & Pickled Ginger
When the first course finally came out the dumb-waiter, we were pretty much ready to eat anything. The staff made their way around each table, offering us small balls of dough from steamer baskets, inexpertly served with the lid off allowing all the heat to escape. Tara’s vegetarian dumpling supposedly contained sweet potato, but where that was I couldn’t tell you as it lacked any distinct flavour. My dumpling was marginally better, with a strong taste of lemongrass through it. The pork was very pink and the dumpling itself was firm on the outside but full of liquid when I cut into it.
Vietnamese Peanut Roast Aubergine Cua Pao
Steamed Bun, Mustard Greens, Peanut Aubergine, Sriracha
This was one of the better courses. The sweetness of the aubergine was complemented by the fierce kick of chilli sauce, which left my lips tingling long after I finished. This dumpling was very different to the first, with a sticky bun encasing the filling, not too dissimilar to a sweet bread. The seeds atop also provided a welcome extra layer of texture.
Japanese Tofu, Ginger & Spring Onion Gyoza
Fried Dumplings, Dark Sweet Soy, Hot Chilli, Popped Wild Rice
The soup accompanied by dumplings was lukewarm and the only flavour that really came through was pineapple. I disliked this dish so much I left it all.
Turkish Lamb & Garlic Manti Dumplings
With Mint & Tomato Sauce, Sumac Yoghurt & Pul Biberi
The last savoury course was the best of all the dumplings I had and was closer to ravioli pasta parcel. But by this point, Tara and I decided that the courses didn’t fuse well at all together. Each was so very different in flavour and texture that as they sat in my stomach I started to feel unwell.
Polish Sour Cherry Pierogi
With Rose Petal Jam & Chantilly Cream
The dessert dumpling was chewy, making it impossible to cut with the provided spoon. It would have worked much better if the casing was crisp. The jam was also very sweet, too sweet, like Turkish Delight. I gave up eating.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of dumplings to start with but I attended this pop up with the view that firstly it would be an education on the variety of dumplings around the world, and secondly, perhaps my opinion on dumplings could be swayed by a Masterchef quarter-finalist. So being mindful of this, I’ll say this pop up may divide opinions.
For me, there wasn’t one course with that wow factor I’m looking for when I’m paying for a meal out.
I take my hat off to Ingrid for trying a new concept, but my lasting thought was I wouldn’t recommend the menu and I wouldn’t order any of the dishes again. The only dumplings I’ll be enjoying again are the fried Caribbean variety I make at home with my cooked breakfast.
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
PRICE: £35pp (not including cocktails)
NEED TO KNOW:
Phone: 07544 822589
Address: 87-88 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4ER
*Disclaimer: I was invited to review by Polygon Pop-Up, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.