Anne DesBrisay is the restaurant critic for Ottawa Magazine. She has been writing about food and restaurants in Ottawa-Gatineau for 25 years and is the author of three bestselling books on dining out. She is head judge for Gold Medal Plates and a member of the judging panel at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
The Bubblicity Tea Shop on Somerset West once cornered the market on bubble teas. “But then everyone started doing them, and we began to lose business,” the young guy who delivers my lychee shake with squishy tapioca pearls tells me.
So the owner, I was told, munched his way through Montreal, came home deciding to change direction, and hired a dumpling maker for his shop.
Last fall, the Bubblicity Tea Shop reopened as Dumpling Bowl, with a food menu. Bubble tea lovers need not despair — customizable teas and smoothies remain on offer — but you can now pair your drink (nothing stronger than tea here) with nine varieties of handmade dumplings, served boiled or pan-fried.
We’ve scarfed down pork and cabbage potstickers (fried on one side), chives and shrimp (also fried), and ones filled in with zucchini, mushroom, and mung bean (boiled). The sauces provided may be housemade, but they could use some work: the peanut sauce is icky-sweet, the spicy mayonnaise nothing special. We splash on the black vinegar provided on the table and find it the best match with these doughy-treats.
We follow these with the house special soup, an aromatic beef broth filled in with chunks of ginger, fresh, chewy Shanghai noodles, scallions, chiles, bok choy, and marvellously tender beef brisket. Full marks.
Dumpling Bowl earns pretty high marks for ambience, too. Service is pleasant and food arrives quickly.
Dumplings, $6 to $7.50 for 10; $8 to $10 for 15.
Open daily from 11 a.m.
730 Somerset St. W., 613-845-0880, dumplingbowl.com