Dumplings of China, 60 Home Street, Edinburgh

We’re obviously going to order dumplings, this restaurant being called Dumplings of China, but we’re feeling as though we should order something other than that, now that we’re presented with the menu. With some difficulty, for this menu if long and refreshingly unusual, we compose our order: spiced fish fillets with pickled cabbage, roast duck with fried sweet potato noodles, homemade sautéed tofu, deep fried French beans with minced pork and chilli, and the dumplings. We can’t decide between them so we order five different sorts. Happily, they’re inexpensive, between £5.50 and £6.50, depending on the filling. Spinelessly, we leave the more adventurous curiosities for another time: Szechuan ox tripe, cow throat in hot chilli oil. In the gentlest and most polite way possible, our waitress stops us over-ordering. “Too much” she says, smiling. So we offer ourselves up into her hands and strike a compromise, vegetable hot and sour soup, then the dumplings, in ‘small’ portions, that’s seven per serving.

We like the feel of this place. If my memory serves me correctly, it used to be a Chinese hot pot, or ‘steamboat’ restaurant, its windows streaming with condensation during hours of peak service. The space seemed a tad utilitarian then, but not now. With its whitewashed brick walls, geometric black and white tubular lights (too bright for me, but you’ll definitely see what you’re eating), straw gold tablecloths, and wall posters illustrating its dumplings that wouldn’t look out of place in a Look and Learn book of the Wonders of China, functionality has been chased out a soft, clean cheeriness, and some luxe touches, such as the heavy, mercury-black iron teapot embossed with golden dragons that holds our green tea. With its smooth, arched handle, it’s a joy to hold.

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Now, I do like hot and sour soup, but this one has a star quality. We can pick out various of its elements, a hefty chicken presence, the mushrooms, these help to account for its deeply savoury umami quality, which holds its own against the overlay of sourness and a slow to emerge chilli underbelly. It’s almost like a brown jelly, thick with silken tofu and strands of egg. It's so satiating, one portion easily serves the two of us.

Up come the crimped, half-moon dumplings, all in their multi-coloured, crimped wrappers: cuttlefish in mercury-grey; prawn, pork and chive in ecru; beef and onion in puce; carrot, vermicelli, black fungus and egg in a pale orange. The dough in the wrappers is silken, light, yet it elegantly contains the fillings. Reminiscent of Xiao Long Bao,, Chinese soup dumplings, juices spill out of each one into the mouth.

Might we find this procession of dumplings boring? No way, for each filling is distinct, you’d pick them out effortlessly in a blind tasting. There’s a mild aniseed and ginger background to the surf and turf, pork and prawn one. A mellow squid fishiness is the hallmark of the cuttlefish ones, the pearly minced meat that tastes fresh from the quay peeping out from its dark grey casing. The first thing we notice about the beef ones is their enticingly meaty smell, which curls under your nose, flagging up the contents, sublimely soft, melting meat. The carrot ones, which sounded to me like a gratuitous sop to vegetarians and vegans, are sheer delight; the consistency of the filling is so interesting, the carrot flavour tastes so freshly picked, you can’t miss it. We have ours steamed, with dipping sauce on the side, but you can have them fried, or in soup.

Our waitress was absolutely right: soup and dumplings is enough. But I do mean to return so I can do justice to the rest of the menu. As we finish up every last bit of our dumplings, not because we’re still hungry, but because they’re so enticing and too good to waste, our waitresses – lunchtime rush over – are eating their lunch at another table, big bowls of fragrant steaming noodles with savoury smelling bits and bobs in them. But that’s for the next time.

Dumplings of China, 60 Home Street, Edinburgh 0131 624 0056

Food: 10/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Service: 10/10

Value for money: 10/10