Dumplings and Bao (formerly On Cafe)

Address: 31 Clapham Park Road, London, SW4 7EE

For reservations: Bookatable

Telephone: +44 20 3759 0162

Opening times:
Monday: 17:00 – 21:00
Tuesday – Wednesday:: 12:00 – 21:00
Thursday: 12:00 – 21:30
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 – 22:00

This restaurant in Clapham (not Brixton but near enough) has recently changed its name, so it now makes clear what they actually serve – dim sum. Also known for its macarrons. It is small, with about 15 covers at the front and a table for a party of 18 in the back.

Their menu states that they do not use MSG, but have different spices to make their baos and fried and steamed dumplings taste good. We thought the addition of chilli or the soya sauce might be the boost they need. Much of their custom seems to come from takeaways but we sat inside for a early Sunday lunch.

The menu is beautifully illustrated with colourful dumplings and bao. The flavours are wide ranging, mainly south Asian but also crossing continents. With Salmon Thai Green Curry dumplings to Charcoal, Roasted Sesame Teriyaki Chicken steamed Bao. There are three to a steaming container so we chose the salmon, the teriyaki chicken and roasted duck with onion. They arrived on the table as a tower of bamboo steamers.

The salmon was probably my favourite as it lived up to its name. It had a subtle chili flavour but we couldn’t taste the promised basil. The charcoal bao were spectacular, soft and enticing. Not sure where the fresh roasted sesame was as it didn’t appear on the top as we expected. But the teriyaki chicken was lovely. The duck came as finely chopped pieces and I don’t think this worked as well as the chicken.

We washed them down with jasmine tea but were disappointed that it was a tea bag and although perfectly palatable, it didn’t have much of the smell of jasmine. We also bought a box of maccarons for tea. The bill for two of us, without the maccarrons, came to £35.50.

Our overall view. Good to try and our palate may not just have been subtle enough. We think that taking out the MSG means you have to try really hard to put back flavour and they were pulling their punches. We would certainly drop in again for a snack or lunch but wouldn’t make a special trip.

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