Daniel Joseph Jaffé was an English engineer responsible for the Tai Tam dam and waterworks, son of a prominent Jewish businessman in Belfast who sought to further himself in what was still called the ‘Far East’. He died of anaemia in the slightly less exotic locale of Croydon at just 45, but his name is engraved on a memorial stone at the reservoir and lives on most in the Wan Chai street that bears his name. (He’s the one holding the cane, borrowed from the always-excellent Hong Kong history resource gwulo.com)
All of a which is a circuitous intro to a Wan Chai stalwart. In a city not exactly short of dumpling options, you want to live up to your name if you decide to call your restaurant ‘Dumpling Pro’. The fact that it’s consistently packed shows that they’re delivering on their promise.
With maybe thirty seats in total – and that lightning fast Cantonese way of turning tables , somehow clearing, wiping and redressing a table in about 15 seconds – there’s a consistent churn of happy, replete eaters.
The menu is actually quite broad in its scope, taking in Sichuan, Hunan and elsewhere, but they’re not spice specialists and their dan dan mian was previously not the best in town. But you come here for dumplings, something they do very well. Amidst a multitude of options and cooking methods, the pan-fried minced pork and Chinese celery ($5 extra) demonstrate the all-important ratio of filling to wrapper. A slight sweetness comes through alongside a gratifying bite. They didn’t particularly need any of the homemade chili sauces or vinegar to perk them up, but who can refuse a quick dunk?
The water chestnut and bamboo shoot vegetarian option is a perennial favourite in the meat-free side of the marriage, with good reason. Classically-steamed, they’re deceptively light, a smartly-engineered construction that Mr Jaffé would doubtless admire.
Green beans came too, glistening and scalding from the wok hei or breath of the wok, along with minced pork and garlic.
Aubergines also did their thing in a sweet and sticky glaze that cried out to be finished:
With an enormous Tsingtao and a shredded potato dish, the damage was a stupidly-reasonable $350 for two. Service remains friendly despite the frantic pace.
243 Jaffe Rd, Wan Chai, Tel: +852 2877 2827