We don't need to tell you twice, Sydney takes its dumpling seriously. Seriously enough that any hint of a 'best dumpling in Sydney' debate fuels furious pub rants and endings of friendships citywide — the highly publicised, polarising opening of Tim Ho Wan in Chatswood is a testament to this. But a strong, silent player has quietly joined the game in Newtown, with recently opened eatery Luyu and Yum Yum.
King Street's newest dumpling spot, snuggled up a flight of stairs above Tamana's North Indian Diner, makes a Newtonian dumpling outing into a slightly fancier affair — but not too fancy. Sure, there's an in-house sommelier to take you through the biodynamic wines, owner David Kang takes tea more seriously than other dumpling houses, and the whole joint's bright yellow neon-meets-dark chocolate wood paneling schtick looks ripe for a design magazine feature. But there's a genuine friendliness in the staff and a consistent deliciousness in the nosh that make this new inner west dumpling house the perfect balance between hyped up new eatery and already-celebrated Netwown go-to.
So let's talk dumplings. Presentation-wise, these little gems are among the prettiest in Sydney, so make sure your phone's ready and charged. Pastel-multicoloured Mr Luyu Starburst dumplings ($11.80 for four) look better than Din Tai Fung's famed rainbow dumpling gems (there, I said it), filled with pork and Mr Luyu homemade soup in fruit-infused flour dough. Fungi dumplings ($10.80 for four) filled with All The Mushrooms give vegetarians something other than egg and chive to sink their teeth into.
Moneybag-shaped 'caviar' dumplings filled with fresh prawns, carrot, coriander and celery ($13.80 for four) will pop up on every Instagram check-in — one of our crew noticed they resemble the little bags you pick up in The Legend of Zelda to be able to carry more items. It goes without saying you're going to pay considerably more for these dumplings — around $10-14 for four, which is about three to four times more than your no-frills dumpling spot. But these little parcels are worth it if not just for the table of squeals on delivery and the quick whip-out of phones.
There's plenty more to the menu than dumplings though. If you're paying a visit to LYYY, please, please get the fried eggplant ($12.80). Although popular opinion suggests Chinese Noodle Restaurant makes the best damn braised eggplant in the city, this crispier goodness in chrysanthemum honey soy and dried onion comes slightly close to Sydney eggplant mastery. Try the mini-frisbee ($9.80) too, a thin, crispy shallot pancake cut like a pizza and guaranteed to be ordered twice.
Loose-leaf tea sipped from mismatching cups, tea-infused cocktails and a small, handpicked wine selection are the big drinky players here, with just a few simple beer choices on offer. But don't think you're getting any ol' cheapo Chardy here. There's a friendly sommelier on hand to give you unpretentious wine advice, and there's a particular focus on biodynamic and organic wines. Plus, they're running one of the prettiest wine cellars in Newtown; visibly glorified behind modernist, carved wooden doors.
And while you're sipping, you'll be humming. Taking cues from the likes of Bang Street Food and ACME, the soundtrack pulls every late '90s to now R&B trick in the book. If chowing down on beautifully Instagrammable Chinese dumplings to Ja Rule, TLC and Ne-Yo isn't some form of weirdly unbeatable euphoria, I'll physically buy a hard copy of Nelly's next album.