Dumpling Digest: Tasting the Rainbow, Part 2
A handful of new (and newish) small businesses getting creative with multi-colored dumplings.
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::TV voiceover voice:: Previously on Rainbow Dumpling Month, we took a look at the influential restaurants that are (at least partially) responsible for taking rainbow dumplings mainstream.
::Regular voice:: If last week was all about the rainbow dumpling bigwigs, this week is all about the rainbow dumpling small-wigs. You’ve already gotten to know one amazing one, Sandita’s, the Los Angeles-based business from Sandy Ho (revisit her interview here):
Ahead, get to know a handful of more small businesses specializing in multi-colored dumplings, nearly all of which have opened in the last year or so. I have sadly tried zero of the below spots, but I certainly plan to as soon as it’s feasible. Please let me live vicariously through you, and report back!
Nadas NYC, New York
Nadas NYC is the brainchild of Carlos Santos, whose mother, Olga Santos, has run the Colombian restaurant Aqui Es Santa Fe in Port Chester, New York, since 2008. After spending a few years working with his mother, Carlos noticed that her empanadas were her most popular item—and founded Nadas NYC in 2020 as a way to sell them in a direct to consumers via pop-ups and spots like Smorgasburg WTC.
Colombian in style, the empanadas use a dough that’s corn-based (and gluten-free). Natural ingredients like beets and carrots are responsible for the bright exteriors, with fillings ranging from guava and cheese to vegan mushroom-caramelized onion.
And good news for non-New Yorkers: Nadas ships frozen! I’ll be placing an order ASAP.
Learn more about Carlos and Olga’s business here:
Dumpling Dudez, Houston
Married couple Chih Lin and Mike Dorsey left behind their engineering jobs to launch Houston-based Dumpling Dudez in April of 2020, inspired by both Lin’s grandmother’s dumplings as well as the dumpling parties that the couple would host for friends.
Their dumplings come in an array of bright colors, and have unique fillings (ranging from key lime pie to cheesesteak to chorizo mac and cheese) plus wrappers that were engineered (teehee) to be bake-able and grill-able.
Shinyi Dumplings, Toronto
Toronto newcomer Shinyi Dumplings opened earlier this year. Each of their handmade dumpling colors represents a different flavor, from pork and chive to beef and carrot.
Internet sleuthing has not yet yielded who is behind this restaurant, so keeping this brief (for now) and will update ASAP.
Kwong Shop, Los Angeles
I was a big clay bead girl in the 90’s. (Anyone else own this book back then??)
The quirky-cool patterns that Jen Kwong creates with dumpling dough for Kwong Shop fully channel those vibes, in the best possible way (it’s likely no accident—a version inspired by cat-eye marbles is currently in the works).
The bright dumplings are made in small batches and packed with seasonal veggies. While you have to live in LA to order them, sauces ship nationally.
Mao’s Bao, New York
Mao’s Bao, a pop-up and Smorgasburg fixture from pro Eddie Mao, specializes in sheng jian bao, a Shanghainese style of pan-fried pork bun with a super-juicy filling. A new location opened in fall of last year in New York’s Pearl River Mart.
“I help hand select the ingredients, from the flour to the highest-quality meats. Baos can be filled with a plethora of flavors and tastes. I do not believe that a bao must be one color nor be folded in one way,” Mao told the Institute of Culinary Education (he’s an alum) in 2019. Accordingly, his are available in vibrant hues.
Workaholic, Los Angeles
Technically speaking, Workaholic is the oldest of the dumpling bunch here, having opened in 2017. But its gigantic Korean mandu, a style of mandu known as wang mandu or king mandu, are so bright and colorful that I decided to include them anyway (plus, they’ll be opening a new location as part of the forthcoming Blossom Market Hall, a food hall coming this fall to San Gabriel in CA).
These palm-sized dumplings come in seven flavors (and corresponding colors). Learn more about them from owner Jenny Kim in the video below.