Boy oh boy for Hamilton’s Dumpling Boy


When birth “days” become birth “weeks” — even birth months — that’s a trend I am happy to embrace. Gifting yourself a present is not a bad add-on.

That’s precisely what Hung Nguyen did this past July when he used the occasion of his birthday to launch Dumpling Boy.

With 12 years of experience in hospitality, he said the idea had been brewing for a while. He noticed a Hamilton demographic, increasingly interested in dim sum, being forced to drive to Toronto for a quality product. He finally seized the day with the intention of grabbing this target market — and even expanding it beyond the Asian community.

Nguyen was born and raised in Hamilton to parents who emigrated from Vietnam more than 25 years ago. The business is a family affair. Mom, Quy Nguyen, has worked in restaurants and has a bounty of experience with Vietnamese and Chinese food — even in their home-cooking where they blend the cuisines together. His father, Minh, has a business background that contributes to the project.

Hung says it all blended together, “all three brains kind of worked out.” He hastens to add that his sisters sometime help with deliveries.

Dim sum grew from a centuries-old Chinese custom of serving delicate snacks with tea. Hundreds of types of dim sum — many in the form of steamed buns or dumplings — are enjoyed in restaurants even as a breakfast/brunch, a custom called Yum Cha. Some readers may have experienced a restaurant where servers would wheel around carts of dim sum and diners had to point to choose.

With little or no previous experience, a diner may have had no idea what they were eating. These days, restaurants often offer menus with photos and descriptions, enabling a la carte ordering. Dumpling Boy makes it even easier by posting tantalizing photos on Instagram — helpful in achieving one of his goals which is to get people to try new things.

The family business is also partly a home business. In accordance with public health requirements, the dumplings are made in a commercial kitchen in Burlington with help from trained food handlers. They used to do everything by hand, but as demand has increased preparation is now partly mechanized. The dumplings are flash frozen. Unless your order is delivered, you’ll be doing contactless pickup from their home’s garage — licensed for that purpose. Dumpling Boy’s patrons are already stocking their freezers so that they can steam a great meal or snack at a moment’s notice.

The menu began small with popular dumplings. New offerings are being added on a regular basis. Of the choices offered, you can buy one product in bulk, build your own combo or purchase one of their prepared combos.

Here’s what comes in the Combo, all for $10. Two shrimp dumplings, two siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), two chive and shrimp dumplings, two pork dumplings, two beef balls; one sticky rice; one BBQ bun and one salted egg bun.

Dumpling Boy Combo in a bamboo steamer.

Using mainly Canadian ingredients, the dumpling fillings are handmade and often marinated and thus flavourful. You’ll quickly learn to identify each and in the case of look-alikes the siu mai (pork and shrimp) has a red dot distinguishing it from the beef ball. Enjoy them with the accompanying chili oil or your own dip preference.

I especially like BBQ pork buns (Char Siu Bao). The soft, fluffy bao dough is generously filled with shredded pork. The recipe was not revealed but flavours often combine hoisin, five-spice, garlic, oyster sauce and — like all BBQ sauces — a touch of sugar. One BBQ pork bun in the combo was not enough, so I bought an additional 15-piece bag. Bags of 15, 25 and 50 pieces of any dumpling are available.

The sticky rice, wrapped in lotus leaves with a wee bit of minced pork in the centre, was delicious. Since I was sharing the combo, splitting one serving ensured that for my next order I’ll be buying a bulk bag.

Though uncommon today, in my own Hungarian culture chicken feet would make an appearance with Sunday soup. I wasn’t surprised to see these on the menu though Hung says it is still mainly Asian customers who order this. In a black bean sauce, he says it is for many a must-eat dim sum item.

The Salted Egg Bun is a dessert with custard filling that balances sweet and salty.

The salted egg bun is actually a dessert. Using the same bao dough as the BBQ pork bun, the filling resembles a custard with a sweet and salty flavour. A recent add-on to dessert options is the vanilla fluffy sponge cake — also known as “Ma Lai Go.”

Dumpling Boy Kits include a bamboo basket, parchment papers, chopsticks, and chilli oil.

Since everything you purchase is frozen, you will want a bamboo streamer and Dumpling Boy accommodates this need by selling kits that include a bamboo basket, parchment papers, chopsticks, and chili oil. Dumplings are steamed for 15 minutes, the bao dumplings for 10 minutes and only four to five minutes for the sponge cake.

Nguyen launched Dumpling Boy as a birthday gift to himself.

What’s next? Follow Dumpling Boy’s Instagram for menu add-ons and features. His latest feature is the Holiday Tray available only this December — for $25 enjoy four shrimp dumplings, four siu mai, four shrimp and chive, four pork, four beef, three BBQ buns, three salted egg, two sticky rice, and one piece sponge cake.

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Hung wants to be creative and expand the menu, and perhaps one day will open a storefront — but for takeout only.

Diane Galambos

Dumpling Boy

202 Fortissimo Dr., Hamilton

905-746-2558

instagram.com/_dumplingboy/

facebook.com/dumplingboyy/

Hours: Open seven days per week; Pickup every day 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Delivery 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Place order at least 45 minutes before pickup or order ahead.

What I paid: Dim Sum Combo $10; 15-piece bag BBQ Pork Bun $10; Sponge Cake $6 (some, not all, items are discounted 10 per cent on pickup orders)





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