Guess what we had for lunch today? Why, yes! How’d you know?
Today, Akemi and I headed down to Chinatown for Vancouver’s Golden Dumpling Cook Off, featuring signature dumplings from a variety of local chefs, all in support of The Chinese Elders Community Kitchen. The purchase of a “golden dumpling passport” got you a dumpling at each of the 20 event participants. Unfortunately, advance passports sold out weeks ago – BUT 1oo passports were to be made available on a “first come first buy” basis on the day so Akemi and I got there early, well ahead of the noon kick-off.
We joined about two dozen people in line at 11:00 a.m. By the time the passports went on sale an hour later, there were well over a hundred people waiting.
As we inched along, I kept doing the math in my head. We were 20th and 21st in line. If the people ahead of us each got a ticket, there’d be plenty left for us. Hell, they could buy an average of five tickets each and we’d still be okay. But more than five…
Fortunately, there were still plenty of passports available by the time we reached the ticket table. I, of course, purchased two because: a) I wasn’t sharing and, b) I was counting on Akemi being a light eater and passing on the foie gras and truffle dumplings which would mean more for me.
Once we had our passport and chopsticks (which we were instructed not to lose as they were apparently in short supply), we waded into the crowd…
Each stand had its own mini line-up. After making your way to the front, someone would stamp your passport after which you’d be handed a dumpling. After a while, to save time, we would simply eat our dumplings while waiting in line for more dumplings.
There were quite a variety of dumplings on display, from obvious Asian influenced entries to Italian, Indian, and Mexican-inspired offerings.
The full line-up:
Ask For Luigi: Chicken Liver Capelletti in Brodo with Pancetta and Sage (Chef Letitia Wan)
Bearfoot Bistro: Duck and Shrimp Dumplings with Lemongrass and Fried Garlic (Chef Jimmy Stewart)
Bambudda: Fried Nest Dumpling, Spot Prawn Mayo, Seaweed Powder (Chef Scott Korzack)
Bestie: Smokey Bison Wonton with Chili Jam and Kohlrabi Slaw (Chef Colin Johnson)
Campagnolo: Ricotta and Kale Gnudi, Local Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata (Chefs Nathan Lowey and Joachim Hayward)
Cibo Trattoria: Braised Pork and Fig Agnoli with Taleggio and Crispy Sage (Chef Faizal Kassam)
Cinara: Pork and Swiss Chard Agnolotti (Chefs Lucas Syme and Gill Book)
Danso: Kimchee Mandoo Dumpling
Gyuu: Pork & Shrimp Dumpling wrapped with Dumpling Wrapper and Tofu Bag (Chef Yuki Ota)
Harvest Community Foods: Pork Ramen in a Dumpling (Chef Hokuto Yamanka)
Homer Street Cafe & Bar: Chicken and Leek Dumpling (Chef Tret Jordan)
La Mezcaleria: Braised Beef Chicharron and Guajillo Chili Sauce Dumpling (Chef Alejandro Cruz)
Maenam: Thai Seafood Dumpling in Southern Style Tumeric Curry (Chef Angus An)
Merchant’s Oyster Bar: Braised Duck and Smoked Plum, House Buttermilk and Shiso Sauce (Chef David Jackman)
Pidgin: Sweet Potato and Chocolate Dumplings (Chef Makoto Ono)
Railtown Cafe: No idea. Went by twice and they were having trouble getting food out both times so I skipped it.
The Union: Red Curry Duck Lychee Potsticker (Chef Lisa Henderson)
Vij’s: Chicken Samos (Chef Vikram Vij)
Wildebeest: Foie Gras and Duck Dumpling (Chef Wesley Young)
Winner Winner: Coastal Dumplings – Local Crab and Shellfish Parcels with Preserved Duck Egg Yolks and Seasoned Vinegar (Chefs Alain Chow, Chen-Wei Lee, Stanley Yung)
A crazy amount of dumplings and I managed to sample them all – with the exception of Railtown Cafe that seemed to be having trouble with their steamer. The first time I went by, they had no dumplings on the table and, half an hour later when I went by again – same problem. Some hits, some misses as well, but my favorite was the entry from Maenam’s Angus An – that ended up winning the event as the crowd favorite. Second place went to Winner Winner. La Mezcaleria took third.
A great time was had by all – but especially me since, as expected, I ended up polishing off most of Akemi’s dumplings as well.
May skip dinner tonight.