Along with a friend from work, I attended the 2nd Annual Vancouver Golden Dumpling Cook Off. I’ve never been to a themed festival like such before and dumplings was a good start! When tickets when on sale months ago and I saw my cousin would be amongst those competing, it was an additional motivation.
The dumpling festival took place alongside the TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival. It provided some entertainment besides the food but we were just there for the food, really.
Some 600 passports were sold online and sold out. 200 passports were released to the competitors to give to friends and family and 100 more were sold at the door. We lined up at 11:45 and found out we were amongst the first 100 and got a second passport, so we didn’t have to share, haha. (Those are dumpling shaped stamps we received at each stand.) Only those with passports could get a dumpling and the competitors had licenses that restricted them from selling their food items.
As such, my cousin and his two partners prepared 1,000 dumplings this week for the event!
The following are my observations, as far as I can remember.
PiDGiN: Chef Makoto Ono’s Sweet Potato and Chocolate dumpling
– last year’s winner’s entry this year is a sweet one (the only sweet one) which was a fluid combination of sweet potato and white chocolate in a cool broth with goji berries
Homer St. Cafe and Bar: Chef Tret Jordan’s Chicken and leek dumpling
– right after, a savoury bite – clean and light filling in a great cream sauce
Guu: Chef Yuki Ota’s Pork & shrimp dumpling wrapped with dumpling wrapper and tofu bag
– this was such a big bite! Tofu bag was refreshingly different and I liked the bamboo that tied it together
Ask for Luigi: Chef Letitia Wan’s Chicken liver cappelletti in brodo with pancetta and sage
– starting on the Italian stuffed pastas – crispy bacon was nice and the nice and smooth pasta shell – chicken liver is delicious, of course
Merchant’s Oyster Bar: Chef David Jackman’s Braised Duck and Smoked Plum, House Buttermilk and Shiso Sauce
– who doesn’t love duck and it was a good duck inside, smoked plum lent the pink colour and the sauce was a tart complement
Bambudda: Chef Scott Korzack’s Fried next dumpling, spot prawn mayo, seaweed powder
(I should have taken this photo but may have accidentally deleted it.)
– oddly, my dumpling didn’t look the same inside as my friend’s and we couldn’t identify the flavours listed – in fact, mine tasted bitter, like that time I used the wrong baking powder/soda
Bestie: Smoky Bison Wonton with Chili Jam and Kohlrabi Slaw
– I didn’t like the slaw but the bison was good and smoky
The Union: Chef Lisa Henderson’s Red Curry Duck Lychee Potsticker
– didn’t taste the lychee and the hunk of duck wasn’t as good as I expected but I always like red curry
La Mezcaleria: Chef Alejandro Cruz’ Braised beef chicharron in a guajillo chili sauce dumpling topped with queso fresco, salsa verde, and cream
– the Mexican entry was memorable and while I wouldn’t top things myself with sour cream and raw onions, I enjoyed the whole bundle because braised beef in a delicious pocket is a good start
Damso: Chef Eric Lee’s Kimchee Mandoo Dumpling
– I think it was this one where the wrapper fell apart, it was so delicate
Harvest Community Foods: Chef Hokuto Yamanaka’s Harvest #39 Dumpling – Pork ramen in a dumpling
– it was indeed the elements of pork ramen in a dumpling wrapper made from ramen – it made me stop and thing and the dumpling wrapper was indeed unique while looking the same as others
Railtown Cafe: Chef Mathew Koyangi’s Xiao Long Bao – Pork consomme, braised geoduck and water chesnuts
– my cousin was really impressed with the ingredients Railtown used but we couldn’t really taste the geoduck
Winner Winner: Chefs Alain Chow, Chen-Wei Lee and Stanley Yung’s Coastal Dumping – Local crab and shellfish parcels with preserved duck egg yolks and seasoned vinegar
– full disclosure: my cousin is part of this crew – they used really great ingredients in a traditional dumpling and you could taste all of the ingredients (compared to mashed up flavours and fillings) – it was a really great dumpling and beautifully presented – they also had the best spirit, might I add
Wildebeest: Chef Wesley Young’s Foie gras and duck dumpling
– maybe this was the duck dumpling I thought was a bit dry
Cibo Trattoria: Chef Faizal Kassam’s Braised Pork and Fig Agnoli with Taleggio and Crisp Sage
– I really liked this one because braised pork is so flavourful and the cheese was so good
Vij’s: Chef Vikram Vij’s Chicken Samosa
– who needs to give further description than that? Vij’s stood out with a plated “dumpling” topped with hot curry and fried noodles. I suspected they wanted to overwhelm people’s taste buds and fill them up, haha.
Maenam: Chef Angus An’s Thai Seafood Dumpling in Southern Side Tumeric Curry
– the filling was largely shrimp and the curry was very much flavoured with tumeric – fresh coconut topping was nice
Cinara: Chefs Lucas Syme and Gill Book’s Pork and Swiss Chard Agnolotti
– three mini dumplings! While I was experiencing some dumpling fatigue at this time, I still took notice of this ones with really great flavour in the filling
Bearfoot Bistro: Chef Jimmy Stewart’s Duck and Shimp Dumplings with Lemongrass and Fried Garlic
– I don’t really remember this one except for the crispy fried garlic
Campagnolo: Chefs Nathan Lowey and Joachim Hayward’s Ricotta and kale gnudi, local tomatoes, ricotta salata
– this is no dumpling! And I had to wait for quite a bit for it. I should have ended my afternoon with a real dumpling like the I was offered at Winner Winner
I had to split before the derby (dumpling eating contest) and winners were announced so I’m still in suspense.
— EAT! Vancouver 2014 (@EAT_Vancouver) August 11, 2014