One simply does not have an outdoor market without food.
When Elaine Won of Dumpling Haus joined the Market at Sawyer Yards, I was beyond thrilled. Her delightfully delectable dumplings were not only delicious, but her presence put me one step closer to realizing the market as a true outdoor venue for folk art.
Won, along with her daughters Ashley and Amiley Lai, are moving their popular pop-up dumpling business to a permanent location in Sawyer Yards. Ashley Lai told me they are shooting for a late January opening at 2313 Edwards St., just in time for the Chinese New Year.
Won grew up in Guangzhou, China, and every week, she and her brother made dumplings with their father.
Won continued the tradition of making dumplings at home when she couldn’t find any after moving to the U.S. Lai said she and her sister were not always welcome in the kitchen, though, possibly making the siblings even fonder of the popular Chinese New Year dish.
When Lai was in college, her mother would visit with a full ice chest full of frozen dumplings. Lai thinks her mother was trying to ensure she got enough nutrients and unknowingly made her very popular with friends. While studying abroad, Lai gathered her friends and did their best to recreate the dumplings, but she lamented never reaching the joy her mother’s dumplings brought her.
Lai said with the restaurant, they can expand the menu offerings of other Chinese dishes, including a larger variety of frozen dumplings, to go. I can attest to how wonderful those frozen dumplings are when returning home late at night, hungry, but too tired to cook! Remember to grab a bag of frozen dumplings after you dine in!
Won and her daughters have been sharing their dumplings and other favorites at area markets and businesses since 2016. They only joined the Market at Sawyer Yards in the summer of 2018, and I expect this weekend will be their last time serving there under a tent. Early next year, though, I can visit them daily for my dumpling fix!
It is traditional for people to eat dumplings on Chinese New Year. The dumpling shape resembles ancient Chinese gold ingots, and the first meal represents prosperity and wealth for the coming year. I wish the same for Dumpling Haus, Won and her daughters.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com.