Vancouver has a new dumpling spot, located in the home formerly held by Mamie Taylor’s, within the heart of Chinatown. Though this little store front hides a big secret.
BLND TGER is the love letter of a former British rugby player turned Canadian chef, who frequents China every chance he gets. His love of history and cultures that do well to preserve theirs have led him here today. He has taken all his learnings and experiences and poured it into traditional Asian style dumplings, given new life with modern influences. Think Wu Tang Clan and their admiration of Kung Fu and how they took it to help interpret their music.
Our chef/host revealed that through working in Hong Kong and China he appreciated how consistent the level of hospitality was, where it was only the recipes that would change based on region; so he found a way to showcase said various regions in his fusion dumplings.
In a similar fashion, the decor of this shop is modelled after the time he spent in the cities, watching the world go by. He admires history in furnishings so carried forward this concept in BLND TGER’s old frame structure, stained pine, worn brick, and collection of curios spoke to old walking cities that have been there for centuries passed down.
Today we were able to 5 out of the 6 dumplings on their limited menu. Number 1, the Single Malt Xiao Long Bao made with local Chinatown pork and scotch infused soup had sold out for the day. This made sense, as that was the one I wanted to try the most too. And Number 7 was a whole other thing, but more on that later…
Served in a set of three or four, in to go containers, the following are the remaining dumplings available on their menu. All the dumplings are hand rolled and made daily, the steamed to order. If them selling out the very first night is any indication, people are liking this take on dumpling. Don’t come in expecting the traditional, is a modern take with creative twist. Enjoy it for what it is and not what it should or could be. Afterall, when was the last time you had an traditional and authentic Chinese dumpling made with single malt or a plant-based meat alternative?
Speaking of, Dumpling Number 2 is the Vegetable Shaomai. It is inspired by the recipes from Inner Mongolia (as the menu proudly declares). It is vegan and features eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, and fermented tofu, in a spinach wrapper. It is heavy on the eggplant; which catches you off guard, as you don’t expect to have eggplant in a dumpling. But you keep eating and it grows on you, with the umami mushroom flavour coming forward. I didn’t get much of the fermentation in the tofu, but this was an all around great vegan dumpling that didn’t short changed you with its lack of meat.
Dumpling Number 3 is Bison Momos with Tibetan roots. Historically, this would have been made with yak meat, however that is hard to source in these parts, so they have used ground bison from Two Rivers instead. They are well stuffed within turmeric coloured and flavoured wrappers, and sit in a pool of peppercorn soy and house made sepen. “Sepen” is a Tibetan hot sauce prepared with chillies, although this wasn’t the least bit spicy. The bison meat gave it a different flavour: heaty and rich. The freshness was in the greens, and the kick in the sauce. It is different in a way that you have never had.
Their 4th dumpling is the Zhong Dumpling, it is modelled after the more common and familiar Sichuan pork dumplings. Like the momos, this too came pre-dressed in Sichuan chilli oil (that was a slow burn), and a house made soy. This is another change they have taken the liberty of making. You typically get the sauce on the side to self dipping, however they are about convenience and quick and easy dining in their limited seating bench, so the move to pre-dress for the guests makes sense.
The 5th dumpling was one of my favourites. Cumin Lamb Dumpling in a peppercorn soy from Xinjiang. There was so much punch in this one, with the peppercorn soy being the highlight. I just wished I felt more of the numbing effects of it.
And for dumpling Number 6, it is another vegan option. Given Vancouver’s demographic and the surrounding area, it is nice that BLND TGER offers two great vegan dumpling options on their menu. A win for those with a plant-based preference, as they can have a choice between their dumplings, or are able to try more than one. This is the Tmrw Foods & Cabbage Jiaozi, done in a western style. It features a Vancouver based meat alternative solution and nappa cabbage. They have gone with Tmrw’s alternate meat as they are doing great things to get the texture of their meat substitute down, and have been available at other widely popular vegan restaurants like Virtuous pie and Mila. As for how it tastes, I appreciated the levels to this dumpling. There was a nice herbaceous to it, and the ginger and garlic mix keeps you coming back for more as you wrap your head around it.
In conclusion this is not a dumpling stop for those seeking the traditional. This is intentionally new and different. Taking traditional techniques and applying new world views and preferences to the mix. Come in with no expectations and you will enjoy the experience.
And if not, come in and order the “Number 7” instead. This is actually a secret code that grants you access you to their secret bar. But more on that in another post, when I get to visit for their official launch.
Blnd Tger Dumplings
251 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6