I love a good pop-up. The urgency to visit them during their limited time release makes them all the more appealing. And this one is worth checking out more than once. The first time to see what it’s all about, then again to have some more. It is pretty much a guarantee that just one taste of their Russian style dumplings is not enough. Not to mention, they are also the only ones in the city offering something so special.
It is a little cube of a shop located in Chinatown, the perfect home for a small business. In such an intimate setting you can’t help but strike up a conversation with the staff within. In this case, the owner and lone operator, and her one woman show. She not only preps the dumpling mix, but folds and boils each round, dressing them as you wish, while requesting your money to pay for them.
Having just visited Russia, one of my guest inquired about our dumpling maker’s ethnicity and why Russian style dumplings? This was especially interesting as she is Canadian-born in Saskatchewan, with no Russian relatives. Though her reason was as good as any: she just likes Russian dumplings.
She was more than happy to give us a quick dumpling moulding tutorial behind her small work bench, and I was more than trilled to be able to capture her nibble fingers work in media.
To watch the magic happen for yourself, visit the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.
As for the actual locale, there are three tables and a bench, and not much room to linger around them. Behind the limited foyer is the “kitchen” and its counter where the dumplings are prepared ahead of time and boiled to order. Luckily we came at a time where we pretty much had the place to ourselves, so seating with a stroller wasn’t an issue. Although seeing as they are served in takeout boxes with forks, these one bite wonders are easy enough for you to have your meal on the go.
She also offers her dumplings frozen in bulk for you to take home and prepare, as many as you need, at any given time. I might have to grab a bag for myself and freeze them for future eating, when she closes down after her pop-up stint. “Hey, Dumplings!” is expected to stay stationary, in this location until the end of summer.
The menu is a chalk board list of four options, to your right, right as you enter. On it a choice between meat or potato filled dumplings for savoury and berry filled for sweet.
If you are looking for something in a dessert dumping, your only choice are ones that are blueberry filled. Each pocket holds a whole berry with plenty of its runny juices as a thickened syrup surrounding it. I suspect the filling does change depending on what is on sale and in season, as the menu lists this as “12 berry pelmeni + ice cream”. The 12 refers to how many you get, and “pelmeni” the Russian word for dumpling. It is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which quickly melts from the heat of the 12 freshly boiled dumplings. It makes a fine dipping cream, for this great dessert.
For the savoury dumplings you can have either have them with a meat or potato filling, or a little bit of both. Each tray comes with 18 pelmeni (dumplings) for $10 flat.
We went for a mix and had it dressed as a “poutine”. Your other sauce choices include a “spicy” one with scallions and sriracha, or “pesto” made with sunflower arugula. The latter sounded interesting, but you can’t go wrong with vegetable gravy and cheese curds.
They were served steaming hot, the only conclusion when they are boiled to order. Once cooled we were eager to dig in. A long wait giving our salivation in just looking at them, and more so over smelling them as we blew over each (from fear of singeing our tongues.) You can taste how fresh the dough was. It has a great chew-back texture, springy and thick. Inside it didn’t matter which filling you got, both were amazing in their own way. The meat gave you more of a breakfast sausage vibe with heavy seasonings. And the potato a herbaceous creaminess with spicy pepper.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Hopefully I sold you on this pop-up, because it really shouldn’t be missed. The food is delicious and the owner is a delight. No complaints when supporting deserving small businesses and anything local. Don’t deny your cravings.