There have been many dumpling festivals in and around the Lower Mainland, of which I have attended many. However, this is the first ever BC Dumpling Festival covering the tri-cities, and the first based out of Coquitlam. And in this post, I was invited to its first ever media preview.
This is a one-day festival happening this weekend: August 13, 2022 from 11am-8pm at Coquitlam Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam, BC). The event is free to enter and features food trucks and vendors with dumplings on their menus. There will also be live entertainment including a kids zone; with lion dancing, jazz music, dance routines, and art demonstrations.
It is hosted by the Asian Arts and Culture Society and is a festival meant to celebrate “the diverse community we live in and brings together families, friends, neighbours, community organizations and businesses from different cultures to share food, entertainment and laughter. The festival will be the first of its kind in our beautiful community. It is a multicultural, family-friendly event that will showcase dumplings from different cultures!” (As taken from the press release.)
Tonight, we tried a curated selection of dumplings that will be available at this year’s festival. My notes on each are below, in hopes of either helping you narrow down the selection of what to try, or to convince you to try them all. The participating restaurants are as follows:
2754 Barnet Hwy, Coquitlam, BC V3B 1B9, Canada
The preview was hosted at Pasta Polo and they were bringing their classic cheese stuffed Italian Ravioli to the BC dumpling festival. Thick and chewy, the flavours were all there. Although I felt they would have been better fresh and not sitting in wait, allowing the dough to grow heavy and soft.
Sun Star Restaurant
631 BC-7, Coquitlam, BC V3K 3S5, Canada
Sun Star is one of Coquitlam’s longest standing restaurants, first opening in 1975. Family own and operated, their young daughter recalls learning their famous traditional wonton recipe and hand rolling dumplings for her family since the age of 6. Their wontons continue to be their most popular menu item to this day. They are available soup based and fried, stuffed with a mixture of shrimp and pork. More often than not, dressed generously with their house made soy sauce and chilli, topped with fresh herbs and finished off with fried shallots for crunch. They also have a vegetable friendly option.
Mr.Siopao De Langley
5680 198 St Unit- 3, Langley, BC V3A 7C7, Canada
This husband and wife duo started making their Sio Pao, Filipino Style Steamed Buns during the pandemic and now operates out of a commissary kitchen in Langley. They were humble enough to admit that they weren’t professional chefs with any kitchen experience, but have found a passion in preparing food that they love, the way they love it.
Their steamed buns are available in a chicken filling, stuffed with pork; or as bola bola, a meatball and egg version. I was lucky enough to try all 3 options made available to us today, and hands down this is new my favourite Filipino-style steamed bun to date. Each bun was stuffed full, fantastic more meat to less white starchy bun ratio. There is a dip available, but each bun was properly salted and the filling generously sauced that it didn’t need it.
My favourite was the pork bun. Similar to Chinese-style barbecue pork buns in that both are sweet. Though this was just more savoury rendition, and its sauce more like a gravy.
They are also offering their take on Chinese-style siu mai at the BC dumpling festival. A mixture of pork and shrimp, once again stuffed full and expertly crafted. We could swear we tasted a little sweetness from Filipino sweet sausage: longganisa. I especially liked it with their take on XO sauce.
329 North Rd #455, Coquitlam, BC V3K 6Z8, Canada
Also know as Mandoo, their second restaurant offering the same style of dumplings as their original, Myung-Ga. Today they had a kimchi with pork dumpling and a pork dumpling. The kimchi was spicy and its flavour very pronounced. The pork a lot less salty and memorable if you eat it after the kimchi. Both had a thicker and glossier skin than that of Chinese style dumpling wrappers.
They will also be offering their version of a steamed pork bun at the BC dumpling festival, however we were unable to try them here, so I cannot report about it.
On On Wonton House
5640 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2G5, Canada
On On is offering something different and special for the dumpling festival. Not normally on their menu they brought an eye catching assortment of cute steamed buns. Each empty and to be eaten with condense milk as a dip. And each a collectable with tigers, chickens, bunnies, and even an Asian dragon. I especially loved the mushroom and intend on keeping it as home decor over eating it.
They also brought a handsome build your own Bao platter. You start off with a white dough clam shell bun and fill it with slices of duck, julienne pickled carrots and daikon, and fresh pineapple. Then coat it all in a cherry sauce. I have never had a version like this and loved it for its use of sweet fruit with the more traditional savoury ingredients.
This is the first time this one woman show is making plant-based dumplings. These from scratch dumplings are inspired by the Himalayan momo-style dumpling. Three different offerings with 3 different personalities all their own.
The mixed vegetable dumpling had cabbage, onion, carrot, peas, and mushrooms. A hearty mix with a very herbaceous after taste that didn’t quite sit well with me. This was not my favourite.
I really liked the spinach and vegan feta dumpling. The texture of the filling was creamy and whipped smooth, a great contrast against the chewy and starchy dumpling wrapper. And although not milk made feta, I still got a the essence of the distinct cheese in this. Best paired with Momojoy’s tomato based dipping sauce prepared with cashew.
Others I spoke with enjoyed the plant based protein dumpling the most. It was certainly the heartiest, but I felt the filling could have used more seasoning and I would have liked a different sauce to flavour this one. There was the one same sauce to use between all three dumplings.
And as a part of our preview, Chef Fred Soofi of Pasta Polo revealed a five-nation dumpling. This was a dumpling that included ingredients from five different countries, and represented the collaborative spirit of the festival’s participating restaurants.
The dumpling wrapper is from China, the wild rice filling represents the First Nations people, and the dumpling is coated in an Indian inspired curry sauce prepared with Iranian saffron spice and coconut milk from Thailand. It was an interesting collection that worked. The flavours melded well, and is like nothing else I have tasted. I just wish the texture was a lot more firm. The dumpling melted in your mouth, becoming a mound of soften dough.
In closing this is a great way to learn of smaller based, new and interesting restaurants. And an even better way to learn more about the variety of dumplings that are available in the tri-cities. For additional details on the festival and the full schedule of performances visit the link below.