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22 Sep 2014
You may first remember seeing Vicky Ha, Wellington’s very own Dumpling Queen, riding around town on a pushbike delivering delicious dumplings. She’s a bit too busy to do this now, after opening her dumpling headquarters at 117 Taranaki Street, and more recently, her ‘hole-in-the-wall’ dumpling operation on Manners Street, tucked right in next to Burger King.
I was lucky enough to have an impromptu speed date with Vicky on day three of her recently-opened ”House of Dumplings” at 79 Manners Street. Although she now has two brand new shops under her belt, she remains faithful to the Cuba Street Night Market and City Market.
I had a wonderfully insightful chat with Vicky while she cooked. How cool is it to have your lunch cooked for you by the woman behind Wellington’s favourite dumplings? She may be nicknamed the “The Dumpling Queen” but there are no pretences. She’s hardworking and has a great vision. You can immediately tell she has a strong work ethic and huge passion for what she does as soon as she speaks.
Born in Hong Kong, Vicky learnt how to cook these dumplings with her mother at a young age. Vicky and her sister would sit around the living room and help their mother make the dumplings, using traditional Chinese recipes passed down through generations. Being the daughter of an Italian market gardener, I instantly related to her as it brought back memories of my childhood; getting up before dawn to beat the sun to pick and pack tomatoes - such hard graft but so rewarding. Mind you, nowadays I can't grow a tomato to save myself, but I do have respect for hard work and passion!
These takeaway dumplings are handmade right from scratch. They’re 100% natural, fresh, and authentic. My favourites had to be the Nepalese spiced lamb and veges, Korean sesame beef and sprouts, spiced potato red cabbage, and spinach and tofu.
I devoured mine in no time while I sat in Civic Square. Make sure you hold on tight to your takeaway box though, as Welly’s wind nearly nicked my last one, but I fought back hard – no dumpling gets left behind. Dunk them in the sauce and chilli oil for that extra deliciousness.
My American friend calls dumplings “Pot stickers” which is just another name for them. It actually refers to the method of cooking the dumplings; i.e. steamed on one side, pan-fried on the other, but delicious all over.
Vicky Ha’s dumplings are anything but ordinary. You can truly taste the love and passion put into these wee morsels of goodness. The flavours are oh-so irresistible, so irresistible in fact that I had to go back for seconds.
Warning: these are addictive. Side effects may include: over consumption to the point of turning into a dumpling and having to explain your frequent visits to Vicky with “no, I’m not stalking you, I just really love your dumplings”.
Written by guest blogger, Denise Menara.