Los Angeles has plenty of Thai food, but what about Tai food? Outside of the San Gabriel Valley, it can be hard to find Taiwanese dumplings. Hoping to bring these delicate balls of meat, vegetables, and dough to the masses, Helen Pan, 25, and Chris Aragon, 28, launched the Dumpling Station food truck. If you were in Little Tokyo this afternoon, you might have spotted the truck on its inaugural run.
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The truck's menu begins in Taiwan and radiates outward to incorporate Korean and American comfort food. Based on recipes that Pan learned to cook from her parents, Dumpling Station (Twitter: @dumplingstation) serves five kinds of dumplings, either fried or steamed (your choice): traditional pork and leek, traditional chicken and green onion, veggie (made with carrots, bean sprouts, glass noodles, water chestnut, Napa cabbage, green onions and garlic), kimchi pork, and kimchi beef. You get eight dumplings for $5-6 or four dumplings for $2.75. Sides, which cost $2-4, include garlic wasabi fries or three kinds of wontons: cream cheese and jalapeño, Nutella, or Nutella and banana.
"We're hoping to use the dumpling wrap not just as a delivery device for traditional Korean dumplings," Pan says, "but as a delivery device for American comfort food."
It's a tough market out there, especially after the recent high-profile launch of the Dim Sum Truck, which features Chinese shu-mai and har-gow. Pan and Aragon, who operate out of the Road Stoves commissary, say they've already learned something from today's soft-launch: kimchi dumplings were the most popular.
Whatever you call them -- ravioli, empanadas, or gyoza -- dough pockets that contain meat and vegetables is a concept that spans cultures, as the Dumpling Station hopes to demonstrate.