Vanessa Duan - Tasty Dumpling

Vanessa: [I started cooking] when I was a little girl, I cook at home all the time. I learned that from my mom. I think the dumplings and the pancake [are my favorite]… And you know there’s all the Beijing style, so like a Beijing Dim Sum — all we have here, most of it is from Beijing and Tian Jing, that’s another city near Beijing.

So that’s why we call this name Jing Jing Yo Wur. That means Beijing and Tian Jiang dim sum. [My customers are from all over.] Everybody like dumplings.… [You start by rolling the dough], then put something inside. So all different kinds of flavor, you know, chicken, beef, shrimp. [I don’t cook at home] right now, not really, before when I was in China I cook everyday, that’s how I know how to make all this kind of stuff.

Your sisters work here too?
Yes, this is my sister [working at the register]. And I have another sister working at the other [restaurant].… I’m planning to open, you know, more like this style…. but more different kinds of Beijing food.… Beijing food is different from Cantonese, Shanghainese, it’s completely different. But it’s not that famous here, right now because most of the restaurants that’s Chinese are Cantonese restaurants. … I’m planning to open one that’s traditional Beijing food… that’s a very, very traditional Chinese Beijing food. That’s before that kind of food they make only for the queen and the king.

Was your idea always to open up a dumpling restaurant, or you decided later?
I decided when my sisters came. Because they have been here for about 2 years so when they, I was thinking if they come here it’s very difficult for them to find a job because they don’t know English, they don’t know Cantonese, so it’s very difficult. That’s why I decide to open this small restaurant for them…. Everything is handmade…. In the supermarket, I think some [dumplings] are made by machine. But in the restaurants most of the dumplings is handmade, but it’s not fresh, most of the restaurants that sell dumplings, they sell frozen dumplings. Also the dough is harder. [Ours is] fresh and special … most restaurants sell…[Cantonese dumplings]… it’s a different taste, a different way to make it, so it tastes different also.

Did you go to school here?
Only for language school… I work in the department store before. I learn a lot from the job. In the beginning it was very difficult, I was a cashier at the beginning and then I become a Manager and a Buyer… In China, I study in college. I study accounting… it helped me a lot, so I can do all the paperwork by myself.

Who comes in? People from work, students?
Yeah, work, from offices. And also after school, 4:00, all the students come.… [but] not really [families]. Because the space is small, you know, they can’t come all together. Most of the people that’s at lunchtime is from the neighborhood. But nighttime is from midtown and SoHo. They come here for food, after food, they go to bars because there’s a lot of bars in the neighborhood.