As I was walking up the stairs to the Dumpling Wars event, the scent of fresh dumplings and savory Asian cuisine had surrounded me and my mouth started watering. With a huge appetite and grumbling tummies, my photographer Erilou and I were ready to chow down on all the fresh dumplings. Held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Kearny Street Workshop presented one their first-ever dumpling contest, Dumpling Wars. Six teams of amateur chefs came together to compete at creating the best dumpling. With well renowned chefs as judges, there was no doubt that these contestants had to bring it on. For this event, there were two winners. Not only do the judges place their vote, but the dumpling enthusiasts AKA the entire audience got to place their vote on their favorite dumpling. Read more on Audrey’s coverage at Dumpling Wars.
All six teams brought to the table for what I must say are some of the most innovative and creative dumplings that I’ve ever tasted. With a fusion of their own culture, these dumplings tasted like they came from different parts of the world. Starting off my journey with some southern hospitality, Team Oramasama’s Southern Dumpling filled with collard greens has left me wanting more of that good southern food. Lee Heublein-Hsu of Team Oramasama exclaimed, “We all love southern food and dumplings. Our chef Henry Hsu thought it would be perfect to put it together!”
My next destination was San Francisco Chinatown, where this group grew up in a community filled with delicious Asian cuisine. With the original pot sticker and a delicious chili paste, Team We Grew up in San Francisco Chinatown infused their group’s culture into one of the best pot stickers (Dumpling of the Fragrant West) that I’ve ever eaten.
Eating my way west of California, I suddenly landed in Southeast Asia. Team Rebel Dumpling Alliance’s flaky, sweet, and savory dumpling, The Breakfast at the End of the Universe, had this delicious taste that transported me to Singapore for breakfast. With the group’s emphasis on a good breakfast, the fusion of sweetness and distinct taste was divine.
With a bonjour to Team San Francisco State Dumpling Masters, it was too cute to be greeted by these girls in berets. The Nicoise Seafood Dumpling was a transformation of a fish soup into a dumpling, with a taste of spicy rouille to top it off, making it hard to say “Au revoir” to this group.
Team Sticky Fingers presented me with Sweet Surprise, a crispy dumpling with a delicious tangy taste, left me wanting more: it was one of the best
And lastly, my sweet tooth was definitely aching. What a better cure then Team Carb Fairy Dessert Co’s Cocodimple dumpling! This dumpling is chocolate goodness that was the interpretation of a molten chocolate lava cake. With a grand marnier raspberry sauce on the side, my satisfied tummy was very happy and ready to find out who won this very difficult competition.
There were three judges for this event. Tony Hua (owner/chef of Hard Knox Café), Thy Tran (Founder of Asian Culinary Forum), and Joe Villanueva (Executive Chef of 03 Bistro). With an intimidating panel, the teams were excited for the results. For the judge’s winner, they based their votes on four categories. They chose Team Carb Fairy’s Dessert Company as the winner! The delicious dessert dumpling was a definite hit to creativity and delicious taste.
As for the audience, we all based our votes on the dumpling with the best taste! My photographer placed her vote on Team Oramasama for their southern dumpling, while I placed my vote for Team Sticky Finger’s Sweet Surprise. With all the great-tasting dumplings, it was very difficult for everyone to choose just one dumpling. In the end, the audience was won over by Team We Grew up in San Francisco Chinatown’s Dumpling of the Fragrant West.
An event where local foodies and dumpling enthusiasts come together for delicious Asian cuisine, this is definitely on my to-do list for next year. I had a wonderful time meeting great people within the asian american community here in the bay are. With the mission of Kearny Street Workshop in producing and promoting emerging art that also empowers the Asian American community; it’s great to be a part of wonderful events, like this. Dumpling Wars is a great program to showcase amateur chefs to the audience of food lovers and show the many hidden talents of the San Francisco Bay Area. I look forward to the next food competition and all the great events coming up presented by Kearny Street Workshop. For more info on upcoming events, check out their website at kearnystreet.org
For more photos on the event, go to www.simplestella.com