Modern Dumpling Wonderland Gets Rolling in San Francisco
“The whole idea was fresh dumplings, hand-rolled dough, making fillings completely from scratch.”
Dumpling Time, the San Francisco hot spot that Omakase Restaurant Group opened last week, is a “filling-forward” modern Asian restaurant with a glorious dumpling obsession. On the menu, you’ll spot spinach-skin seafood gyoza and har gow filled with shrimp and pork, every piece hand-rolled.
“The whole idea was fresh dumplings, hand-rolled dough, making fillings completely from scratch,” says Edgar Agbayani, corporate chef for Omakase Restaurant Group, which also runs the Michelin-starred Omakase. “We kind of rethought what the fillings should be. We want to be more filling-forward and to make really fresh dumplings where you can really understand the taste and textures.”
Even the sauces, tailored to each dumpling, emphasize the fact that this is not your typical dumpling joint. The cilantro har gow are served with a garlicky Asian pesto featuring ginger, cilantro, scallion, spinach, oyster sauce and black peppercorns. The seafood gyoza benefit from both the creaminess and spiciness of a chili-butter sauce, which Agbayani says was inspired by shrimp scampi—it’s a traditional beurre blanc enhanced by togarashi.
“It’s a little bit about modernizing it and not always using soy sauce and chili and vinegar,” he says. “I wanted to use traditional French cooking techniques.”
Other culinary minds behind Dumpling Time include dumpling chef Do Leung (formerly of Tai Wu in Millbrae), as well as the mothers of both owner Kash Feng and Omakase executive chef Jackson Yu.
The result of their extensive recipe-testing is a wide-ranging menu that includes a spectacular highlight: pork belly xiao long bao, which are fatty, soupy and delightful to slurp.
“The ratio is a perfect one-to-one of meat-to-soup,” Agbayani says. “We wanted it nice and juicy. The pork belly gave us a much softer texture than just ground pork.”
There are also Xi’an pork dumplings (a hybrid of recipes from Feng and Yu’s moms) that Agbayani garnishes with herbs, chilis and halved cherry tomatoes.
“It’s a little bit of California,” Agbayani says of the garnishes. “It adds another dimension to it.”
Beyond dumplings, Dumpling Time serves delightful Beijing noodles with pork, green onion, ginger and soybean paste. After consuming a dizzying number of dumplings before our noodles came, we were ready to mix things up. We put some chili sauce and some of the vinegar that came with our xiao long bao into our bowl of noodles. And then we slurped.