Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.
The Truck: Happy Dumplings
The Cuisine: Traditional and house style dumplings from the Shandong Province in China
Specialty Items: Dumplings
Worth the Wait in Line? At peak time, a total 3 minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.
You've gotta love the simplicity of the concept of Happy Dumplings, which serves nothing but fat little dumplings, crisp fried on a few sides and pan-steamed everywhere else.
The handmade dumplings may remind you of pot stickers because of the cooking method, but that's where the similarities end. The handmade dough is based on a low-gluten wheat flour that rises in the pan, giving it a puffy exterior rather than chew.
The dumplings, about the size of a lime, come stuffed with a variety of fillings, like customer favorites Cabbage & Pork ($1.50 each or $4 for three) and Chicken & Cilantro ($1.50 each or $4 for three), but it was the Vegetarian ($1.50 each or $4 for three; glass noodles, carrot, dried mushroom) that got us back in line.
The vegetarian dumpling gets a dose of savoriness from the mushrooms in the filling, great texture from the glass noodles, and light crunch from the bits of carrot that compliment the crisp dough. Which brings us to the dough: It's something between a steamed bun and pot sicker wrapper, puffy, with a little chew and awesome caramelized, crisped edges. The vegetarian dumplings also have enough fat from the cooking that the black vinegar and hot sauce at the condiment station won't overwhelm them, nor do they seem unsubstantial.
Smartly, at Happy Dumplings you can mix and match from all the varieties on the menu to find your favorite kind, but it works just as well if you just go with one. Either way you'll be happy with dumplings.