Sandy Vuong - Dumpling Inn

Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! Our special guest today is Sandy Vuong from Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon. Dumpling Inn was one of the first restaurants in San Diego to offer xiao long bao, Chinese soup dumplings. Sandy’s family also owns Minh Ky, a beloved Chinese restaurant in City Heights. Sandy moved to Orange County to study at UC Irvine, and after graduating she moved back to San Diego to become co-owner of Dumpling Inn. The restaurant moved right next door from its original spot on Convoy Street to a bigger space. They’ve been there ever since, and just opened back up for dine-in.

Sandy chats with us about what it’s been like to reopen the restaurant for indoor dining at a limited capacity. As a restaurateur, dealing with angry customers is always a difficult but necessary part of the job, and she shares that unfortunately it’s not any better under the new pandemic restrictions. However, she and her staff have been making a real effort to enforce the mask-wearing and social distancing rules. Sandy says they’ve been able to set up outdoor seating in their parking lot in the meantime, and that some newly added street parking in the neighborhood has helped bring more customers to the area.

As for their other family-owned restaurant, Minh Ky, which has been around for 18 years, Sandy prides it on using fresh ingredients and her father’s recipes—still not written down, of course. When her father approached her about taking over Dumpling Inn, she was hesitant until she met the original owners and heard their vision. After that, she was sold, and luckily, it ended up being an amazing change.

Looking to the future, Sandy hopes that customers can appreciate the whole dining experience when all the rules and restrictions go away. One of their mottos is “from our family to yours,” and they really believe that when customers are dining in with them. She tells us about the current struggles of dealing with third-party delivery apps, to-go orders, and contact tracing, and hopes that people can understand and appreciate the level of service they can get when they are able to dine in again.

For Hot Plates, Burger Lounge launched a plant-based test kitchen and expanded the menu at their Hillcrest and Del Mar locations to include vegan dishes. There are now plant-based options for their popular burgers, vegan cheeses and sauces, and cashew-based dairy-free milkshakes. We also have some beer news! Dozens of local brewers won awards at the San Diego International Beer Competition, the largest of its kind in the region. This year, the awards ceremony was done via Zoom; Rouleur Brewing Company in Carlsbad won Best in Show for their Domestique Blonde Ale, and Eppig Brewing won for their special lager. For some lighthearted national news, a recent map came out that shows which Halloween candy is the most popular in every state. California’s favorite is the Crunch bar, our neighbors in Oregon and Arizona picked Reese's Pieces and Mr. Goodbar, respectively, and Vermont went with Tootsie Pop. And Florida picked Airheads…no comment.

For Two People for $50 / Two People for Takeout, Sandy’s seafood cravings typically take her to Submarine Crab or Bluewater Grill. Marie’s pick was also seafood: Kikos Seafood Lunch Truck in Mission Valley, especially on Tuesdays for their three fish tacos for $5 deal. Troy recommends Station Tavern over in South Park if you’re looking for good burgers and good beer. David took us on a little tour of North County, first with The Confessional by The Lost Abbey for some ales and a coupon for a slice of pizza at East Coast Pizza right next door, then down to Cardiff Seaside Market for their famous tri-tip, or “Cardiff Crack,” to take home and cook. I joined this week with some all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque from Manna BBQ.

 

Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Do you have a question for Troy? Need a recommendation for takeout? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at happyhalfhour@sdmag.com.

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