Parkside dumpling lovers were devastated when Rebecca Yu and her father closed their family’s eight-year-old Taraval Street dumpling and noodle restaurant, Dumpling Kitchen, in January, so that he could retire. But for Paul Yu, 65, that retirement got boring fast — and fortunately for him and fans of his pan-fried sheng jian bao dumplings, Rebecca had a plan: A smaller restaurant space she’d leased without a clear use for it, partly in case Paul changed his mind. That’s now open with the same menu as the old Dumpling Kitchen, but a new name: Dumpling Specialist.
Located at at 1123 Taraval Street in a former nail salon with just four tables, Dumpling Specialist is a serious downsize. But that’s a good thing, says Rebecca, for whom keeping kitchen and wait staff at Dumpling Kitchen was difficult. “I always wanted something smaller, it’s easier to manage,” she says.
Now she and her dad can run the whole, postage-stamp sized operation by themselves. The new location is also remodeled and up-to-date, versus the larger and aging previous space at 1935 Taraval.
But there’s some confusion on that front: After Dumpling Kitchen closed, Yu sold the old business to new owners, who have reopened it under the same name. The new Dumpling Kitchen has roughly the same menu, but the Yu family hopes that fans of the old Dumpling Kitchen will seek them out at Dumpling Specialist despite the new name (and relative lack of seating).
If anything, says Rebecca, the food at Dumpling Specialist has improved: Paul is making all the noodle soups himself, which he couldn’t before, due to volume. “Everything comes from his hands,” says Rebecca.
Dumpling Specialist is now open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily — hours that are more favorable for Paul in his older age. “My dad was getting really tired [at Dumpling Kitchen] working 7 to 10 hours a day, and it was hurting me to see him work so much,” says Rebecca.
Now, with reduced work and hours, they’re able to keep up with demand more comfortably — and they’re happy to see some of those old regulars again.