Helen You, the owner of the Tianjin Dumpling House and the Dumpling Galaxy in Flushing, New York, said:
“Twenty years ago, with the mindset for freedom, I came to the United States”.
Helen You, who was originally from Tianjin, China, is an expert at making dumplings in the highly competitive New York City restaurant scene. She believes in the recipe of a thin skin wrapper with abundant filling.
“The big difference in my dumplings as compared to others is that every single dumpling is hand-made to order. Hand-made dumplings taste different; machine-made dumplings are tasteless and have particularly thick skin wrapper”.
In the late 1980s, Helen came to the United States to study, and later became a international tax analyst in Manhattan before changing careers paths to make noodles and dumplings.
“I often went to Flushing for groceries and found that there were not many Northern hand-made dumplings. I love to make dumplings and do it quite well. I also had lots of ideas, so I decided to leave my job and to become my own boss.
On opening day of the Tianjin Dumpling House, I sold less than 500 dumplings. In the beginning, I did not earn much money, but I continue to put all of my effort into it.”
At that time, she foresaw the potential for a big Western market, and with the advantage of being able to speak good English, Helen carved out a niche by offering more than 100 different types of dumplings at her second and grander restaurant, the Dumpling Galaxy.
“Westerners love to eat dumplings, which they find amazing. With each dumpling, people do not know what is inside, but when they bite into one, they feel the taste. This is unlike any other food where the ingredients are placed on the surface for everyone to see, hence, there is a feeling of curiosity.
Customers come as far as Florida, the United Kingdom, and Germany to the Dumpling Galaxy to taste my dumplings, and it has become a tourist attraction”.
As word spread of the dumplings at her two restaurants in Flushing, New York, publishing companies knocked on her door to invite her to write a dumpling cookbook and to introduce this traditional northern Chinese cuisine to all of America.
Translated by Chua, B.C.