When Helen You opened her first restaurant, a tiny dumpling stand in Flushing’s Golden Mall, she was nervous and uncertain about how many customers she’d attract with her three types of homemade dumplings. While she had a deep childhood connection to this food, You had spent most of her adult life working in corporate accounting, and this stand was the first step towards her dream of being her own boss.
At the end of that day, You had a few hundred dollars in her hand and a few hundred ideas for what to do next. She assiduously collected feedback from her customers, Chinese American locals who let her know what was good, what was missing, and what could be better. Her stand attracted first-timers, then loyalists, then an increasingly international clientele who took to the freshness of her ingredients and the inventive flavors tucked inside every dumpling served.
After just a few years, You’s dumpling stand has become a Flushing mainstay, and her full-service restaurant, Dumpling Galaxy, is a critic’s darling. Offering dozens of varieties of boiled, steamed, and fried dumpling for every conceivable course, the restaurant is a showcase for You’s impulse to invent. Highlights include juicy lamb dumplings with pickled vegetables, pork-and-shrimp-and-egg dumplings made whole by the addition of fresh chopped garlic chives, and dessert dumplings that contain no fewer than seven types of sweets and nuts. You has developed over 100 dumpling recipes since that first day in the Golden Mall, and while the flavor combinations may be innovative, every new recipe appeals to the simple joy of hiding a celebration inside a comfort food.
© Photos by Max Falkowitz.
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