There’s always something compelling about food sold from little street carts, and despite the many challenges that street food cooking can have, I’m always astonished by how good the food from some street vendors can be (taco trucks are a particularly good example). And, for any given pedestrian mall, you can usually find some yummy treats out there.
Burlington’s Church Street is no exception. In particular, for the last several years I’ve made it a point to visit Hong’s Chinese Dumpling every time I’m shopping on Church Street.
Hong’s Chinese Dumplings is a little stand, usually located in front of the Borders on the north end of Church Street. The owner, Hong, sells spring rolls, fried rice, and dumplings, and has been doing so for quite a while (since ’04, at least, and probably a lot longer than that).
For me, the dumplings are the real attraction, since she’s literally making them to order in the cart (she’s got a miniature rolling pin and is constantly rolling out little circles of dough and tossing the completed dumplings into the steamer, and then frying them). The dumplings don’t look like much, but are really, really good (shown here), with a really good crisped exterior around a wonderfully flavorful interior. There are a wide variety of kinds to choose from, including chicken and pork, veggie, crab and all sorts that feature cream cheese (which I don’t care for, hot cream cheese has a texture I dislike). These little gems sell for a buck apiece, with a discount for larger orders (I think it’s 6 for $5). She also has a nice variety of sauces, including red chili oil and mustard sauces. The result is one of the best dumplings I can regularly find.
However, the proof that Hong has got it dialed in is the crowds. At any given time, there’s usually a good 20 people lined up waiting for her dumplings (the photo here sans crowds is an old one from ’06, right after a rainstorm). It’s wonderful people watching, since many of the Church Street regulars seem addicted to the dumplings, with all sorts of small crowds huddled around little bowls of dumplings like junkies looking for a fix.