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Happy Dumplings: make your tummy smile

The Happy couple exchanging buns.
The Happy couple exchanging buns.
A. Tsao

Warm, tummy-satisfying dumplings are just the trick on a cold, cloudy San Francisco day. In fact, sprinkle some yummy flavors in there and you've got yourself one amazing snack: a happy dumpling!

Dumpling delight! Happy Dumplings assortment of flavors.
A. Tsao

Husband-and-wife duo, James Kerson and Shuhui Jiang, are the masterminds behind, and owners of, the Happy Dumplings stands. With gigs at various farmers' market stands throughout the Bay Area, as well as a spot at Friday night's Off the Grid, Happy Dumplings is one happy snack you don't want to miss!

What makes these particular Chinese snacks so amazing is the fact that they are not really potstickers. So potstickers fans looking to get a good potsticker may be sorely disappointed, or pleasantly surprised. In many cases, both. "Sometimes people get mad, [saying] potstickers don't have thick skin," James jokingly shares. "So I'm [probably] gonna write a little notice, saying what they are, so people don't get all bent out of shape."

The pan-fried phenomenon is actually what's known in Chinese cuisine as "shui jian bao", a type of water-fried bun. Made with a rising dough, the dumpling skin steams into a pillowy, soft texture that the traditional potsticker skins lack. Happy Dumplings' particular shui jian bao comes from the cuisine style of the Shandong province (Jiang's home state), a heavily European-influenced part of China.

Some of the flavors are standard Chinese fare, but some are original creations by the owners. The Vegetarian and the Cilantro Chicken are house originals, which also happen to be the most popular menu items sold by Happy Dumplings. The food is always made from scratch, on-site, to keep the freshness of the items.

Before Happy Dumplings made its signature mark on Bay Area street food with its potsticker-style buns, the owners tried a plethora of other food items, such as lamb kabobs, fishballs, and steamed buns, but to no avail. The couple also owned a restaurant, of which they sold to focus their full-time energies on the Happy Dumplings stands.

Kerson and his wife plan to take the operation up a few notches by securing a warehouse to manufacture the buns and hopefully turn them into ready-prepared frozen packaging that can be enjoyed by consumers at home. James says, "I have to figure out a way to [keep the fluffy texture], once they're frozen, and maybe possibly sell them frozen here (at the stands) and maybe try to get [the buns] into some [retail] markets."

Watch for the Happy Dumplings food truck to come!

Happy Dumplings items (depending on popularity and location):

Cilantro & Chicken dumpling (house original), Chive & Pork dumpling, Cabbage & Pork dumpling, Vegetarian dumpling (house original), Green Onion Pancake, Wonton Soup (Stonestown only), Fennel & Pork (seasonal only)

Happy Dumplings locations:

Fridays: Off the Grid, Fort Mason

Saturdays: Hayward Farmers' Market

Sundays: Fort Mason Farmers' Market & Stonestown Farmers' Market

More information or Twitter updates can be found at:!/happydumplings


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