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Dining on a Dime: Hong's Chinese Dumplings


Published September 10, 2021 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated December 7, 2021 at 3:55 p.m.

Hong Yu of Hong's Chinese Dumplings - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Hong Yu of Hong's Chinese Dumplings
Things were bustling at Hong's Chinese Dumplings in Burlington on Friday around noon.

A longtime local fan had brought his parents who were visiting from Atlanta. A   family of five had driven to Burlington from Pennsylvania, they said, primarily to visit Hong's.  I had driven seven minutes from the suburbs to see how well I could eat for $12.

Hong's came through for us all.

My order of a scallion pancake ($6) plus a pork and sausage bao ($6) was more than enough to satisfy my craving for salty, sweet, soft and crispy.  The pancake was blistered crunchy and flecked with sesame seeds.  The large, plump steamed bao bun was filled with a rich, chunky mix of sausage, braised pork and soft, sweet onion.
Scallion pancake and pork and sausage bao - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Scallion pancake and pork and sausage bao
There are a number of ways to create a Dining on a Dime $12 meal at Hong's. You could sub in three dumplings for one of my two choices and still come in on budget. Or, you could go for six dumplings for $12.

If you bring a friend, you could split the cucumber salad ($10.95) and an order of six dumplings and have enough left to buy a small container of Hong's addictive chile dipping oil ($1).

I'm a fan of Hong's pork dumplings and her chicken and cheese dumplings that caused Food Network's Guy Fieri to raise his eyebrows when he came to visit for an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri."

It is likely thanks to Fieri that the Pennsylvania family was at Hong's. They heard about it online, they said. "We saw a video," Farley Kaiser recalled. "Top ten things to eat in Burlington or something like that," said her husband, Blake Kaiser.

The couple and their three kids — Avery, 12; Lane, 10; and Mily, 8 — are working their way through every state in America. Vermont is their 37th, they said, and their last on the East coast.

The Kaisers are professional chefs and affirmed that they truly came to Vermont to eat at Hong's. They also squeezed in a professionally shot family photo session at Shelburne Farms, and Blake has a skydiving session scheduled.

The Kaiser offspring were looking forward to the full-menu order they had placed: dumplings, scallion pancakes, bao,  sesame noodles and pork fried rice.

"The kids of two chefs are not able to be picky eaters," their mom said with a laugh.

Hong's is open right now for takeout with limited hours Friday through Sunday due to the pandemic, owner Hong Yu said from behind the counter while rolling and filling dumplings. She doesn't anticipate extending hours until COVID-19 case numbers subside again. "I'm getting old, you know?" Yu said.

A beloved Queen City figure, Yu served up thousands of dumplings from the cart she operated on the Church Street Marketplace for 17 years. With crowdfunding support, she opened her brick-and-mortar spot on Pearl Street in fall 2017.
Barely 30 minutes after we met at Hong's, Farley Kaiser sent me a detailed review of the meal via email. It was full of words like "juicy," "crispy," "fluffy," and "flavorful." All in all, "well worth the seven-hour drive from West Grove, Pa.!" she wrote. "I hope the locals can appreciate the gem they have right in their city."

From someone who drove seven minutes, I can assure her that we most certainly do.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: [email protected].

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