Meet the "Dumpling King" making Chinese-Vancouver dumplings from scratch

May 14 2021, 3:04 pm

Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.

One of the best parts about travelling to other countries is the food.

Seeking out and tasting the different styles and flavours of food isn’t just delicious, but a great way to immerse yourself into a culture. Even when travelling is basically impossible during the pandemic, we long to find authentically created dishes to instantly transport us to that very same feeling. Right here in Vancouver, we have that opportunity with The Dumpling King.

In 2016, Matthew Murtagh-Wu founded The Dumpling King to create authentic food that represents who he is, where he comes from, and the cultures that influence Vancouver.

Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946, like local food creators. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses and artists, we talked to Matthew Murtagh-Wu, about his passion for food and the customers that love it. 

My business is mandated on sourcing as many ingredients as it can from the old Chinese vendors of Vancouver’s Chinatown and, through the mind of a mixed-race Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur/cook, create something both new and traditional,” Murtagh-Wu told Daily Hive.

“All my dumplings are handmade, the old school way out of Coho Commissary in East Van. My food can be found in a growing list of vendors and online delivery services throughout the Lower Mainland,” he added.

This process of locally sourcing ingredients and hand making everything definitely makes for a uniquely delicious product, but it does more than that. It does more for the community, and Murtagh-Wu hopes people connect with that aspect as well.

Who I am, the brand, and ethos has evolved and changed over time,” said Murtagh-Wu.

“I want my clients to think of me and what I value when they buy and eat my food. I hope they can have a sense of connection to me and each other through food.”

What the business has meant to Murtagh-Wu, and what he wants it to mean for other people, certainly has changed. Adaptation is key for any great entrepreneur, but maintaining your values is as well. Things evolve, but the core tenants of focus have stayed the same.

At its core is the need to engage and explore food on as many levels as I personally can – commercially, philosophically, culturally, socially, and through my community,” said Murtagh-Wu.

It’s through these beliefs that Murtagh-Wu has found success, and plenty of it in four years. The Dumpling King is a great model to look to for every starting food business out there right now, especially in Vancouver as pop-ups work out of rented spaces and ghost kitchens. Murtagh-Wu was there once himself, and is happy to share some wisdom on where to start.

Keep it simple,” he said.

“Find something or some things that excite you and make it uniquely yours. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but make it your way and your style. Elaborate. Only you can figure that out and no one else. This advice may be abstract, maybe even vague or cliche, but keeping things simple and being endlessly enthusiastic about a product or service you offer will see you through the tough times. It can’t help but rub off on your customers when they recognize that in you,” Murtagh-Wu added.

Murtagh-Wu knows what he can do for The Dumpling King. He knows what he wants to try and do for the food scene in Vancouver. He also knows exactly where to attribute his success.

“All my customers!” Murtagh-Wu said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have a business. I’d just be yelling into the wind with all the competitors in the food business. It’s very saturated,” he added.

The gratitude he has for his customers isn’t only because they are faithful, but because they understand what he’s trying to do. It takes special people in return to see the value in what The Dumpling King is doing, and many customers seem do.

If you believe there is value in celebrating your cultures, being the odd-man out, and engaging with your local food community/producers/ecosystem — then I think you might see something in me and my business worth believing in,” Murtagh-Wu told us.

An amazing and loyal customer base comes from treating them right and providing a great product. It serves your business in the best of times, and when they get tough — like during a global pandemic. Murtagh-Wu knows what he’s tried to do during a difficult year.

Remaining relevant in the eyes of the consumer when I cannot throw events and moving from a direct to consumer model to a wholesale one,” he said.

If you’ve already tried The Dumpling King, you’re likely a loyal customer. If you haven’t, be sure to check it out, support local, and remember what Murtagh-Wu stands for. It also wouldn’t hurt to know what the most popular dish on the menu is for your first order.

JWB Pork Belly & Scallion Dumplings and Taiwnese Style Guo Tie,” said Murtagh.

This content was created by Daily Hive’s editorial team independently, with financial support from a sponsor.
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