Food & Drink

These Dumplings Don’t Sleep

Check out this ‘Seattle-style’ dim sum

By Naomi Tomky June 20, 2024

A dim sum steamer basket at Seattle Dumpling House

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

In a city that very much does sleep, in a not particularly dense neighborhood, David Ponce and Nikki Tran opened an unlikely business in early May: a late-night dumpling shop. 

Seattle Dumpling House opens for delivery (through third-party apps) and takeout each night at 11 p.m., well after most restaurant kitchens in the city have shut down for the evening. “You gotta be crazy to do restaurants and food,” Ponce says. “You gotta be doubly crazy to hustle orders out at 3:55 in the morning.”

Owner David Ponce with a late-night dumpling enthusiast at Seattle Dumpling House.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Dumpling House

 

Both veterans of the local restaurant industry, the pair grew frustrated with the meals they could find after getting off shifts — mostly fast food. They knew it was a problem for others with odd hours, too, including hospital staff and construction workers. “We were thinking about what we can do to give options to people,” Ponce says. “We both love dumplings.”

Ponce grew up in Los Angeles, eating dim sum on weekends, and both took inspiration from what Ponce called Seattle’s “OG late-night spots,” like Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant, Purple Dot Café, and Honey Court Seafood Restaurant in the Chinatown-International District. “Late night dim sum hits different,” Ponce says. “Getting sui mai and coconut water at two in the morning.”

They call their mix of foods inspired by Southeast Asian and Chinese food “Seattle-style dim sum,” and it includes “Garden of Eden” vegetarian dumplings in a Thai-style yellow curry, pork and bok choi “Jade Wontons,” and honey walnut prawns. 

Clockwise from top left: Spicy Phở Lửa Harmony Bowl, Gua Bao, Savory Jade Wontons, and Garden of Eden Dumplings

Photo courtesy of Seattle Dumpling House

The reception was even more excited and enthusiastic than they expected, Ponce says. Delivery apps allow them to extend their audience to much of North Seattle, as far as Wedgwood and Shoreline, helping make the business feasible. While their current space has no seating, the surprising volume of customers already has them starting to look for a second location that would allow people to sit down and eat. But the hours would remain the same, Ponce says, adding, “late nights are here to stay.”

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