Vegan food in London gets a Cantonese twist: say hello to dumplings made by the former graphic designer and her Hong Kong chef father

“I prefer to be standing outside, moving around and talking to people and I found it very difficult to sit at a computer all the time,” she says. “I wanted to leave and get into the hotel business, where I grew up. and it’s much more interesting for me.

Chantel Yeung, founder of Chubby Dumpling, and her father, Joseph Yeung Wai-hung, in their converted fire truck. Photo: Chubby Dumplings

Yeung spent much of his youth in the Chinese restaurant his Hong Kong-born father owned in Salisbury, southern England.

She and her two siblings “grew up being very involved” in the business and would go away during summer vacations to help with tasks such as “folding napkins and putting chopsticks in holders,” she says .

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“We always ate there and spent every Sunday together, which is my father’s day off during the week.

“He would make us dim sum and wontons, and I loved them so much when I was a kid that he started calling me a ‘chubby dumpling,’” she said with a laugh.

“I was a little fat kid.”

Joseph Yeung prepares ravioli dough. Photo: Chubby Dumplings

After 31 years running the restaurant, Joseph Yeung Wai-hung retired and started making dumplings.

“He was so excited and talking about opening another restaurant, so I convinced him to start a small business with me,” Yeung says.

“I thought a street food van would be less hectic than going to another restaurant full time.

I don’t think he’ll ever be able to retire completely. He just needed a change, but he’s classic Hong Kong – he grew up working and wants to work all the time.

Chantel Yeung

Thus, the childhood nickname that the father gave to his daughter carried over into her adult business: in 2018, she bought a fire truck from 1992 and transformed it a year later into a van food she named Chubby Dumpling to serve her favorite childhood dishes – handmade by her father. – in front of crowds all over London.

During the first year, Yeung maintained his design job while running the food van two to three days a week in different markets.

She became full-time in 2020 as Chubby Dumpling began receiving more event catering requests.

Yeung makes dumplings. Photo: Chubby Dumplings

Now the van appears at the same London markets almost every weekend: Saturday at Brockley Market and Sunday at Victoria Park Market. “Sometimes we had office lunches during the week, but it’s mostly events, festivals and work parties, especially in the summer. It’s fun to go to different places,” Yeung says.

Chubby Dumpling has appeared in places such as the Natural History Museum, Formula One car races, music festivals and even a Nike shoe launch event.

Since cooking space in a van is limited, Chubby Dumpling’s menu is limited to dumplings and noodles, with the three dumpling options being pork, chicken and mushroom, and vegan. Sometimes there will also be a special dish, depending on “what dad is making,” like shrimp and bamboo shoot dumplings, Yeung says.

“My father knew we needed to make vegan dumplings to meet the needs of the Western market, but since he didn’t normally eat, vegan food and his way of cooking always used meat for flavor, it was not easy to test a recipe.
Yeung and his father make dumplings together. After 31 years running the restaurant, Joseph Yeung retired and started making dumplings. Photo: Chubby Dumplings

Her English mother, on the other hand, has a more Western palate and was able to help the father-daughter duo co-create a vegan recipe with pan-Asian flavors. Vegan toppings include satay-flavored butternut squash and shiitake mushrooms.

Yeung reveals that “it took a long time to make delicious vegan dumplings,” but once they did, the dumplings became extremely popular with Londoners following a plant-based diet.

“Every restaurant in London has to offer some sort of vegan food, so it’s about finding options that don’t taste like pureed vegetables,” says Yeung.

The food truck is currently catering to people working on the sets of production companies such as Pinewood Studios and Warner Brothers. Because meals are prepaid with a fixed headcount, which typically ranges from 100 to 600 people, there is little waste at the end of the day.

Customers queue to buy from Chubby Dumpling in London. Photo: Chubby Dumplings
On February 6 and 7, the duo will host their first physical pop-up, offering an exclusive Lunar New Year menu, in a London restaurant. “These are more complete dishes composed mainly of fish and seafood, including lobsterscallops and beef cheeks, which my father likes to eat,” Yeung says.

Limited tickets for the two-day pop-up went on sale on January 12 and were sold out within 10 minutes. Yeung told the Post that she “wasn’t sure what to expect” as she had never organized an event of this nature, but she is happy to see how well Londoners responded to Chubby Dumpling.

She adds: “My dad really likes to come up with new menus, so I want to see how that goes and see if we should do more.” It’s nice to have a bit of variety, especially as we have to be indoors in this English winter weather.

Yeung and his father pose with their Chubby Dumpling food truck. Photo: Chubby Dumplings

As for his father, who was supposed to retire from the hotel business but now makes dumplings full time, Yeung says, “I don’t think he will ever be able to retire completely. He just needed a change because he’s been running this restaurant for 31 years, but he’s a classic Hong Konger: he grew up working and he wants to work all the time.

“It’s his strong work ethic and his mentality to always do something.”

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