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VA: Dumpling Love in Hampton Roads

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My trolley-cart adventures 🥟

San Francisco, 2002

In the early 2000s, I first experienced a Hong Kong-style trolley cart restaurant, and from that moment, I sought them out wherever I was. My journey began at Yank Sing in San Francisco, home to the oldest Chinese community in the US. Opened in 1958, I ended up visiting it twenty years ago as an intrepid and young foodie.

Credit @ the family behind San Francisco’s Yank Sing

On a road trip to visit my cousin at Berkeley (I was studying in LA at the time), I decided to try Yank Sing, which I had heard about on the now-defunct Chowhound chat forum (the home of foodies back in the day!).

I was mesmerized by the trolleys filled with dim sum, including shu mai, pork buns, and the revered Shanghai dumplings, 'xiao long bao'. Though I have no pictures from those early days, the experience is etched in my memory.

Today, Yank Sing is a Michelin Bib Gourmand and James Beard award winner. Over the years, I tried to replicate that first trolley cart experience in places like New World and Leong’s Legend in London, and on trips to Hong Kong. Sadly, many have ceased trolley cart service due to the impact of Covid.

Credit Instagram @yanksing

Coastal Virginia, 2024

Last week, after years of waiting, I discovered Jade Villa in Virginia Beach, a trolley cart restaurant. We arrived at midday to a bustling scene with a queue already formed out of the door.

Sharing a table with Chinese-American neighbors, we excitedly discussed the merits of various dishes as trolleys rolled by. The fun of trying new dishes, ogling plates go by and the communal dining experience made it truly special.

Jade Villa’s trolley cart

Will I go back? Absolutely!

Do I encourage you to find a trolley cart restaurant where you live or travel? Yes, I do!

Trolley carts are full of possibilities. They let you try new dishes without commiting to them. They open your eyes to new fillings, flavours and fun.

Need help finding a trolley-cart restaurant near you? Or have a recommendation for your fellow readers, then please reach out.

Where to find Jade Villa? Click here

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