While fresh seafood and New American dishes dominate the menus at many North Fork restaurants, it is much harder to find authentic, high quality Cantonese cuisine in eastern Long Island.
So it made sense that when chef Rosa Ross opened Greenport’s Scrimshaw in 2004, the Asian-influenced waterside restaurant located on Preston’s Wharf, her hand-wrapped dumplings stuffed with homemade fillings quickly became the eatery’s most popular item.
“When I opened the restaurant, I thought I’d put them on the menu for a few weeks,” said the Hong Kong born culinary instructor and cookbook author. “They became our best seller. If I do 10 tables, eight will order dumplings.”
“Out here, you can’t get good dumplings,” she added.
Now Ross, along with veteran North Fork chef and Philadelphia native Greg Ling, plans to bring the dumplings to you.
The pair recently purchased a bright red 1963 Chevrolet truck and hopes to retrofit the vehicle into a dim sum-on-wheels venture they are calling the “Red Dumpling Truck.”
When completed, the truck, which will offer at least six types of dumplings along with skewers and bao bun sandwiches, will be available for private parties and will make appearances at East End wineries and festivals.
Expect ready-to-go items, like fish ball skewers, sold in snack stalls in the streets of Hong Kong.
“That’s the biggest street food in Hong Kong right now,” Ling said.
Last summer while Ling was staying with Ross, the pair first began talking about the business. Late at night, over bottles of Krug champagne, the idea was born.
“The thing about dumplings is that you can do whatever you want,” said Ling, who currently helms the kitchen at Greenport’s Industry Standard restaurant.
The truck itself, painted in Coca-Cola red (the luckiest color in Chinese culture) with the word Latino displayed along its side, was used for Coke commercials in Latin America, Ling said. And though it is in working condition, it needs about $50,000 worth renovations to install the proper accoutrements, plumbing and electrical system.
The pair have turned to crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com to help them achieve their goal. On Friday, more than $6,000 of their $30,000 target to help fund those costs had been raised. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo offers an option for participants to receive the funds even if their full goal is not met.
Part-time Southold residents Matilde Busana and Bronwyn Guthrie were the first to pledge support. Busana, who hails from Sydney, Australia, said she was happy to support the campaign, claiming that even Canal Street doesn’t compare with Ross.
“They are not as creative as Rosa’s,” she said of the varieties found in New York’s Chinatown. “The pastry is a little bit thicker — hers is lovely and light. It doesn’t sit like a brick in your stomach.”
Ling and Ross offered a sneak preview of the menu for a reporter at Ross’ East Marion home.
Among the offerings were pork belly bao buns — pork belly, pickled daikon, cucumber and carrot serve on a yeast buns — pork and rock shrimp wantons and, of course, dumplings stuffed with a pork, cabbage and onion mixture served alongside a spicy sesame oil-based dipping sauce.
Ross demonstrated the proper way to wrap the tiny treats, stressing the importance of using the right dough.
“The correct wrapper for the correct filling is very, very, important,” Ross said.
To make a donation to the campaign, click here.