Hong Kong is a treasure trove of interesting finds — there’s nothing new about that. But beyond gargantuan shopping malls and shiny designer brands are an equally hard-working group of talented makers quietly reworking those humble — often overlooked — icons of the city. Made in Hong Kong turns a spotlight onto these local brands and catapults them onto your radar for your next inspired discovery.
Among the extensive range of Hong Kong’s foodie culture, the dumpling is probably one with deeper, personal meaning beyond a very versatile lunchtime option. To some, it’s a nostalgic memory in the kitchen with mum. To others, it’s the comforting taste of a faraway home. For Hong Kong-native Hailey Wong, founder of the homemade dumplings shop, Amaze Dumplings (家傳餃子), it’s the responsibility of carrying on familial traditions.
“Our name is “家傳餃子“ in Chinese. “傳” is also to mean “傳承” (to inherit) and that is my job to carry on my family’s and my own personal understanding of food,” Wong explains. “My dad and grandpa worked as chefs in Cantonese kitchens their entire lives, but they never encouraged me to be a chef or taught me anything about cooking since [I was] the youngest girl in the family — they wanted me to live an easier life.”
But as tradition would have it, Wong found her way into a kitchen anyway, beginning at culinary school in Hong Kong, and travelling further beyond for six years to learn and understand everything the global food culture could teach her outside of fancy stainless-steel kitchens.
“I started thinking about the way we use similar ingredients — how different cultures, regions and climates can shape them into completely different flavours,” she says. “The dumplings, or I will say flavours, that I’ve created started from my family, but carried on with my own experiences.”
You’ll find Amaze Dumplings through a quick browse on Instagram, or you might have chanced upon their brick and mortar pick-up post in Causeway Bay (a proper, dine-in restaurant, Wong reveals, is the dream). The menu is a rotating selection of freshly wrapped dumplings from the humble home-style wontons to the intricately folded pan-fried dumplings (餃子), and also a take on the popular dim sum har gow, all created in flavour palates inspired by the season. The latest addition being of a vegan Ratatouille dumpling for the summer, made from organic veggies sourced from a local farm with a bright, zesty profile.
Each and every one of the creative dumpling fillings are inspired by Wong’s own experiences; one, from her learnings of pairing complementing flavours, and two, of her own upbringing, where many dinners at home were put together with whatever produce of the season’s availability.
“Growing up in a chef’s family, there isn’t any fancy food, it’s all about following the season and using the freshest ingredients and cooking them in a simplest way,” says Wong.
From the picking and choosing of premium ingredients to showcasing specific flavours, each carefully wrapped parcel honours her culinary roots by being made entirely from scratch, including the marinated fillings and the kneading of the wafer-thin dumpling skin. (“It’s the simplest, borderless comfort food”, she says.)
And while she credits her perfectly round, rotund bites to being a product of passion, she also adds, “I do know how to make dumplings really fast; through practices and making hundreds of dumplings each day.”
Now, where to begin on Amaze Dumpling’s incredibly tempting menu? Mala chicken and chicken soft bone wonton (麻辣雞軟骨雞肉抄手) is the favourite. “It’s the most popular item,” Wong shares. “We never take it off the menu now.”