Boston’s Chinatown knows Xuehua Gong for her homemade traditional Chinese dumplings, but Cambridge now has a place of its own featuring her famous sweet and savory wontons.
Gong, 58, opened the doors of the Dumpling House, her new business venture at 950 Massachusetts Ave., just two months ago. As the head chef, she leads the kitchen, and her son, Adam Bing, 32, who is the proprietary, is in charge of management.
Together, they have drawn in familiar faces from the renowned Gourmet Dumpling House, Gong’s first business, as well as folks from out of state, they say.
Sitting in the dining area of their new restaurant, Bing translated as his mother spoke in Mandarin about the Chinese food industry in the U.S. and the secret behind her success.
Q: Your family has a well-known, successful restaurant in Boston. Why did you decide to open the Dumpling House in Cambridge?
A: Chinatown is very small. She wanted a bigger restaurant. The customers have to wait at that restaurant. There’s a long line every day. She wanted a more calm (place). She said she is old already. She said she has some American friends, and she said she wants to serve as many American friends as possible.
Q: Cambridge is known for its competitive restaurant scene. How do you think the Dumpling House will stand out?
A: Firstly, I think our food is different from other restaurants, like the dumplings. Also, we have some very famous Szechuan spicy dishes. And the food my mom cooks tastes differently from the other restaurants. That’s why Gourmet Dumpling House is well known in Chinatown. She started cooking in 1975 in China.
Q: Where did you learn to cook? Did you learn by yourself or did you attend culinary school?
A: She went to cooking school. She was 19 years old. After graduation, she went to a restaurant and worked there for like 10 years. Then, she worked in other restaurants. She used to work in a very big restaurant in China and then she came here. She is also a first-grade chef in China — the highest honor in China. She is the only female chef here, in Chinatown.
Q: What about working in the kitchen captivates you?
A: She said she has loved cooking since she was a kid. When she came here she said the American food is totally different from Chinese food. Even the Chinese food here is different from China. That’s why she wanted to bring some authentic food from China to here.
Q: Do you find that the Chinese food here is Americanized? Do they use different products, or do they change the recipes to cater to the American palate?
A: Yes, she said it’s different. She said people here usually use sauces. It’s more like fast food, but in China, you take a lot of time to cook. When you cook, you make the stuff by yourself, no pre-made sauce.
Q: What’s your signature dish?
A: The Slice Fish Szechuan Style. It has different spices. It’s not too spicy; it’s mild. Also, it’s more like a soup style.
Q: You are famous for your dumplings. What makes them so special?
A: We’re from Shandong, Qingdao. Shandong is the providence known for their dumplings. Everybody knows how to make dumplings. Also, my mom said the dumplings are very fresh and handmade. It’s different from the ones from people that are here. The recipe is different.
Q: Anything else?
A: She said we welcome our friends from different countries, and hope you like the Chinese food.
For information, visit Dumpling House at 950 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, or call 617-661-8066.