When Sen Mao booked a one-way flight from Beijing to Seattle, he knew his studies had paid off. Mao was on his way to study electrical engineering at the University of Washington. But before he left, he knew he had one more thing to learn—cooking. Instead of doing what most of us did for dinner in college (cereal, sandwiches, and takeout), Mao studied the culinary flavors of China from an expert to get his cooking certification. During this course he learned how to prepare two of his favorite dishes: dumplings and noodles.
Mao worked in the Seattle restaurant scene throughout college, and when he graduated, he opened his own restaurant to refocus on his two favorites. Enter Dumpling The Noodle, Wallingford’s incredibly satisfying Chinese cuisine.
“I really missed the taste of my hometown, the authentic flavors of northern China,” Mao said. “So I decided to switch from stir-fries like I made in college to dumplings and noodles.”
Mao has two types of noodles on his menu: lamen and rice noodles, both handmade.
“Lamen noodles are hand-pulled, chewy flower noodles,” Mao explained. “By hand-pulling them, we make the noodles very tough, which is very different from making them by machine.”
When it comes to his noodles, Mao said the most popular dish is the chili beef lamen. Or make it even better with the spicy and sour beef lamen soup.
As for the other house specialty, dumplings, Mao said there are usually two ways to prepare them: fry or steam. But Dumpling The Noodle does them in a different style. Mao uses his mother’s method: frying in a pan. This method is a perfect marriage of the two, producing a dumpling that’s perfectly crispy and fried on the bottom, with a soft and steamed top.
“That way, when you eat, you have two kinds of textures,” Mao said.
The classic pork cabbage dumplings top the bestseller list at Dumpling The Noodle, with the bulgogi beef dumplings not to be missed.
It’s no secret that this place can crimp incredible dumplings to perfection and hand-pull phenomenal noodles, but there’s something else on the menu that’s worth noting. Mao and the team have devoted almost half of the menu to vegan options.
“It can be really difficult to find vegan Chinese food in Seattle, so we wanted to change that,” Mao said.
With highlights like chili the garlic tofu lamen and bok choy mushroom dumplings, vegans will love Dumpling The Noodle. The vegan dishes are often the seasonal stars of the menu, such as the new aubergine and Brussels sprouts dumplings.
In its new, larger space on the corner of 45th and Wallingford, Dumpling The Noodle has spacious booths that Mao says are designed for groups.
“We want to stay as family-friendly as possible and not have small tables that get crowded,” Mao said.
Don’t have time to eat? Dumpling The Noodle sells frozen dumplings to enjoy at home, with an accompanying how-to YouTube video of Mao showing us how to pan-fry dumplings to perfection.
As for the name, Mao said it was just something funny that came to his mind.
“It kind of doesn’t make sense, but I turned ‘dumpling’ into a verb to get people’s attention,” he said.
Consider us caught up in these dumplings and noodles, showcasing some of northern China’s finest flavors and textures.
Dumpling The Noodle is located at 1723 N 45th St. in Wallingford and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Visit the restaurant’s website for opening times, online orders for pickup or delivery, and reservations.
Lauren Allain is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. You can connect with her here.