Got Dumplings — Serving delicious Chinese food since 2011

Co-owner of popular food truck shares her passion for the business

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The food truck “Got Dumplings” is owned by Phung Huynh and her sister Kynnie Wong. 

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Every weekday from around 10:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., a long line of students winds around the Amphitheater to buy what have become staples in the diets of many University students — delicious fried dumplings and an assortment of tasty side dishes like cold peanut flavored noodles and fried rice. 

The food truck “Got Dumplings” is owned by Phung Huynh and her sister Kynnie Wong. The pair began the business in 2011 during renovations to Newcomb Dining Hall. Wong had previously worked with the food service company Aramark, which contacted the sisters for help in developing a dumpling truck that would provide food for students during the Newcomb renovations. The sisters created a menu of authentically-prepared Chinese dumplings and side dishes for their new truck.  

Huynh and Wong are Chinese, but immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in the 1980s. Huynh says she developed a passion for food during her childhood. 

“[Wong and I have] been growing up with food,” Huynh said. “I mean I worked in a restaurant  … [my mom] was the best chef … so that’s how I trained myself to love food.”

Huynh’s childhood experience taught her to detect subtle differences in flavors. She uses this skill to continuously improve and perfect the menu at Got Dumplings.

Aside from her love of food, Huynh enjoys working in food service because of the challenge it presents. She likes being active and constantly working to improve the business model and the menu. 

“Every year we change,” Huynh said. “We added [vegetable tofu dumplings] because we realized there were a lot of vegetarians.” 

Serving food at the University is also particularly gratifying for Huynh because she attended the University herself and is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce.  

Huynh says that although its growth has leveled off in recent years, Got Dumplings is a profitable business. Rather than just making a profit, however, she feels that most of her satisfaction comes from seeing customers enjoy the food.  

“[A student told me] ‘I miss my family’s food back in China and then so whenever I eat here and eat your dumplings it reminds me of my family’,” Huynh said. “So it was a good compliment, how [our food] reminds them of home.”

Although most of the truck’s business comes from students, faculty and University employees also regularly eat at Got Dumplings, including some of the professors that taught Huynh when she was a student. Huynh estimates that around 500 people come to the truck each day. However, this number varies greatly depending on the weather, as people are willing to wait outside longer on nicer days. 

The truck operates every week day during the academic year. Even though the truck is small, four people are able to work at a time, with one employee taking orders in the front and the others serving food in the truck. Some of the other employees have been University students. 

In 2015, Huynh and Wong also opened a Got Dumplings restaurant on the Corner as a comfortable place for students and their families to sit down and enjoy dumplings on evenings, weekends and in the summer when the truck does not operate. This restaurant has a larger menu with several additional food options that are not available at the truck, including ramen noodle soups, dumpling soups and bubble teas. The restaurant kitchen is also where all food is prepared for the food truck. 

Got Dumplings prepares all its food from scratch and uses traditional ingredients. The most popular dishes at the truck are the pork dumplings and the chicken curry dumplings, as well as the egg fried rice and cold noodles in peanut sauce. Huynh and Wong also value the importance of healthy food and provide healthy options such as seaweed salad, kimchi and edamame. 

First-year College student Brooke Meinhart used to buy dumplings from the truck nearly every week until she ran out of Plus Dollars. 

“I like coming to the dumpling truck because it's relatively cheap, delicious, fried food that makes me happy and is easy to grab and go sit in the Amphitheater with friends,” Meinhart said. “My favorite items on the menu are the pork dumplings with the peanut noodles because that peanut sauce is literally the bomb, and I love the sweet, savory combination.”

First-year College student Maeve Berman also agrees that the food is well worth the wait and money.

“I love the dumpling truck because obviously it tastes good, but also because it's a unique alternative to the dining hall for when I'm tired of going to Newcomb or O’Hill,” Berman said. “Everything has so much flavor. They're definitely worth the time and money because the wait is short, the food is amazing and they give a lot of food for how much they cost, especially since we can use plus dollars to purchase them.”

Third-year College student Elizabeth Cashin has eaten at the dumpling truck since her first year at the University and said it provides a satisfying experience.

“I love the dumpling truck,” Cashin said. “I don’t go as often as I did first and second year but it is a U.Va. classic. First year I would go every Friday with my friends and we even had a GroupMe for it called ‘Pumped for Dumps.’”

Got Dumplings is also involved in the broader Charlottesville community. Huynh and Wong are vendors at the Charlottesville City Market every Saturday between April and December as well as at the Tom Tom Founders Festival in April. They also cater for fairs, weddings and other events. 

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