After 17 years, my husband and I have recently moved back to the beautiful city of Guelph. Okay, I wasn’t living that far away in Guelph-Eramosa Township, but nonetheless, I have not been a resident of this fair city for 17 years.
So much has changed and yet some things have not changed at all. Guelph has always been a great food and beverage city, with strong agricultural ties and the University of Guelph it has always attracted an innovative food and beverage culture.
As myself an Italian cooking instructor and the daughter of a former local restaurateur, I can say the people of Guelph have a vast variety of offerings when it comes to restaurants, cafes, bars, markets, food shops and made in Guelph food and beverages.
We may not be leaving the country much these days but we can experience another food culture right here in our own backyard along with local favourites too.
My first couple of weeks living in Downtown Guelph has had me exploring everything our downtown has to offer and I recently ventured into Feng’s Dumplings, located in the Guelph Farmers' Market.
Now, let’s be clear, this was not my first time experiencing their delicious dumplings. Many Hillside Festival patrons will know them from their usual station at Guelph’s notorious music festival that is known for its delicious food offerings, as much as it is known for its music.
My husband, four children and I have enjoyed many festivals (and can’t wait for the return of the in-person festival) and Feng’s Dumplings are always enjoyed as a meal or late night snack during that July weekend.
Feng’s Dumplings has been a fixture at one of the oldest markets in the country, Guelph Farmers' Market, for almost 20 years.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Feng’s new owner from 2018, Yukui Lin, to learn about what has changed with the new ownership and what has stayed the same.
Lin purchased the business from the founder, Hsiao Feng. Feng’s has been a family run business since day-one and I am happy to say it is still a family-run business. Lin’s son and nephew are a big part of the retail operation and Lin still lovingly prepares all the dumplings from scratch, by hand in her government-inspected kitchen.
The original dumpling recipes, in the Taiwanese tradition, were passed from the original owner so you can expect that the dumplings still hold up to the original reputation of fresh and delicious.
The day I met with her, she was making her famous, handmade dumplings. She makes around 500 dumplings in just one sitting. The dough is a simple mixture of just flour and water. There are four varieties of fillings to choose from: tofu mushroom (vegan), pork, chicken and ginger beef.
I watched as she expertly rolled the dough with the sheeter and then cut out circles with a cutter. She placed a heaping spoonful of filling on each dough round, folded it over in a semicircle, sealed the edge and then expertly hand folded each ruffle in the dumpling. She continued as we spoke without missing a beat. It reminded me of making ravioli with my own family and I asked her about her remaining family in China. This is what I love most about food culture. It doesn’t matter where you are from; food, family and people are always at the heart.
Like a lot of food businesses, Feng’s has had to transition during the pandemic. After March of 2020, the remainder of 2020 was really challenging with the Guelph Farmer’s Market closed. They started an online store with frozen dumplings in July of 2020. Once this new product line started to take off, Lin, who has been cooking since she was a child in China and a restaurateur in her homeland, wanted to expand their offerings. I am happy to tell you that Feng’s Dumplings now offers spring rolls and kimchi. Not just any recipes though ... just like the dumplings, something special.
Lin’s own Chinese egg rolls are made with fresh ingredients and a delightfully crispy and light wrapper. Feng’s kimchi is adapted from a Korean recipe passed down from a famous Korean cook and as delicious as it is good for you.
Fengs is an original Guelph food business for close to 20 years that offers delightful Asian fare that is lovingly made from scratch with fresh ingredients.