Little Saigon Cafe (with Happy Dumplings) Offering Mostly Takeout in the Tenderloin

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J. Birdsall
Happy Dumpling's happy dumplings, now indoors.
After reading Luis Chong's post yesterday about a new restaurant being opened by the owners of the popular Happy Dumpling stand at the Stonestown farmers' market, SFoodie contacted owner Chuck Kerson to learn more. He and partner Linda Jiang were in the midst of opening day madness, but took some time out to talk.

The couple has named their new place Little Saigon Cafe, after the neighborhood they've moved into. They found the space a month ago, taking over from a failing business. While it has room for a few tables, the space is mostly set up for takeout.

Kerson and Jiang have paired up with neighbor Randy Nguyen to serve banh mi, prepared Vietnamese-style dishes, and Jiang's pancakes and Shandong-style "water-fried" dumplings. Kerson describes the dumplings as having a more complex risen dough than traditional pot stickers; currently they're offering pork and chive, pork with cabbage, and vegetarian dumplings, and will occasionally offer specials like fennel.

Nguyen's dishes, most warmed in the steam table, include the spicy beef noodle soup bun bo hue, Vietnamese meatballs, and stir-fried bitter melon. It's going to be a while, however, before the couple can start selling their cumin-flecked lamb skewers ― first they have to buy a grill. For the grilled meats, you'll still have to go to Stonestown; Kerson says they're not planning on giving up their stand there anytime soon.

Little Saigon Cafe 670 Larkin (at Ellis), 345-1969; open daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

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