At some point towards the middle/end of June, a new dumpling shop will open in the front 200 sqft of what used to be Mamie Taylor’s in Chinatown.
The new project is called BLND TGER. That’s ‘Blind Tiger’ with the I’s removed. Because the tiger is blind. Get it? I didn’t at first. Co-owner Lewis Hart patiently explained it to me as I stared at him quizzically during a recent tour.
It wasn’t one of my proudest moments.
Beyond the clever name is the undeniable appeal of a Hutong-style, evenings-only, open-frontage dumpling shop churning out a variety of stuffed delights for takeaway and quick, on-site consumption (there are only four seats inside, plus a wee patio). Hart says there will be seven dumpling options on opening day, among them Tibetan momos and tongue-numbing, pork-filled Zhongs. Preparing them will be chef Phong Vo, who you might remember from his stints running the kitchens at Heirloom and the long-shuttered Electric Owl. To drink, I’m told that we can expect a selection of interesting iced teas.
First time restaurateur Hart has two managing partners in the enterprise, front of house veteran Brett Christopher and bartender Alex Black. This begs the question: why are esteemed front of house professionals up to their necks in a new project that doesn’t appear to have a front of house? And why the hell would they pay rent on a few thousand square feet but only use 200? And come to think of it, why are there only four seats when Mamie Taylor’s was licensed for 100?
I’d press these questions to Hart if I thought he’d answer them on the record. He’s respectfully made it clear that he won’t. What’s happening behind the fresh dry wall is not for public consumption just yet. I’m happy enough to leave it alone except to say that they’ve got London’s Bergman Interiors working on it and I’d be silly to believe these guys were only planning to serve up dumplings and iced teas.
So yeah, watch this space. It should prove of deeper interest than it outwardly seems, and I hope to reveal more about it soon.
I spoke with Lewis awhile back when he was starting this and was immediately impressed with the boldness of his vision.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this opening for a couple years now, stoked that it’s opening down the street from my shop!
Haha I knew when I read “respectful interpretations” this would be lead by white dudes. Come on, a bunch of white men selling Asian food in Chinatown? How tone deaf can you still be at this point?
I have a hard time understanding how anyone would think that this restaurant concept is a good idea. Did no one tell them that the optics of Caucasian men opening an “Asian inspired” dumpling restaurant in Chinatown during a rise of anti Asian incidents might be a poor choice or did they choose to be ignorant? My opinion is the latter when you consider the current climate. Do they have any associations with BLND TGER club in Toronto? Is this a similar concept to JIAO dimsum bar in Montreal?
Really? A “dumpling shop” owned by 3 white dudes being opened up just when Vancouver has been named the Anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America? And not only that, but they’re opening up Chinatown, where Chinese immigrants were historically segregated and subject to decades of systematic racism and oppression? No thanks.
I remember this one time when this slick Asian dude opened an Italian restaurant and it just so tone deaf. Then there was the time an Australian guy opened an inauthentic French bistro and we all screamed ‘cultural expropriation’! I mean, didn’t he even know how French people have suffered through multiple world wars? What about all the Chinese sushi spots in Vancouver? How would the Uyghurs and Tibetans feel about that, let alone the Japanese? And don’t even get me started about Indians opening pizza parlours, because that shit is just fucked up. I mean, this is all about power and control, right? Not dinner and drinks. This is about ethnicity and systemic racism, right? Not hospitality and service. This is about making sure BIPOC voices are heard, right? Not going out and trying to find a way to have a good time again. If you want to open a restaurant, you gonna need to consider ALL the ways the concept and menu can offend the sensibilities of the historically disenfranchised. Because that’s what’s up, motherfuckers. That’s what’s for brunch now. That’s where we’ve allowed ourselves to go, eating our politics with knives and forks. Fuck.
I can’t believe all these ridiculous comments about “3 white guys” opening an ‘asian-inspired’ restaurant.
First off: who cares? I’m a white guy that has worked in French, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Peruvian, American restaurants et cetera…was I being a cultural vulture? No, I was just trying to make an honest living and learn about new cultures and cuisines. That’s the whole point: getting exposure to something new.
Food is culture. Culture isn’t owned by those born into it – the pleasure is in the sharing. Hospitality is a pleasure business. Food is the ultimate common denominator. Stop trying to put up walls instead of tearing them down.
Don’t people realize that vilifying people by the colour of their skin (even if that colour is white) is the same racist bullshit coming from a different direction?
And by the way, is Chef Phong Vo also complicit in this ‘cultural appropriation’? Doesn’t sound like an evil white guy’s name…
Stop trying to be woke and just wake up.
Peace and love.
How ridiculous are these comments about 3 white guys opening a dumpling shop? That’s like saying it’s racist for an Indian person to open a pizza shop. My family has owned a pizza shop for almost a decade and no one has ever once mentioned anything like this, it’s disgusting to try and spin this around and make an issue out of it.
I can’t wait for this! My family is Fijian and we own an Italian quinine restaurant out in surrey, cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation are two very different things. People need to get a grip. I for one love this idea and I can’t wait to visit.
Sounds like a great addition to China town 🙂 covid has wiped out so many places, it’s nice to see some opening rather then closing after this past year.
With minimal digging I think I have found the answer to what may or may not be behind the first layer of drywall. If I am correct, I can see this being contentious. Doesn’t bother me, but if people are upset with a dumpling counter, I can only imagine.
Woohoo! I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 5 years and I think this is a great addition! Welcome to the neighbourhood BlndTger.
Sadly, many of these comments are coming from the same IP address with different names. Don’t do that.
Ok, so what I’ve taken away from this convo is:
-only cook and serve food from your designated ethnicity.
-don’t try to open a business unless your decide on which social cause you are going to tackle first.
Look at all the white people missing the point. Let me be frank; we have a problem with WHITE people starting restaurants based in any kind of cuisine that has historically been part of a culture that they have not only colonized, but have tried to erase or made to feel “other”. For white people to make money off of cuisine that they once turned their noses up to is an immense insult. Don’t get me wrong, sharing culture is amazing, appreciate all you want, but once white people start capitalizing on culture they shat all over (and often still do), that’s where we have an issue. At the very least, take your ignorant asses to Yaletown or Kits, putting a white run dumpling shop in Chinatown is a hate crime.
Oh my god. You’re not an ‘Angry POC’. You’re just a racist trying to insert their loathing into hospitality, a part of life that seeks to bring people together. Please just stop the hate. You don’t represent me so please don’t act like it.