Dumplings for days

BY YUN LIN | JUNE 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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Dumpling Darling’s stand at the Iowa City Farmers’ Market attracts shoppers’ eyes with its traditional Asian bamboo steamers stacked on top of each other.

“I’m making dumplings so Iowans have the opportunity to try something different,” Dumpling Darling owner Lesley Triplett said. “Asian students can buy dumplings here that might be similar to ones they would find at home.”

Triplett uses a traditional Asian steaming method and ingredients to ensure her dumplings are tasty for customers.

“I make a few thousand dumplings a week, and I usually sell everything that I make,” Triplett said.

The inspiration for Dumpling Darling came after she returned from teaching in South Korea. She said it was an unforgettable experience and it nurtured her love for East Asian food.

“I love making dumplings,” she said. “I lived in South Korea for one year and ate them all the time. When I came back, I really missed dumplings, and there wasn’t a place here for me to get them, so I started to make them for friends and family.”

Triplett’s husband encouraged her to sell dumplings at the Farmers’ Market as a hobby, she said.

“I remember that I called my mom and told her I was starting a dumpling stand at the Farmers’ Market,” Triplett said.

“She thought it would be too much work. She was worried I wouldn’t make any money until she actually came and saw my business and what I was doing.”

Having a stand at the Farmers’ Market has been a good start for the business, she said.

“I always wanted to have my own business and be my own boss,” she said. “I thought that selling dumplings could be something I could do.”

Dumpling Darling has now expanded beyond the Farmers’ Market and is now sold in several locations around Iowa City, including John’s Grocery, 401 E. Market St.

“Dumpling Darling is definitely a perfect fit for our space,” said Doug Alberhasky, the owner and manager of John’s.

“We take a lot pride in helping people get off the ground to be able to do what they do,” he said.

Word has been spreading fast about the new dumpling experience in town.

“We heard about Dumpling Darling from friends,” customer Rob Marini said. “It is something unique, different, and classic, and it is so good for breakfast. You have to try it.”

“I always like to try new things, so today I decided to try something new,” customer Penny Rembolt said. “The dumpling is good, not too spicy; I like it.”

Some customers saw similarities between the dumplings and foods they were more familiar with.

“This is the breakfast dumpling, it tastes a lot like a breakfast sandwich, but it is softer in a good way,” customer Catherine Marini said.

Dumpling Darling brings South Korea to Iowa City and encourages people to try something different and new, Triplett said.

“From my experience studying abroad, I realized that I was capable of figuring things out on my own and getting through cultural and linguistic barriers,” she said.

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