Andy Huynh has an impressive restaurant résumé.
Having worked at Assembly, 515 Kitchen & Cocktails and Home in Soquel as Brad Briske’s sous chef, he’s put his culinary time in. It was after making thousands of angliottis with Briske that he noticed they aren’t too different from dumplings, and left his day job to perfect the art of the Asian staple over the last eight months.
Full Steam Dumpling is a mobile pop-up that specializes in bao, gyoza and har gow, but these aren’t just typical street dumplings—they’re fancified. Huynh makes a pork with kimchi version and a squid ink, pork and crab shumai, plus a kale and hedgehog mushroom veggie option; don’t worry there’s no hedgehog in there.
What got you into cooking?
HUYNH: I just needed a job when I was 17. My family does cook, but I did it out of necessity. When I moved to Santa Cruz, I noticed how food was so important to people here. I used to help my mom roll wontons growing up, too. But I’ve also had to try and teach myself how to make dumplings. There is so much that goes into it, it’s crazy.
I started making dumplings at the 515, doing specials, and people actually bought them. There aren’t a lot of dumplings around Santa Cruz. I feel like sometimes Asian food is underrepresented. The last dumpling place was Mortal Dumpling. I heard great things, but they have been gone for awhile.
I really like the classic pork and scallion. It has a bunch of secret ingredients I can’t share. I also have a chilli-cheese bao that I tried for fun one time that was pretty good. The braised beef is pretty good, but I have a lot of favorites. We are always experimenting with new things.
What’s the most dumplings you’ve made in a day?
Like 600 by myself. It was a lot. Now I have a team, but for the Do It Ourselves fest we have to make like 2,000.
Have you been just living off of dumplings for the last eight months?
Pretty much. Dumplings and fillings. Sometimes I will cook up some rice with the filling. It’s not too bad.
Full Steam Dumpling hosts their first pop-up at Shanty Shack at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.