The time for vegan dim sum is now

A plate with four pieces of rolled dough with a savory filling.
Scallion pancake roll at Morning Nights restaurant in Long Beach.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California has an ever-expanding landscape of vegan restaurants that reflect the flavors of its culinary communities. Across Los Angeles you can find jackfruit-filled tacos, pasta Alfredo made with cashew “cheese,” seitan chicken and waffles, and Vietnamese cooking that circumvents the fish sauce. How might plant-based dim sum fit into the dining ecology?

Eddie Lin explores that question this week with his profile of Morning Nights in Long Beach. The restaurant is a passion project for Phillip Tsan, a former IT consultant, who began experimenting with making dim sum for a vegan girlfriend.

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The biggest challenge for Tsan? Mimicking the familiar meaty textures in many dim sum staples. “Many dumplings include minced pork as a key ingredient,” Lin writes. “Vegan-izing the pork would become Tsan’s biggest hurdle to satisfying hardcore dim sum fanatics. Maybe that, and figuring out how to make plant-based phoenix talons.”

How did Tsan figure out the equation? Read the article for the answer, which Lin says led to a recipe that “came together like vegan alchemy to create a bite of dumpling that is remarkably luscious, satisfying and close to its meat counterpart in flavor.”

Sam Dean asks the very relevant question: As inflation soars, how is AriZona iced tea still 99 cents?

— This week Southern California’s unionized grocery workers gained their biggest pay raises in decades, Margot Roosevelt reports.

Julie Giuffrida gathers together recipes for Passover, including pomegranate-braised lamb and Persian chicken soup with chicken dumplings.

— And this week in restaurant news from Stephanie Breijo: APL pops up in Pasadena, where the catering company Villa Paella has launched new Spanish restaurant Dos Besos. Plus, global-minded Wanderlust Creamery expands to Sawtelle.

A bearded man in a T-shirt and chef's apron cuts up barbecued ribs in a professional kitchen.
Chef Adam Perry Lang’s new barbecue pop-up serves low-and-slow-smoked beef ribs, chicken, pork ribs and other classics.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

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Huntington Beach Pier dinner

The Los Angeles Times Food Bowl, presented by City National Bank, is partnering with Outstanding in the Field to serve a meal featuring sustainably caught seafood. The event will take place at 4 p.m. May 12 on the Huntington Beach Pier. Participating chefs include Brian Bornemann of Crudo e Nudo, Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, Chris Tompkins of Broad Street Oyster Co. and Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections. The event benefits the Los Angeles Food Bank. Tickets are $365 and can be purchased here.

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Participating Los Angeles restaurants include Birdie G’s and Rustic Canyon (chef Jeremy Fox), Phenakite (chef Minh Phan), El Ruso and Moo’s Craft Barbecue. In addition, actor, director, comedian, winemaker and cookbook author Eric Wareheim will be serving food from his “Foodheim” cookbook, and Las Jaras Wines, from Wareheim and winemaker Joel Burt, will be poured.

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Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.