The largest Taiwanese dumpling maker, Bafang Dumpling, has confirmed to Eater that it will be opening its first San Diego restaurant at the Village at Mira Mesa before the end of the year. Its corner storefront will be part of the retail center’s new expansion area (where Crumbl Cookies is already located) near the intersection of Mira Mesa Boulevard and Reagan Road.
After conquering Asia, where it has nearly 1,300 locations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and sells 1.2 billion dumplings each year, Bafang is setting its sights on growing its U.S. market with ambitions to make it bigger than its Hong Kong presence.
Bafang founder Jiayu Lin was a struggling mechanic while his wife was a math teacher who had students coming to their home for tutoring where they made potstickers for the kids, a popular afternoon snack, before buckling down to study. The first Bafang Dumpling restaurant opened in 1998, expanded to Hong Kong in 2008, and launched in China in 2014. Last year, the company went public on the Taiwanese stock market.
Ringing in at 3,000-square-feet, the San Diego restaurant “will be bigger than our City of Industry restaurant with more seating since we’ll have more space,” Stephanie Peng, CEO of Bafang Yunji North America, told Eater over a phone call. The chain made its stateside debut in March 2022 with a restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley and opened a second SoCal store last month in Chino Hills. “Our team is really excited. It’s such a great area and great community. We’re happy that Mira Mesa will be home to our first store in San Diego,” said Peng.
The menu will be the same as the Los Angeles area outposts, featuring specialties like its signature boiled dumplings filled with pork and cabbage, corn and chicken, or kimchi and pork, as well as the Bafang pork chop, a popular Taiwanese breaded pork cutlet. Other favorites include griddle-fried potstickers, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and old-fashioned noodles, which are bouncy QQ noodles dressed with soy sauce and shallot oil. Drinks range from boba tea to mango soy milk.
There are also combo meals, which include iced lemon black tea or a cup of hot and sour soup, corn chowder soup, or mini wonton soup. “The combinations are easy for the customers to sample what our specialties are,” said Peng.
“We want to be able to offer authentic Taiwanese comfort food, like potstickers, dumplings, and noodles. Our aim is to deliver high-quality food that’s easy and convenient at affordable pricing,” said Peng. “We hope to go in offering a different style of food than burgers, pizzas, and tacos.”
While its North American headquarters and central kitchen will remain based in Irvine, Bafang has set a goal of opening 10 more U.S. stores by the end of 2023. “We’re vigorously expanding, focusing on Southern California because of its diversity,” added Peng.
While 85 percent of their stores in Asia are franchised, the first batch of U.S. Bafang restaurants is all corporate-owned. There will be opportunities for franchisees to expand across the country as Bafang establishes firm footing on this side of the Pacific.