Anyone paying attention knows the Long Beach food scene has a lot going for it, as in lots of cultures, genres and styles. Still, anyone paying attention knew there was at least one type of food noticeably absent from the city’s foodscape: dim sum.
That’s about to change as the city’s first formal taste of Chinese dim sum will soon arrive at the Hangar inside the Long Beach Exchange and, get this, it will be vegan. Vegan dim sum, brought to you by the owners of the Kroft—the poutine joint also located inside the Hangar that acts as both bar and restaurant, with a speakeasy-vibe.
“My wife and I have noticed that more and more people are in tune with what they put into their body and what’s going on with the planet,” said owner Stephen Le. “So we wanted to offer them something that is totally different than the Kroft.”
The Kroft has garnered a cult-like following in Orange County after it opened at the Anaheim Packing District. The gastropub-y, pseudo-chain—they have plans to open yet another location in Downtown L.A.’s Chinatown—specializes in various forms of poutine, the quasi-national dish of Canada where fries are topped with cheese curds and gravy in amounts somewhat over the top.
Morning Nights is aiming to be almost the precise opposite.
“The Kroft is our great success story, no doubt,” Le said. “But it is pure gluttony. It’s place where you’re not supposed to be counting calories and enjoy yourself. Morning Nights will be definitively different.”
Dim sum staples—siu mai, har gow, xiao long bao, char siu bao, turnip cake—will all have vegan versions along with sharing plates that highlight Chinese-American cuisine, like vegan honey walnut shrimp to dandan noodles, Morning Nights is hoping to tap into a market that is completely new in Long Beach—those seeking to find dim sum will have to head south to Orange County or north to Torrance—while also mixing that food with a full-bar.
And this all seems appropriate given the wild success of The Hangar (something discussed on the podcast, Suppertime in the LBC, with Sarah Bennett, Jason Ruiz and myself). East Long Beach, up until The Hangar, was a food desert catering solely to chains and fast food spots.
It has brought in well-known, independent brands—largely from Orange County with a handful of local ones, like Chef Thomas Ortega’s stellar Amorcito—including Le’s own Kroft. Taking over the last spot available in the Hangar’s dining hall, the food space will soon have everything from exemplary tacos to Korean BBQ to kabobs to craft beer to, yes, finally, dim sum.
With the build-out currently taking place, Le hopes that Morning Nights will be open by summer.
“We’re really hoping for a May or June opening” he said.
The Hanger is located inside the Long Beach Exchange at 3991 N Lakewood Blvd.