The tangy twinge of heat that spiked from the burst of a few oily chili flakes glowed red for just a moment before being extinguished by the oyster mushroom and cabbage filling that stuffed the wontons. There was a pop of cilantro so fresh that it crunched before releasing a spritz of aromatic grassy greenness, followed by another fresh crunch of green onion; sesame seeds followed, offering a nutty rich shadow to the mingling of flavors with each soft and succulent bite. I was dumbstruck.

This, by the way, was not at all what I was expecting when I received “dim sum” through a tinted window this past Saturday afternoon at The Hanger at LBX.

Tucked into the street-side corner and obscured by the long snaking line of beer enthusiasts waiting to be served at Bottlecraft, is what looks like a walk-up window where one might buy movie tickets.

Morning Nights at the Hangar at LBX. Photo by Matt Miller.

The dark-tinted windows are set into a white brick wall beside a decorative door accented by a single caged bulb. The only thing that made this food court eatery stand out was the fact that it was the only counter without a line – I presumed because it was closed.

Morning Nights, the name written in white on the steel beam high over the window didn’t indicate what it might serve, and if not for the forgotten-looking chalkboard floor sign that read “dim sum” followed by a list of items (several of which were crossed off), it would have been a total mystery.

Curious, I approached to see if I could get a better look at the business that seemed to be closed on a busy Saturday afternoon when the tinted window abruptly slid open, startling me, and someone was at the ready to take my order. I felt like Dorothy being met with “who rang that bell?” when she approached the doors to Oz.

What I didn’t understand was exactly how this was dim sum? Dim sum is more of a parading event of bite-sized dishes to share than just a Cantonese style of food one grabs at a carryout window.

In the 10th century, travelers would stop into teahouses for yum cha (small portion bites with tea). Over time the idea gained popularity, eventually evolving into yat jung leung gin (“one cup two pieces”), and then to an entire meal made from a much larger selection of small bites offered from early morning to early afternoon as dim sum (“touching the heart”). These items, like steamed dumplings stuffed with shrimp or pork, or fried offerings similar to egg rolls, are still served today.

The egg rolls from Morning Nights were perfectly crispy and so flaky that the taro, wood ear mushrooms, and glass noodles tucked inside seemed to be encased in nothing more than tissue paper. Crunchy and delicate, they are almost defiantly strong when dipped into the house sweet and sour sauce. Earthy and rich, with a crispy and dense toothsome bite, these egg rolls were the perfect interlude between other flavors.

Daikon cake at Morning Nights. Photo by Matt Miller.

With so many interesting things from which to choose, it’s hard to pick just one or two. How do you choose between something like the Xiao Long Bao ($9), a juicy dumpling stuffed with a plant-based protein, ginger, and scallions served with black vinegar, or something like a daikon cake?

The daikon cake ($9) is made with daikon radish, Omni pork (plant-based), plant-based shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and scallions. It’s seared to add a crisp texture, cut into cubes, and served as the perfect dense bite filled with the illusion of pork and the sweetness of shrimp, which is actually more of an imitation crab flavor.

Definitely worth the trip if you’re in the mood for “dim sum,” but to be clear, this isn’t traditional dim sum. There is no steam cart rolling around offering you delectable bites to share with family and friends. Instead, Morning Nights offers small portions inspired by what one might be offered at a vegan dim sum restaurant, if there was one here in Long Beach.


Cost: $

Two people can eat for under $30

Vibe: Food court takeout with open seating.

Go-to Dish: Spicy wontons

Drinks: Soft drinks, a throwaway wine list, local beer selection spotlighting Trademark Brewing, Sake, and an interesting cocktail list.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to correct a typo in the first sentence that was caused by an editing error.