Months after introducing D.C. diners to the type of steamed dumplings he fell in love with while working overseas, Laoban Dumplings founder Patrick Coyne is inching closer to owning a full-fledged restaurant by planting his pop-up operation inside the shops at 2000 Penn.
“It’s a very humble space … just a couple of counters,” Coyne tells Eater about the former carry-out spot he’s currently converting into the first kinda-sorta brick-and-mortar version of his mobile kitchen. (The second Bindaas in the area is moving in nearby as well.)
Coyne says he impressed the property managers when he rolled through there back in May; he says he sold out of 500 dumplings within an hour, and the line, at times, was 50-plus people deep. “They’re trying to revitalize it by bringing in new blood,” he says of the one-time home of iconic seafood restaurant Kinkead’s.
Coyne plans to to do his part by luring in as many George Washington University students and World Bank professionals as possible with the steamed-to-order dumplings in his arsenal. He’s keeping the menu short: one meat dumpling (think: lamb, pork, chicken), one vegetable dumpling (mushroom, scallions, bok choy), and a side salad are expected to rotate every few weeks.
He plans to supplement the cold-brewed mint tea Laoban fans have gotten to know with a citrus-spiked coffee “soda” produced by New York-based Keepers.
“It’s really refreshing,” Coyne says of the carbonated coffee drink he’s fairly certain no one else in the District is carrying (yet).
There will be six stools at the main counter for those who wish to linger, but Coyne remains committed to providing everyone with food that’s “very convenient, very fast.” He anticipates opening within “the next few weeks,” and plans to operate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Need dumplings now? Laoban is scheduled to participate in the September Taste event happening in Navy Yard from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, September 23.