Vegan dim sum in Long Beach lands just right at The Hangar – Press Telegram

Morning Nights is unlike any other dim sum destination in town — and possibly in the world! — in a multitude of ways.

First of all, its name is universal enough for it to be…anything. It doesn’t say “Chinese food.” And it certainly doesn’t say dim sum — though it does suggest that it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the fact that it’s open for dinner — till 10 p.m. every night — also sets it apart from the dimsummeries that serve breakfast and lunch, but never dinner.

Then, it’s not really a restaurant. Morning Nights is a stand inside The Hangar — a window, really, where you place your order from a small menu, and patiently wait to gobble your dumplings and noodles at one of the numerous tables surrounding the complex — including a patio hidden down a passageway adjacent to the stand, at the end of which is a red door.

Open the door, and you’re on an outdoor seating area next to a bar serving exotic cocktails, along with sake, beer, wine and soft drinks. The only tea is unsweetened Brisk iced tea. Since dim sum is traditionally served in tea houses, this is in itself a radical departure from the norm. Of course there are no dim sum ladies pushing carts; they’ve been supplanted by à la carte dim sum at numerous destinations.

And then, there’s one more notable point of difference: the dim sum at Morning Nights…is vegan. Traditionally, dim sum dumplings are built around pork, beef, chicken, shrimp…and more pork. (This is a very pork-centric cuisine!) More often than not, the choices are meat uber alles. But that said, the menu at Din Tai Fung, for instance, has vegan dumplings, vegan buns, vegan wontons and vegan noodles. With its branches in massive malls around town, Din Tai Fung offers a choice for those of the meatless persuasion.

But Morning Nights goes full tilt, leaping in the meatless dim sum steamer, but with a limited menu of just five vegan dumplings and cakes. It’s always tempting to say that, golly gee, you can’t tell the difference. But pork is one of those meats that announces itself loudly and proudly; pork tastes like pork. The vegan shu mai are packed with “plant-based protein,” mushrooms and carrots.

The menu does tell us what plant the protein is based on. Whatever it is, it has a bit of a grainy texture, and a seemingly neutral flavor. I taste the mushrooms and the carrots. I taste the soy and the chili sauce. I don’t taste the protein.

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