Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood may not be considered a dumpling hotspot in the city, but Jiayi Du hopes to change that.

Du recently opened Ai Dumpling on Somerled Ave., two blocks from Benny Park.

The shop opened seven months ago.

Du uses the technique of making the dough, stuffing, and folding it into little pockets.

She learned it from her relatives in China.

Du’s inspiration to open Ai Dumpling? Her kids.

“They said, ‘Oh we like it and you can open this restaurant and everyone will like it,’” Du said. “When we make dumplings, they like to help….it’s like playdoh. They’re playing.”

Ai Dumpling has 22 kinds of dumplings filled with different meats and vegetables.

The dumplings come steamed or fried. 

Customers can even watch them being made. 

“We’re an open kitchen,” she said. “A lot of people like to watch how we make it. People ask, ‘Can you open a class and teach us how to make the dumplings?’”

Traditionally, dumplings are a celebratory food. 

They’re eaten to commemorate the Lunar New Year or to toast good fortune. 

In Canada, dumplings are eaten more frequently, and with different toppings. 

“In China, we like to eat them with vinegar but here, Western people like them with soya sauce,” she said. 

But for Du, it’s about far more than just the dumplings. 

“We put the heart in,” she said. “I treat every customer like my family.”