Laoban Is Opening a Dumpling and Noodle Shop in Union Market

On the menu from chef Tim Ma: soup dumplings and cold beers.

Laoban Dumplings. Photograph by Clarissa Villondo of Karlin Villondo Photography.

Union Market’s mini-restaurant stall has been sitting empty since the Thamee/Toli Moli team closed their Burmese bodega to focus on their new H Street restaurant. Now there’s a new occupant: Laoban Dumplings, a Chinese noodle and dumpling shop from owner Patrick Coyne and new culinary director Tim Ma (American Son). The duo are currently revamping the space for a late January opening.

Laoban currently operates as a fast-casual spot out of food incubator Pendleton Carryout in Alexandria as well as at American University. The Union Market location will also be counter-service with seating for about a dozen diners. In addition to the core menu of dumplings like ginger-chicken, Berkshire pork, and shiitake-veggie, Ma is working on new dishes like a spicy beef noodle soup and snacks such as silken tofu or fermented vegetables. The team also plans to roll out soup dumplings in limited quantities on the weekends. All can be paired with cold Chinese beers—the team is working on a local collaboration for a Laoban lager—or hot teas.

The space will also have a small market component with Laoban swag, homemade sauces, snacks, chips, and local ceramics.

Coyne says he hopes to be open by Lunar New Year on January 25, “a big dumpling holiday.” Laoban isn’t the only new face to look for at the market. There’s been a recent infusion of enticing new dining options between the opening of Egyptian/Mediterranean spot Fava Pot and forthcoming concepts like Annaré, an Italian pastry shop from the Stellina Pizzeria team opening next week, and two eateries from chef Alex McCoy: a Lucky Buns burger counter and Thai street food shop stall, Som Tam, slated to open by the end of the year. 

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.