What's in a name? For the owners of Commercial Drive's Ugly Dumpling restaurant, a name can be pretty ironic. The three-year-old Japanese-focused spot, which specializes in simple, seasonal, heart-warming food, has enjoyed a lot of love, but now the journey is coming to an end.
Ugly Dumpling - often referred to in recent months as just "Ugly" - will be closing permanently at the end of the year.
The announcement came with the start of October via an Instagram post from the restaurant owners.
Ugly Dumpling opened in 2018 (taking over what had been Merchant's), but in late 2020, chef-owner Darren Gee was bolstered by a new business partnership with Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside of East Vancouver's Dachi.
“We love Darren and his incredible food at Ugly,” said Ellis in November 2020. “Every week we’d go for post-work Staff Meal and shoot the shit together, so this partnership came about quite naturally for us."
"Staff Meal," the term for the off-menu dinner the restaurant serves employees before opening for the evening, was given a real place of respect at Ugly, where it appeared on the menu, in the spirit of acknowledging that simple, soulful eats can also be part of a top-tier restaurant experience.
Ugly's closure, which is set for the end of the year, is attributed to timing. The restaurant explains: "Darren and his wife Nanako are heading to Japan to take care of the family business, which had always been in the plans, the timing’s just worked out to be for the next season."
Open Thursday through Monday from 5 to 10 p.m., Ugly Dumpling offers dine-in and limited take-out options, including serving hand-made ni-hachi style soba on Sunday nights. Or you can just let Gee guide your meal: "Reservations for Omakase are available to book on Tock - it’s the best to just let Darren cook for you," adds Ugly on Instagram.