DUMPLING MASTER: Three Fold owner Lisa Zhang (file photo).
Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. plans to move from 215 Center St. to 613 Main St. by August, owner Lisa Zhang says. The new location, in the ground floor of the Arkansas Democrat Lofts building, is larger by more than 500 square feet, which will allow Three Fold to seat about 120 customers, up from 80 now. Another new addition: Baozi, a Chinese pastry with sweet and savory filling, will be offered for breakfast. Otherwise, Three Fold’s small menu of authentic Chinese noodles, dumplings and steamed buns served with an option of chicken, pork or tofu will remain the same.
Zhang said she was motivated to move by her desire to match her authentic Chinese cuisine with a more authentic Chinese serving style.
“When Chinese people eat a dumpling, they eat it very hot. Same thing with noodles,” she said. Her current location only allows for cafeteria-style serving.
“Aside from our food, I realize customers like us because we’re very efficient,” Zhang said. “The business lunch crowd, people going to the theater, coming home during rush hour, family travelers — they enjoy our fast but friendly service.” The new setup “won’t jeopardize speed, but it will have better service,” she said.
In the new space Three Fold will have an open kitchen where patrons can watch much of the preparation. Much like Pei Wei, customers will order from the counter and their food will be delivered to their table freshly prepared.
Zhang jokes that she’s been likened to the Soup Nazi of TV’s “Seinfeld” fame for her desire that customers eat the most authentic versions of her food. She hopes the open kitchen will help introduce diners to menu items they haven’t tried before. The new layout will allow Three Fold to push an option that’s available but not publicized by the restaurant: adding broth to noodle bowls. When Chinese people eat noodles, 80 percent of the time it’s as noodle soup, Zhang said. But “perfect noodle soup” can’t be done in the current service-line setup, she said. Noodles expand and lose their texture unless they’re served immediately after broth is poured over them. That will happen in the new location.