In an exclusive interview with Suburbs 101, Jocelyn Pollak and Chalermrat (Kook) Pongngarmsanga, the founders and masterminds behind Grumpy Dumpling Co., shared their story of moving from Thailand to Norwalk, CT. They shed light on the reasons why they moved to Norwalk, CT and why they love living in Norwalk.
They also share their story of how they transformed their dumpling business into a local sensation.
Describe your move to Norwalk, CT. Why did you decide to move to Connecticut?
Our story is probably a bit different from most people because we moved from Bangkok to Norwalk. The main reason why we moved to Norwalk is because I (Jocelyn) grew up in Wilton, CT and my family is still in the area.
It was a familiar starting place for us in the United States. Norwalk is also very diverse and has a great immigrant community which was important for us as my husband is living far from home.
Norwalk is reasonably affordable compared to the surrounding Connecticut towns, it has beaches and parks, great restaurants, cultural events, and festivals, and is all around a great place to live.
8 Reasons to Move to Norwalk, CT
The people we’ve met in Norwalk are friendly and supportive.
Norwalk has great restaurants.
You can find pretty much everything you need in Norwalk and the transportation accessibility makes travel to/from here easy.
4. Parks and Public Space
There are many parks and cultural venues in Norwalk.
One of the reasons why we moved to Norwalk is that it is diverse. There are people from all over the world and all levels of income living in Norwalk.
Another reason why we moved to Norwalk is that it is immigrant-friendly. We’ve met so many people from all over living in Norwalk and it’s a welcoming community.
7. On the water
One of the reasons why we love living in Norwalk is that it is on the water. We are so lucky to have beautiful beaches right in Norwalk.
8. Centrally Located
Norwalk is a great place to live in because it is centrally located. You can go to the surrounding towns pretty easily. There are a lot of things to do.
How would you describe Norwalk, CT residents?
Norwalk residents are welcoming, diverse, accepting and friendly.
Did you know anyone when you moved to Norwalk, CT? Any advice for newcomers on the best way to meet people in Norwalk?
When we moved to Norwalk, we didn’t know anyone. However, in surrounding Connecticut towns I do have old family friends.
My advice for newcomers in Norwalk is to go to the parks if you have a family, there are always a ton of people there.
The farmers markets in the area are great ways to get in touch with local vendors and community members.
To be honest, we have been working so much on our business since moving here, that we could use some advice!
Are you a member of a country club or yacht club? How do you like it?
We aren’t members of any club, but my parents belong to Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, CT and I have been going there since I was a kid. They have some good programs for learning to sail and their junior sailing program is open to the public.
You have a baby. What do you like to do with Max in Norwalk, CT?
I have a 6 months old. We love to take Max on walks around the local parks.
We also love the Maritime Aquarium. We recently started swim class at the Stewie the Duck school and Max loves it.
The library has good programs for kids and babies. We actually do the program at Wilton Library but I know there are similar mommy and me programs available at the Norwalk library.
Any favorite restaurants in Norwalk you can recommend to our readers?
Of course, we have to suggest our own, Grumpy Dumpling Co. for delivery! But we also love Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk. Rincon Taqueria is another one of our favorite restaurants in Norwalk.
Centro in Fairfield is another favorite. And we love The Whale Tea for bubble tea.
Check out our interview with Chef Kook as he reveals his favorite Thai restaurants in NYC
Do you or Kook commute to NYC? What has your experience been with the commute from Norwalk to NYC?
We don’t commute to NYC daily but we do go into New York City often for fun. From Norwalk, there are a couple of Metro North train stations with regular schedules. They have paid parking and I’ve been travelling from South Norwalk station since I was a kid.
Alternatively, you can drive into the city and use the SpotHero app to find reasonable parking. This has really come in handy now that we have a baby.
Tell me more about Grumpy Dumpling. How did you start?
Grumpy Dumpling began in the spring of 2022 when I returned to the States after spending almost a decade teaching English in Thailand. My taste buds were homesick for the authentic flavors that had become an integral part of my life.
Then there’s Kook, my partner in life and business, hailing from the bustling city of Bangkok. Deep down, he had always carried a passion for food, dreaming of one day creating his food business.
One fateful night, Kook whipped up a batch of dumplings that blew my mind. It was as if each bite encapsulated the essence of our shared love for Thai cuisine. That’s when it hit us – why not combine Kook’s culinary prowess with my knack for entrepreneurship?
In the summer heat of late June 2022, Grumpy Dumpling Co. made its debut at a local event, and the response was beyond our wildest dreams – we were sold out in no time.
Our handmade dumplings, crafted with the freshest ingredients, quickly gained a reputation for their unrivaled quality and taste.
We’ve always been adamant about using the finest, locally sourced produce and organic meats, pouring our hearts and souls into each and every dumpling. Yes, it’s a painstaking process, but the smiles on our customers’ faces make it all worthwhile.
For those craving a taste of our delectable dumplings at home, we offer pre-cooked cold options that can be effortlessly prepared within minutes.
And for the eager foodies out there, you can catch us serving hot, steaming dumplings at various events and local farmers’ markets.
And then there’s the Grumpy Sauce – oh, the secret recipe that has everyone coming back for more. I can’t spill all the beans, but let’s just say it’s a carefully concocted blend that includes some special ingredients straight from the heart of Thailand.
It’s not just a sauce; it’s an experience, and some of our fans even confess to sipping it straight from the cup!
Where Can We Buy Your Dumplings?
We are at 7 farmers’ markets. We’ve also made it easier for our customers to indulge in our dumplings by providing the option to order online for local delivery or order for catering.
We’ve also started teaching dumpling classes, both private and public.
Check out the Grumpy Dumpling website to order.
At Suburbs 101, we’re dedicated to building a library of first-hand perspectives and experiences for people moving to the suburbs. We rely on recommendations from the community to uncover hidden gems. If you know someone who deserves to be interviewed, please don’t hesitate to let us know here.