May 16, 2023 - Food and Drink

Gajiza Dumplins to open at Bagley bar until new space finished

Bánh Khot, Vietnamese prawn mini savory pancakes (left), and Tiki Tots with crispy bacon and a fried egg. Photos: Courtesy of Gajiza Dumplins

Until it moves into a location of its own next year, Laotian- and Thai-influenced Gajiza Dumplins will keep slinging food from a revolving bar space.

The latest: Jasmine Haskins starts serving out of the former Bagley Central in southwest Detroit, which was until recently a Valentine's themed bar, around June 1.

  • It's her pop-up operation's latest temporary home until the build-out of a full-scale restaurant on the east side, in the Ribbon development on East Warren, finishes next year.
  • It'll also have space for frozen dumpling production for retail.
  • Gajiza's previous pop-up residency was at tiki bar Lost River.

Details: Haskins hand-makes all 30 of the dumpling varieties she's created over the years, incorporating various traditional techniques and types. She also serves noodles, rice and curry dishes.

  • "I'm from Thailand-Laos, so my concept and my food that I introduce to the community is a lot of Laotian Hmong food, Thai incorporated, Vietnamese, Cambodian," she says.
  • "When you come, you smell it, it hits you … you get a lot of that pungent shrimp paste, anchovies. So Gajiza is not just about dumplings, but offering Southeast Asian cuisine, too."
An old black and white photo shows a baby and her mother in front of some greenery.
Jasmine Haskins with her mother in Laos around 1970. Photo: Francis (Foung) Vang, courtesy of Jasmine Haskins

Flashback: Haskins grew up in Chicago and California, where she learned to cook dumplings, fried sesame balls, baked pork buns and more from her family. She had the responsibility of making dinner for her six younger siblings, plus acting as her mother's "sidekick" while selling food at events and festivals, she says.

  • Since moving to Detroit three decades ago, Haskins has been in the restaurant industry for the last 20 years. She founded Gajiza with her husband, Denard Haskins, after her previous role as front-of-house manager for Johnny Noodle King.
  • Around four years ago, noting there were few Asian restaurants in the city compared with the suburbs — especially with homemade dumplings — Haskins decided to go into the business herself.

The intrigue: Gajiza's first event was at Motor City Wine in Corktown in April 2018, Haskins recalls. She made enough for 200 customers and sold out in less than three hours.

  • "That day, I said, 'This is my calling,'" Haskins says. "It is something I'm very passionate about. I love, I remember every single person that has come and ordered dumplings from us."

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