Lao Wang Remains a Comforting Classic for Taiwanese Fare in Denver | Westword

In the Midst of Denver's Dumpling Boom, Lao Wang Remains a Comforting Classic

This family-run operation has been in business for 25 years and still serves some of the best Taiwanese eats in town.
Lao Wang's potstickers are a must-order.
Lao Wang's potstickers are a must-order. Molly Martin
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"We've seen a lot of new places pop up, which are great, and which is really awesome for awareness and all that," says Danny Wang. "There's a dumpling renaissance here."

But his parents began serving dumplings on South Federal Boulevard long before the current boom of new spots such as Nana's (which now has three locations), Bryan's Dumplings in the DTC and Chopstickers on the 16th Street Mall.

Originally from Taiwan, Chung-Ming and Tse-Ming Wang opened Lao Wang 25 years ago. Together, the couple ran a tight ship at the small spot that has some well-known ground rules, including no second orders (so you'd better get it right the first time) and no split checks. Walking in and seating yourself is a no-no, too, and breaking any of the rules could earn you a fast scolding.
click to enlarge "house rules" typed on a piece of paper
The house rules at Lao Wang. Most important, Mom is always right.
Molly Martin
For two decades, not much changed at Lao Wang. Then came  2020. In order to navigate pandemic restrictions, Danny had to set up online ordering for the restaurant for the first time. "We would get an order, and I would text Mom the name and the order — ’cause they're not going to check emails," he remembers. "It was wild."

Then in 2021, Tse-Ming passed away at the age of 76, but Chung-Ming hasn't slowed down. With the help of her son and his partner, Frances, Lao Wang has continued to serve its concise menu of homestyle Taiwanese fare, including its famed pan-seared potstickers filled with ground pork ($13.95) and the soup dumplings ($12.95 for ten) that you must eat soon after they hit the table so as not to miss the perfect moment when the broth is still piping hot, but cool enough to not burn your tongue.
click to enlarge a steamer tray filled with dumplings
The noodles and wrappers for items like soup dumplings at Lao Wang all come from Kwan Sang down the street.
Molly Martin
In February, Chung-Ming suffered a broken back, but even that only put her and the business on pause for about a month and a half. She's back to her regular routine now, spending most days working at the restaurant from 9 a.m. until close as she cooks, serves and takes orders.

"We're still around and sticking to our roots," Danny assures. "We do our best to be traditional — this is what Mom and Dad cook, this is what they've done, and that's what we're sticking with."

The menu reflects the type of homestyle cuisine that was made in Taiwan from the post-World War II era to around 1980, "before the global influence that happened soon after that," Danny notes. "It's something we're hanging on to, and really proud of."
click to enlarge meat sauce on noodles with green onion garnish
Lao Wang's newest addition is lu rou mian, Taiwanese braised pork noodles.
Molly Martin

While the staple items taste just as they have for years, Danny and Chung-Ming have been playing around with some new additions based on recipes from Tse-Ming. "We have handwritten recipes, which is amazing. It's really cool," says Danny. "Things are measured out not in like, it's a cup of this, but like it's a scoop of this — and use this scoop, not that scoop."

One that's currently on offer is lu rou mian ($11.95), Taiwanese braised pork that's heavily seasoned with five spice and braised for over ten hours, resulting in a sauce reminiscent of a classic Bolognese or Cincinnati-style chili and served over bouncy noodles. The resulting dish is like a flavorful hug that's savory and deeply flavored.

"I remember my family making that when I was a kid," Danny says. "I love how traditional things like this are so simple. There's not a ton of extra things. This is the food, this is it. It's simple, but it's also hard to make. The amount of time Mom puts into making this, it's pretty amazing."
click to enlarge
Molly Martin
In August, Chung-Ming will turn 84, and Danny is thinking about the long-term plans for the family business. While he's not ready to share any details just yet, he is excited for the future of Lao Wang.

The last few years have brought some big challenges for Danny and his family, but Lao Wang keeps cooking. "Nothing's changed, and it's still as delicious as ever," Danny concludes.

And we wholeheartedly agree.

Lao Wang is located at 945 South Federal Boulevard and is open from 11:30 to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit
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