Anyone who knows Molly knows that dumplings are her favorite food. So when she heard of a new dumpling spot that offers boiled dumplings using organic, healthy ingredients like shiitake mushrooms and kale, she ran right over.
We had a blast sitting down with Marian Cheng over her famous “Mimi Cheng” and “Mighty Veggie” dumplings to hear what inspired her and her sister, Hannah, to open a restaurant using their mom’s secret recipes.
Tell us the story behind Mimi Cheng’s.
When my sister Hannah and I moved to NYC, we were hunting for dumplings that tasted as good and wholesome as our Mom’s. She would use organic meat and vegetables directly from her vegetable garden. After an unsuccessful search, the only conclusion was to make them ourselves.
As for Mimi’s Secret Sauce (made by their mom), her killer dumpling sauce was coined “secret sauce” as she never told us the recipe up until a year before we were serious about opening our restaurant. It was her way of getting us home during college breaks. Thankfully we had her with us the summer we opened and got her stamp of approval. We teased Mimi saying it was her summer internship.
How is it working with your sister?
It’s awesome. There’s no skirting around issues, we understand each other and know each other’s strengths. We actually also live together, but it’s a rarity to see each other at home because of our schedules.
What is your ideal day of food?
As soon as I wake up, guzzle lemon with water, then make a MASSIVE matcha latte with Panatea matcha and almond milk. I’m obsessed. Breakfast from Two Hands, lunch would be two parts: a salad from Sweetgreen and a square pepperoni slice from Prince Street Pizza. As for dinner, I’ve been really loving Babu Ji for Indian. Of course, I'd make room for dumplings at some point in the day!
Which is your favorite dumpling?
My favorite is the half chicken, half veggie order. And, I’m always a fan of the specials.
Did you consider nutrition when you developed the menu?
Definitely. Traditional Chinese dumplings are pork (and who knows where the meat is from), but we pride ourselves on using local and sustainable meats. Our namesake dumpling is the chicken one, which we chose because it’s a healthier and leaner meat. Also, we grew up eating so many vegetables from our mom’s garden, so it was natural to incorporate a vegetable dumpling that has a lot of different, vibrant vegetables. We call our veggie dumpling the “other green juice”.
How would you say Mimi Cheng’s stands apart from all the other dumpling places popping up?
Good and positive vibes along with food made with lots of love and quality ingredients. Our dumplings are made fresh everyday.
We wanted to create a welcoming place, which is why we have a communal table and our décor is sunny and bright (plus we love the beach). We’re all about community. There’s something fun about sharing dumplings at a communal table. I actually once saw two strangers at the communal table chatting and ended up swapping dumplings to try more flavors! It was cute to see.
Favorite restaurant right now?
Hard one! I can’t pick just one. ABC Kitchen is always a staple; others are Kiki’s, Dimes, Upstate, Babu Ji, and Mission Chinese (their bread service is next level) among others.
Ingredient you cant live without?
Lemon juice and avocado
Food you won’t touch?
What is the best advice anyone ever gave to you when you were starting your own business?
To take as many pictures and write in a journal. It is so nice to reflect on the details of our journey opening up the restaurant because it was such a whirlwind while it was all happening.
Another great piece of advice is if you want to open your own restaurant, go work at a place similar so you really know the ins and outs.
How do you stay healthy?
I love being active. I frequent Barry’s Bootcamp, Kore Method, and Yoga Vida. I’m on Classpass, so it enables me to try different studios all the time and mix up my routines.