Bellevue native’s Jennifer Liao and her fiancé Caleb Wang had the vision to bring an authentic, Shanghainese dumpling experience to the states after falling in love during their travels.
After months of research, they found an opportunity to create something that wasn’t readily available to the public in the Northwest — a hawker-style street food concept serving quick-service dumplings.
Locals can now rejoice for not having to fly all the way to Shanghai to get these tasty bites. The fast-casual restaurant Xiao Chi Jie is located downtown Bellevue inside the Soma Towers, 278 106th Ave. N.E.
Also check out more great eateries including Just Poké, Fika Coffee, Kung Fu Tea, and FogRose here.
The duo teamed up with Mercer Island native’s Danny Brawer and Norman Wu, owners of nine Just Poké restaurants, to finalize the concept and make the dream a reality.
Xiao Chi Jie’s chef and business partner, Brian Yong, a former e-commerce manager from Microsoft booked a one-way ticket to Shanghai to learn the authentic techniques and preparation of the Sheng Jian Bao a.k.a. pan-fried dumplings to maintain its authentic roots.
The Sheng Jian Bao is usually filled with pork and gelatin that melts into soups and liquids when cooked has been one of the most common breakfast items in Shanghai since the early 1900s.
Yong received training in Northern Shanghai in the City of Baoshan — a prefecture-level city in western Yunnan province. For two months, Yong shadowed the master Sheng Jian Bao maker from dusk to dawn starting at 3 a.m. and not getting done until 8 p.m.
The process starts off by making fresh dough, then folding the dumplings and frying and steaming them to order. You can think of her as the Jiro Dream of Sushi of baos. Note, these shops are open seven days a week and run all day long. After mastering the recipe, Yong flew to Beijing to learn how the locals make the Jian Bing, a traditional Chinese street food similar to crepes. It is a type of bing generally eaten for breakfast and hailed as “one of China’s most popular street breakfasts.” Once these were mastered, he booked his one-way ticket to the states to implement it at Xiao Chi Jie.
The name Xiao Chi Jie translates to “little street eats” similar to Spanish tapas where guests are encouraged to order a number of dishes and share amongst friends. The fast-casual restaurant focuses on sheng jian bao, jian bing, rice bowls, and sides. We broke down the menu for you here:
Sheng Chi Jie
The first menu item is the signature dish, the Sheng Chi Jie. A flavorful, hot, juicy pork dumpling that has an incredible crispy outer layer with a tender, chewy inner texture.
The second menu item is the Jian Bing. A traditional Chinese wrap with egg, crispy wontons, cilantro, pickled radish, lettuce, sesame seeds and super secret sauce.
The third menu item is Rice Bowls. Guests can select their choice of protein: A) Scallion chicken, slow simmered in court bouillon, house ginger scallion sauce. B) Grandma’s spiced beef, stewed in a 100+ day, spiced mother, dressed in Grandma’s chili oil. C) Slow-braised pork belly that is melt-in-your-mouth perfection.