Dumpling Lab opened at 214 E 9th St in the heart of New York’s East Village on October 14, 2021. Following the team’s success with its opening of Hunan Slurp in 2018, Dumpling Lab will bring contemporary dumplings and dishes inspired by regional Tsingtao flavors in its futuristic 2-floor and 30-seat restaurant.
Food & Drink
Helmed by Chef Xiaomei Ma and founded by Chao Wang and Lu Dong, all of whom are from the Hunan Slurp team, Dumpling Lab is a contemporary Chinese restaurant that celebrates the embracing culture that defines New York City in the form of dumplings and dishes inspired by Tsingtao flavors. The dumplings section leads the seafood-forward menu, highlighting Mackerel Dumplings made with Spanish Mackerel, Pork, Chive, and Dried shellfish.
“Just like New York, Tsingtao is a coastal city where we grow up eating a lot of mackerel, especially mackerel dumplings. To recreate that hometown flavor in New York, we added dried shellfish to bring out the most sea flavors,” says Ma, Head Chef of Dumpling Lab.
To embrace the diversity of the city’s culinary culture, Ma added flavors such as Organic chicken dumplings made with wood ear and corn and Zucchini & cucumber dumplings made with eggs and vermicelli to the menu.
“Dumpling is such an accommodating and all-embracing medium to work with. It can wrap all the best flavors you can imagine in its dough. We do not want to limit ourselves to only ‘authentic’ flavors but rather experiment with the ingredients, hence the name ‘Dumpling Lab.’”
The menu is then followed by cold dishes such as Shunde native’s favorite Shun De Crudo — Sashimi of the day, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, scallion, crisps and peanut with special soy dressing and hot dishes including a creative Truffle Shrimp Toast made with shrimp paste, and a reinvented Mapo Silky Tofu made with mixed mushroom instead of a meat sauce.
Finally, draft cocktails such as Kochi Breeze — shochu, yuzu, lemon, elderflower, shiso, miso — are created by friend Xin Feng to complement the eclectic dishes. Feng is a Certified Sommelier at the Court of Master Sommelier and is one of the only 14 people in the US who passed the annual Sake Diploma exam at the Japanese Sommelier Association in 2020. With a vision of bringing exceptional yet affordable beverages to Asian food lovers, Feng created the drink menu that encourages people to pair humble food such as dumplings with unexpected drinks.
Team & Interior
In addition to her upbringing in Tsingtao and the two-year cooking experience at Hunan Slurp, Ma comes from a background in Economics and an auditor at PwC after graduation, where she developed a rigorous and meticulous character. Highly committed to the consistency of taste and efficient operation, Ma is precise to the gram when designing the recipes. She has also replaced a lot of the kitchen labor with machines, including vegetable cutters and combi ovens, to improve efficiency, which is rarely practiced in Chinese restaurants.
Co-founder Chao Wang envisioned the futuristic interior of the restaurant that occupies the street and basement level of the building on East 9th Street. Inspired by cyberpunk style, the 2-floor dining area is clad with stainless steel tables and clear acrylic chairs, brass metal lighting details complemented by Terrazzo floors, leather banquette benches, stainless steel walls, and ripple-effect ceilings. To create a visual juxtaposition between natural and manmade, Chao added greenery to the wall and behind the LED-backlit translucent PVC panels, and the street floor is embraced in a warm yellow hue while the lower level is lit in a cool blue tone.
“Since we had conceived the project in 2019, Dumpling Lab was meant to be a contactless experience to simulate how people would eat in the future, which was only brought forward by the pandemic,” says Chao Wang, an artist painter himself.
“To manifest the idea of a lab, we designed the space further to create a strong impact on the sensory experience,” says Wang.
Dumpling Lab will operate in an environment that is safe for guests and employees alike. The new location has taken appropriate measures recommended by the CDC and NYS Health Department while offering QR code menus for customers to enjoy contact-free ordering. Dumpling Lab will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 pm until 10 pm.