In 2006, twin sisters Kia Jackson and Chanel Donahue began traveling across China as a means to study Mandarin Chinese.
Jackson and Donahue are now both conversationally fluent in the language, so mission No. 1 was accomplished. But the trips also brought about an unintended result. While eating their way through various towns, the pair became something of dumpling connoisseurs.
Now, they, along with brother Chris Jackson plan to share their newfound passion with the Twin Cities when they open their Lyn-Lake neighborhood restaurant Mrs. Dumpling in mid-to-late December.
“They’ve eaten at all kinds of restaurants throughout China and other Asian countries,” said Chris Jackson of his sisters via email. “Everything from hole-in-the-wall dumpling shops to world-famous restaurants boasting Michelin stars.
“They wanted to bring back the dumpling shop experience to the Twin Cities.”
After visiting his sisters, Chris agreed that the idea filled a need in Minneapolis, which does boast another dumpling restaurant – the simply named ‘Dumpling’ – on Minnehaha Avenue. The three enlisted Dan Prentice, the former head chef at Unideli at United Noodles, to achieve their dumpling dream at the corner of Lake St. and Lyndale Avenue.
When they open their doors around the holidays, Prentice will be churning out a variety of Asian dumplings – tang bao (soup dumplings), potstickers and gyoza – as well as shengjian bao (steamed buns), spring rolls and wontons. Ultimately, they plan to serve wine and beer but might not have the license available immediately upon opening. The team plans to offer counter-service for lunch and dinner seven days a week as well as a late-night walk-up window after the dining room is closed during patio season on Fridays and Saturdays.
“The idea came from eating at dumpling shops in Beijing and Shanghai so small that they were essentially just walk-up windows,” said Chris. “We’re shooting for a casual and quick dining experience.”
(Photo of dumplings above is via the New York Times)