This week's Nails of New York spotlights Marian and Hannah Cheng. They started the delicious dumpling restaurant, Mimi Cheng's, three and a half years ago with a passion to cherish and share their mom's insanely good and healthy recipes. Growing up influenced by their mother and the delicacies of her kitchen, this Taiwanese craze has certainly taken off in lower Manhattan.
The two have an instant warmth and ease that radiates the moment you meet them. And their presence is certainly a powerful one as they make and serve dumplings, oversee the approachability of their restaurant, and seem to be gracefully growing their brand in all sectors–with the most recent collaboration celebrating other influential sisters and their favorite family recipes. Read more to learn about their love of minimal color and design palettes, their secrets to maintaining a healthy hand glow, and their advice for spreading kindness in New York City.
Why do you paint your nails?
Manicures are a small luxury that go a long way. It gives you a time to relax, catch up with friends, and makes you feel put together.
Do you have go-to nail palettes and designs?
Do you have any hand care "secrets" you swear by?
We wash our hands a lot being in the kitchen, so we make sure we moisturize after each wash. We like Aesop's hand balm or natural shea butter for during the day and goe oil or organic raw coconut oil for overnight.
When did you have your aha moment for Mimi Cheng's?
About three and a half years ago we couldn't find any healthy and tasty dumplings like mom's. Marian left Burberry and did a short stint for our friends' restaurant, Sweetgreen. We like to call it her apprenticeship. Hannah left JP Morgan earlier this year and jumped right in.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
We get to create things we want to eat on the menu and see other people experience the same joy we get out of food. We also get to be a part of people's everyday special moments, which is so special to us. The other most rewarding part is seeing our team develop into the a-team as we call them. It has been a great and rich experience to do life with them.
What's it like having your sister be your business partner?
It's the best–candid, and generally seamless.
Tell us a little bit about your new sister dumpling recipes.
We are incredible excited for our Sister Series. We wanted to celebrate the special bond between sisters and the recipes unique to other families, so we tapped some of our favorite friends who are sisters themselves. Our December collaboration is with Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato of Lizzie Fortunato Jewelry. We're currently serving their family's winter chili recipe in a dumpling form: pasture-raised beef, bell peppers, sautéed onions, cheddar cheese, and beans, topped with hot sauce, sour cream, and scallions.
You seem to know everyone in New York–how have you made NYC seem so small?
New York can definitely be a tough city to meet people. You have to take initiative and follow up with new people that you meet. When people invite you out to random events, step outside of your comfort zone. Friendliness begets friendliness.