US-India Global Review

16 THE INDIAN AMERICAN JULY-SEPTEMBER 2017 48 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 seem to occupy every other store- front. This one is bright and cheery, with lush plants, pale walls and a print of a pineapple. It reflects the tastes of its propri- etors, Hannah and Marian Cheng, 31 and 29, respectively. So does the menu, which is dotted with Taiwanese fare such as scallion pancakes and beef noodle soup, and also a macro bowl served with lemon-tahini dressing. The sisters grew up in Upstate New York eating a mash-up of cuisines: Their father was raised in Taipei, where the cooking is light and not particularly spicy, while their mother was raised in Thailand. After Hannah graduated with a finance degree from Georgetown University, and Marian graduated from the University of Maryland having studied international business, they floated the idea of a restau- rant. "Our parents," says Hannah, "were horrified and terrified." "They were like, 'Why are you opening a Chinese takeout restau- rant? We sent you to college.' " They've adapted the fast casual model for their vision, with collab- orations such as a truffle foie gras soup dumpling, crafted with Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, and a vegan sweet potato- black bean-quinoa dumpling, with the trendy By Chloe. Complaints about authenticity plague the sisters. "It's a running theme in the Yelp reviews," says Marian. "Organic chicken, or kale or zucchini, you're not going to find that in Taipei. But it's authen- tic to our family." Others, sometimes other Chinese or Taiwanese Americans, complain about the price, which can be $12.50 for a bowl of chick- en noodle soup. It's a subject that comes up repeatedly for second- generation restaurateurs. The criticism is frequently an "Asian-on-Asian hate crime," Hannah jokes. But in all serious- ness, she says, "We have a huge gripe with it. Ultimately, it's racism." "We use the same meat distrib- utors that the best restaurants in the city are using. We use the same vegetable distributors. So why would our meat be cheaper? Because we're Asian?" Sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng opened a dumpling shop in Nolita, on the edge of NewYork's Chinatown. Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.