Caleb Wang and Jennifer Liao have been busy the past few years. The pair founded Xiao Chi Jie as a Bellevue restaurant in 2018. When the pandemic hit, they converted their operation into a frozen dumpling service, at first only serving the metro area but then expanding nationwide when they started to get requests from all over the country.
The company just went through some major changes, according to a Tuesday profile in the Seattle Times. For starters, it’s rebranded as MìLà as of last week, a combination of the Chinese words for “honey” and “spice.” Its products are going to be sold in grocery stores, including Metropolitan Market, Town & Country, and QFC stores in the Pacific Northwest as well as California Costcos. And last but not least, Simu Liu, the Chinese Canadian actor who plays Shang-Chi in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is coming aboard as the company’s chief content officer.
MìLà got Liu’s attention the same way the company gets everyone’s attention: through its dumplings. Writes the Times:
Someone knew someone who knew the Chinese Canadian movie star and reached out: Would he be interested in sampling some pork xiao long bao (soup dumpling)? A package was sent to Liu’s place in Los Angeles, where Liu’s mom and dad were visiting.
Apparently, his parents ate all the soup dumplings and didn’t save him any, according to Liao and Wang.
That stamp of approval led Liu to invest in the company and later join it. In his new role he’ll be appearing in some ad spots and chiming in on strategy. That will likely mean more visibility for the growing brand, which has already delivered over 20 million dumplings and expanded into noodles and ice cream. Next up, according to the Times, will be gluten-free and vegan dumplings.