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Inside the Loop’s Charming New Chinese Dumpling Den

JIAO, from the owners of QXY Dumplings, should soon open on Wabash Avenue

The entrance to a Chinese dumpling restaurant with plenty of light woods, bright lights, and more.
JIAO should soon open in the Loop.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

One of Chicago’s most popular Chinese restaurants, Qing Xiang Yuan, is about to hatch a fast-casual cousin in the Loop. JIAO is still waiting for licenses, but it should open soon at 18 S. Wabash Avenue.

When QXY opened in 2014 inside the Richland Food Court, the restaurant mostly targeted Chinatown regulars. JIAO is ownership’s attempt at spreading dumpling love mainstream. Armed with a cute new mascot, the company hopes to open locations across America.

QXY and JIAO uses a family recipe passed on for generations. Founder Jiefang Man claims it’s a 300-year-old secret recipe. Since 2014 at QXY’s original location and the new space it moved into in 2015, Man claims to have served 5.5 million dumplings in varieties including pork & cabbage, lamb & coriander, and chicken & mushroom.

Wanting to keep up with busy downtown Chicago office workers, JIAO’s owner has modernized its ordering system. Management developed its own smartphone apps instead of purchasing an existing app and reskinning it for their purpose. The goal is to have food ready within five minutes of an order. The app will be launched on iOS and Android.

Ownership has worked hard on developing a clean and warm space. They’ve created a mascot, named JIAO, and used it on stuffed dolls and T-shirts. JIAO will also introduce QXY’s new tea line, CHA, to the states. Customers will find milk teas at the restaurant.

Take a stroll through the 60-seat, 1,700-square-foot space below. There’s still no official opening date, so come back for updates.

A Chinese restaurant’s friendly mascot standing in front of its entrance.
JIAO has created a friendly mascot.
The front of JIAO, a Chinese restaurant.
The typeface was meant to combine Chinese and American aesthetics.
The first column at JIAO.
The boxes contain T-shirts and the story of the restaurant.
Plush dolls with red cheeks and smiles.
These plush dolls are cute.
A closeup of items to purchase.
More swag to purchase.
Counter seating with 10 stools overlooking a window.
Window seating overlooking the “L.”
CHA is the restaurant’s tea brand.
JIAO is a brand that wants to cater to more Americans.
The hall looking toward the back.
It’s brighter lit when compared to QXY in Chinatown.
A curvy low counter with wooden stools underneath.
Plenty of nooks for a quick lunch.
A long, white table in the middle, and smaller tables on the left.
The seating in back.
More seating.
JIAO educates the room about its design choices.
A neon sign shaped like the JIAO mascot in white and red in between bathroom doors.
JIAO has gone neon.

JIAO

18 W. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL Visit Website

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