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The Loop’s New Den of Dumpling Delights Opens Today

JIAO, a fast-casual spot from the owner Chinatown’s QXY, offers eight varieties of dumplings and more

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A dining room entrance with blond wood and large black signs that read “JIAO.”
JIAO opens today in the Loop.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Those Chinese dumpling dreams come true today in the Loop as JIAO, the fast-casual cousin of Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings in Chinatown opens. QXY’s owners have designed a restaurant to scale across America, and want to open locations in different neighborhoods, not just the immigrant enclave where it debuted. Today, that goal grows a little closer with the opening at 18 S. Wabash Avenue.

The quick-serve dumpling spot from founder Jiefang Man features a modernized ordering system facilitated by a branded iPhone and Android app designed to have food hot and ready within five minutes of ordering. JIAO’S menu, which Man claims is based on a 300-year-old secret family recipe, proffers eight types of dumplings (steamed or pan-fried for $1 extra) in varieties such as shrimp, pork, and leek; lamb and coriander; and truffle and beef. A selection of small appetizers is also available. These include spicy cabbage kimchi and soybean sprout salad. The full menu is available below.

JIAO takes a similarly detail-oriented approach to tea and is launching QXY’s new tea line, CHA. The restaurant offers its diners “Skyline,” cold tea drinks in flavors such as jasmine and oolong topped with “Cream Cold Foam” (available sweet or salted), a play on trendy Asian drink cheese tea.

Renovations on the 60-seat, 1,700-square-foot space that formerly housed a clothing store cost the company $1.5 million. During planning stages Loop location manager Eric Zhou, who also runs QXY, stressed the importance of efficiency. Designed to combine Chinese and Western aesthetics, the restaurant bears a wall-size recreation of Song Dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan’s famous work ‘Along the River During the Qingming Festival.’ Other Chinese architectural elements are apparent in design details such as dougong (wooden brackets) and round hole windows.

Man has big plans for the brand: In June, Zhou said that he plans to open three or four more locations downtown in the next three years, and hopes to land a spot at O’Hare International Airport in 2021.

The first of the brand is now open on South Wabash Avenue in the Loop.

JIAO, 18 S. Wabash Avenue, Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Sunday.

JIAO

18 W. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL Visit Website

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