SEATTLE — Chinese food brand Xiao Chi Jie has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Imaginary Ventures. The startup ships frozen soup dumplings, Chinese barbecue skewers and noodle kits nationwide.
Second-generation Chinese Americans Jennifer Liao and Caleb Wang launched the company as a fast-casual restaurant concept four years ago. At the onset of the pandemic, the pair began freezing and delivering batches of soup dumplings locally and soon received inquiries about national shipping. In late 2020, the founders repositioned the business as a direct-to-consumer packaged food brand, sending more than 10 million products to homes across the country since.
The latest addition to the product lineup is a trio of frozen noodle kits, including a plant-based option developed in collaboration with Impossible Foods. Offerings include Sichuan Dan Dan noodles, Beijing Zha Jiang noodles and Shanghai Scallion Oil noodles.
“Despite its prevalence in the US, Chinese cuisine, and the magic and craftsmanship of regional culinary traditions, is woefully underrepresented — especially in the consumer packaged goods space,” Ms. Liao said. “We're excited to partner with Imaginary to change that and continue sharing the diversity and rich depth of the food that we grew up loving.”
Xiao Chi Jie, which roughly translates to “street food avenue,” will use the funding to “focus on high-quality products and customer experience, lean into cultural experiences and education, and explore paths to increase accessibility.” Additionally, the startup plans to rebrand next year to reflect its continued expansion into new categories and dishes, Ms. Liao said, noting, “we want a new name that can continue to grow with us as we invite more people to learn about our food and culture.”
Imaginary Ventures, based in New York, invests in technology-enabled brands and platforms.
“When you break down the $50 billion Chinese food market category, it’s evident there is a powerful and accelerating consumer demand,” said Logan Langberg, partner at Imaginary Ventures. “While the category is massive, it is in large part comprised solely of restaurants. What’s missing from the market is a CPG brand that is an honest representation of authentic Chinese food with the ability to dominate online, wholesale and foodservice to become a staple in American households. We believe XCJ is that. Excellent quality products, technical founders, vertical integration capabilities and 300% growth just this year further underscore that belief, and we are beyond excited to partner with them.”Additional investors include actor Simu Liu, Goldhouse Ventures and Hyphen Capital, as well as consumer brands founders Jason Wang, Gabi Lewis, Katrina Lake, Scott Cutler, Shan-lyn Ma, Colin McCabe and others.