Marian & Hannah Cheng, Owners, Mimi Cheng's Dumplings


Hannah: We grew up in Rockland County, in New York, which is about 45 minutes north of Manhattan. For college, I went Georgetown in DC.

Marian: I went to the University of Maryland in College Park. Studied business. It was nice to be close. Our parents were very excited about being able to visit both of us in one shot.

Hannah: It made it easy. When we finished, we both knew we wanted to come back [to the city]. It was nice to go somewhere for four years to have a different experience.

Marian: The love of food came from our family. Our mom’s an amazing cook. She doesn’t have recipes, but she was born and raised in Thailand, and then she moved over to Taiwan, so she has such an influence of different Asian cuisines.

Hannah: In high school I thought I wanted to be an investment banker. And then I ended up going into sales and trading, and then food!

Marian: We talked about it for a good two years and then I decided to quit fashion, which was originally what I wanted to do. Sweetgreen was opening up their first location in New York at the time, and Hannah is friends with the owner, so I went to go apprentice there. It was their first location in New York, and it was chaos. I worked the salad line— I did opening and closing duties and helped supervise people.

Hannah: At the time, I worked at JP Morgan on the trade floor. But we’re big believers in fate. It’s like, oh you want to do this? You already have friends who are doing this. Multiple friends. So we were lucky to have those resources. [At Mimi Cheng’s] everything on the menu is stuff we like to eat. We make everything from scratch every single day. We wanted to make sure it was super fresh. The East Village has so many cool little niche restaurants, and we felt like it would be the right place.

Marian: The community is very diverse. It still has such a neighborhood vibe.

Hannah: Owning a restaurant was always a dream. The more we talked about it, it finally got to a point where were like, OK. Either do it or stop talking about it. You can only talk about something so much.

Marian: Our mother has such a beauty routine. She would always tell us to push up, lightly tap the skin on our faces—like a face massage.

Hannah: She had us starting on eye cream since we were probably 13. I just got a new Dr. Dennis Gross one, which I like so far.

Marian: I have an Herbivore one too. We would always go into our mom’s room and look at all her products and try different things out.

Hannah: But she would also say, 'That’s really expensive. Don’t put that whole thing on your face.'

Marian: My makeup look is natural, glowy, and bright.

Hannah: She knows what she’s doing!

Marian: I basically do the same thing every day. I have this Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Cleansing Cream. I love that it’s light. So I use that every morning. After I brush my teeth, I always drink a glass of lemon water.

Hannah: I always try to alternate between all my products because I feel like your skin and your hair get really used to stuff, so I like to shock it. I’m really loving the Aesop Facial Cleansing Oil right now. I’m also obsessed with masks. I keep them in the refrigerator and I always bring one when I travel. One of the ones I’m loving right now is the Dr. Dennis Gross sulphur mask. The second you put it on, it minimizes your pores.

Marian: I use masks once in a while. Maybe once every other week. Not as frequently as Hannah, but they’re definitely good. [I have one from] Herbivore that I like.

Hannah: At night, I’ll put avocado oil on my face. And I love the Glossier Priming Moisturizer during the day, especially for summer time.

Marian: I have a moisturizer from Trader Joe’s I like. It’s hypoallergenic and pretty lightweight. I also like the Glossier Priming Moisturizer because it’s such a great base for makeup as well.

Hannah: I love cleansing oils for the body too. Glossier’s Body Hero and the Le Labo shower oil are both really good. I’ll do about two days of oil, and then one day of foaming cleanser. And then for body lotion, Marian got me this Björk & Berries body lotion from Stockholm that I love. It smells so good. It has sea buckthorn berries in it.

Marian: And the packaging is adorable.

Hannah: Yeah. It smells so good. For my hair, I only shampoo it twice or three times a week. I’ll rinse it out with water because I work out a lot, and then use conditioner. Andalou for conditioner.

Marian: I use Björk & Berries for the shampoo and conditioner. And then I use a heat protector spray because I like to curl my hair as well.

Hannah: She loves hairspray.

Marian: Because I love volume! I’m also usually tired when I wake up, so I need some sort of concealer. The one I use is Revlon Photoready. And then I’m all about the illuminators. I love the one from Well People. It’s a glow stick. Any illuminator type of thing makes me feel awake.

Hannah: You’re really obsessed with the illuminators.

Marian: I am. And I definitely wear blush. I use the Hourglass Ambient Lighting in Luminous Flush. All about the illuminating.

Hannah: She’s basically a big sparkle. [Laughs] I use Lancôme concealer, and my favorite mascara is Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir. And then we’re both obsessed with lipsticks. My favorite brand is Bite beauty.

Marian: It’s food-grade. It’s perfect for us. [Laughs]

Hannah: Zinfandel is one of my favorites for summer, and I love Pink Lady. I wear blush too—Bare Minerals. Blush just makes everyone look so happy and alive. Everybody should wear blush.

Marian: For fragrance, I love my Le Labo scentLys 41. I love that one. My favorite non-perfume fragrance is this African shea butter. Linnie Drew. I got it at a store in Venice Beach.

Hannah: The Collective, I think it’s called.

Marian: That’s it, yeah.

Hannah: So, we are really into probiotics. Love Wellness Good Girl Probiotics. We also love oregano oil pills. They’re supposed to be a natural antibiotic for your stomach that promotes good gut health. We’re really into that. We’re also both obsessed with S10, which is a personal training gym here in Tribeca. It’s the most efficient workout. I used to not be a believer in personal training until three sessions in. It was like, if I did this, I would only have to do it two or three times a week, instead of working out five times a week. I had never been able to do a pullup ever in my life. And in eight weeks, I could do a pullup.

Marian: Yeah. They make you do all these different workouts, or moves, that you don’t do at a normal gym.

Hannah: It’s so efficient and targeted.

Marian: We also take Thorne. It’s an amino acid. And I also like the grass-fed collagen protein, then definitely some sort of B-complex. And a vegetarian multivitamin.

Hannah: We usually start the morning off with matcha. We love House of Matcha—we order it online from Japan. It’s so good. You get so much energy from it, but I don’t get the acidity from matcha that I get from coffee.

Marian: Or the headaches from coffee.

Hannah: But I still enjoy the ritual of making coffee. I love it when people want coffee so I can make it. You know the size they make for espresso? That’s how much coffee I can drink.

Marian: I like to mix my matcha with Oatly oat milk. It’s so good and creamy. It’s part of the morning routine too.

Hannah: If you’re going to use honey, we love the raw honey from Union Square Farmers Market. It’s so good. It’s flavored by season. Whatever’s in season—what the bees are pollinating. They say it’s really good to help prevent allergies. Local pollen. It’s medicine.

For massage, I love this cheap Chinese massage place on Bleecker and Laguardia called Five Seasons Healing. I ask for Jack. It’s like $40 an hour, and the guy works out kinks. It’s pretty new.

Marian: I have one in Chinatown I like.

Hannah: But yours is dodgy looking.

Marian: It is dodgy looking, but I love it. It’s Renew Spa. On 42 Bowery.

Hannah: You walk up to the fourth floor, you’re not sure if the stairs will hold you up.

Marian: No, they renovated. [Laughs]

—as told to ITG

Marian and Hannah Cheng photographed by Tom Newton on January 9, 2018.