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An organic, sustainable, gluten-free, vegan-friendly approach to tasty Chinese food.
An organic, sustainable, gluten-free, vegan-friendly approach to tasty Chinese food.
140 backers pledged $15,125 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Zai Lai Chinese Grille: Green Chinese Food project video thumbnail
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$15,125

140

STRETCH GOALS!

1. Kickstarter Party!  It took us 122 backers to hit our goal.  Now that we have the money covered, let's invite more people to the party.  If we hit 244 backers (even if it's $1/person) before time expires, EVERYONE will be invited to a special pre-opening cocktail party, just for Kickstarter backers.  Spread the word!

2. New Dish!  If we hit $17,000 before time expires, we'll take the extra money and develop a new dish inspired by the Kickstarter process.  Every backer will receive one for free.  Even better if it's served at the above party!

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THE STORY

When I used to crave good Chinese food on the fly, I would stop and lament the fact that I couldn't find a healthy option. When I gave in to the craving, my body would be angry with me a few hours later. So whenever I had the energy, I'd just make it myself -- and it tasted good.   The idea behind Zai Lai is really simple:

Use quality ingredients to make healthy Chinese food!

And I started to dream: What if we used organic and local produce? What if the meats were antibiotic-free and raised with care? What if we ran the restaurant sustainably and welcomed our gluten-free and vegan friends?

I didn't have the courage to take the plunge alone. Then my friends began encouraging me: "You're not crazy for going for it."  One of them designed the logo. Another shot the video. My wife wouldn't let me quit. This idea isn't just about me anymore. It's about a whole community coming together to make something awesome -- won't you join us?  

THE PROJECT

Money raised in this campaign will launch a pop-up version of Zai Lai Grille in April with the hope that an initial run will lead to more pop-ups and attract investors to make a brick-and-mortar location a reality. 

 "Zai Lai" means "come again" in Mandarin. In Chinese culture, people say "zai lai" the same way that we might say "see you later." As a kid visiting my family in Asia, the experience was so good, I always wanted to go back. My goal is to pass that same feeling to you: that you would eat your fill, love the experience, and then come again (hopefully bringing a friend or two). 

THE FOOD

I'm focusing on traditional Chinese dishes remixed for a New York context:

Marinated Winter Bamboo with Sweet Chinese Eggplant
Marinated Winter Bamboo with Sweet Chinese Eggplant
Shredded Chicken Smothered with Chinese BBQ Sauce and Caramelized Onions
Shredded Chicken Smothered with Chinese BBQ Sauce and Caramelized Onions
Lion's Head Meatballs; Pork, Ginger and Scallions Roasted in Rice Wine
Lion's Head Meatballs; Pork, Ginger and Scallions Roasted in Rice Wine
Braised Brisket Slow-Cooked in Chinese Herbs and Spices
Braised Brisket Slow-Cooked in Chinese Herbs and Spices
Chickpea Sweet Potato Covered in Peanut Sauce
Chickpea Sweet Potato Covered in Peanut Sauce

Each dish is carefully crafted to satisfy your craving while energizing your body.

THE RESUME

I've been catering in NYC for years and trained at the Hilton in my younger days. I helped Jehangir Mehta (Runner Up: Next Iron Chef, 2009) start his second restaurant, Mehtaphor. Plus, I'm a small business lawyer. Didn't expect that last one, did you? 

With Your Support..

...we can reimagine Chinese food for our generation.

Goji Berry Rice
Goji Berry Rice

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and for making a pledge to help make the Zai Lai pop-up a reality. If you are looking to join a pool of initial investors in Zai Lai Chinese Grille, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at edward@zailaigrille.com. 

To Green Chinese Food!
Edward Huang
Chef / Founder

Me, experimenting in my home kitchen
Me, experimenting in my home kitchen

Video Credit: Yvonne Yu
Photo Credit: Brie Passano

Risks and challenges

We've spent the last few months setting up the pop-up and working out kinks, but we anticipate that there may still be some challenges along the way. Among them:

Location and Launch Date: We're currently in talks with potential spaces, but are yet to ink a contract. We're pretty close and confident that we'll be ready to go in April, but there's always a chance that things take longer than expected.

Menu Offerings: We're super excited about each menu item, but as we fine-tune our dishes, slight changes may be made. We'll only make changes that enhance the dishes.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    ZAI LAI SUPPORTER. Welcome to the Zai Lai Community! A sweet Zai Lai sticker and project updates.

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    Pledge $8 or more About $8

    EARLY BACKER: ZAI LAI MEAL. One entree and drink of your choice.

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    ZAI LAI MEAL. One entree and drink of your choice.

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    Pledge $16 or more About $16

    EARLY BACKER: DOUBLE ZAI LAI MEAL. One entree and drink of your choice x2.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    DOUBLE ZAI LAI MEAL. One entree and drink of your choice x2.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    ZAI LAI SWAG. Fancy earth-friendly Zai Lai tote bag and a sweet Zai Lai sticker.

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    10 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    ROMANTIC DATE. Entree Sampler + Drinks + Best Seats in the House + Exclusive Tour of the Kitchen for Two.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    ROMANTIC DATE. Entree Sampler + Drinks + Best Seats in the House + Exclusive Tour of the Kitchen for Two. (Extended due to popular demand!)

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    HUNGRY (WO)MAN. Ten vouchers for an entree and drink of your choice and a sweet Zai Lai sticker.

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    8 backers
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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    TASTING PARTY. One invitation to a full menu tasting at an exclusive pre-opening party.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    CATERED HOUSE PARTY. Catered entrees for a party of 25 people with your choice of menu.

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    11 backers
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    COOK ZAI LAI. Private cooking class for you and a friend with Chef Edward.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    TASTING PARTY x4. Four invitations to a full menu tasting at an exclusive pre-opening party.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    ZAI LAI SPONSOR. Your name, business logo, or personal sentiment on Zai Lai's community wall. (Temporary posting at the pop-up + one year posting at the permanent location)

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    PRIVATE PARTY. Host 20 friends at Zai Lai with unlimited food and drinks.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    HIGH FLIER. A Zai Lai kite.

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Funding period

- (30 days)