Meet the Chirba Chirba Dumpling Squad

Photo courtesy of Chirba Chirba

A month ago today (CONGRATULATIONS), the Chirba Chirba Dumpling truck drove the streets of downtown Durham for the first time. Having only been a mere rumor amid the Durham foodie community, the four dumpling kids descended upon Fullsteam Brewery at precisely 6:14 August 3rd, 2011, for the first ever “Dumpling Raid”. Jumping out of their truck and running into the brewery, they passed out hot and delicious soup dumplings to a surprised and delighted crowd. I wish there were dumpling raids every day…at my house!!

What proceeded after was a taste, test and respond Dumpling Service Rehearsal. Chirba Chirba Dumpling set-up in the free space next to the new Scrap Exchange location in Golden Belt where friends and family had been invited to walk up to the truck, order as though they were paying customers, and then provide feedback. Of course feedback meant, “more please”. =)

My personal favorite was the Porkedame Dumpling (Team Chirba’s specialty!  Perfectly seasoned morsels of pork graced with máo dòu (edamame) in a steamy flour pocket), pan seared, with a side order of Sweet and Savory Hong Kong style sausage.  As much as I love sausage, I am not a huge fan of the sweet Asian kind (must be something wrong with me!), but Chirba Chirba? I don’t know what brand they use, but I likey!!

What does “Chirba Chirba” mean?

“Chirba Chirba” literally means “Eat eat!” in
Mandarin Chinese when you’re speaking to another person.  However the expression embodies a very warm, hospitable feeling when uttered, especially to a friend or guest.  In an attempt to communicate the intensity of warmth of “Chirba!”, one might translate it as: “This is so delicious and it makes me extremely happy to see you enjoy it without hesitation, so please, eat!”

The “official” Chirba Chirba Dumpling launch happened on Thursday August 11th, at the Durham Tweet-up hosted by myself and Design Kompany with support of the Independent, Triangle Tweet-up and Yelp. Thanks to all the other amazing food trucks who came too, you ROCK!! (Ko Kyu Bbq, Pie Pushers, Will and Pops, Parlour Durham).

It goes without saying, these Chirba Chirba Dumpling kids have taken the Durham streets by storm. Seducing us with their expert dumpling making and commanding flavors, you will surely be hunting them down.

So, who are these four friends behind the newest food truck to hit the streets of Durham? Meet Yin Song, Nate Adams, Ali Safavi and Chela Tu! (Thanks Chirba Chirba for the Bio’s)

From left to right: Ali, Yin, Nate and Chela

Yin Song– Chief Dumpling Engineer Yin always seeks answers to the ‘why’s of the world and is especially curious about all things dumpling. From tastes to textures to efficient cooking processes, Yin leads and documents test upon test,

Dumpling Service Rehearsal

making sure each Chirba dumpling is delicious and served with speed. Born in Jinan, Shandong province, Yin has been making dumplings using the “nie” (squeeze) technique since age 4 when he consistently got more filling on himself than in the dumpling until much later in life. At age 7 he arrived in the United States and at age 24 graduated from UNC with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Prior to dumpling truck ownership, Chief Dumpling Engineer was an R&D Engineer at Duke University – responsible for lab operations in the field of injury and military biomechanics. When Yin is not hard at dumpling research & development, he’s most likely salsa dancing, traveling, or testing a new dumpling recipe.

Nate Adams– The Wandering Dumpling Nate’s curly hair and Caucasian features are slightly deceptive. He was born in Charlotte, but didn’t stay long.

I love Chirba Chirba Dumplings!

Off to Asia at age four, Nate spent the next fourteen years growing up in Taiwan which explains his persistent drive to recreate the street eats of his youth. Especially dumplings which, despite roaming far and wide, are still his favorite. The Wandering Dumpling lives by the motto: “Home is where you hang your toothbrush.” When Nate conceives an idea he’s passionate about, there is no moderation and no rest until it is realized. Nate doesn’t go fishing, he skips town and becomes a commercial salmon gillnetter on a skiff in Alaska for an entire summer. A few of his favorite spots (and he has a story for each) are Purmamarka (Argentina), Pokhara (Nepal), Okinawa (Japan), Uganik Bay, (Alaska, USA), Namtso Lake (Tibet), Kenting (Taiwan), Dublin (Ireland), and Cadaqués, Spain. Northern Africa and the Middle East are next. Nate obtained a degree from UNC that says “International Studies”, but really he studies whatever he wants. The Wandering Dumpling lives for challenges and adventure. His favorites are backpacking, climbing, traveling, sampling unusual world foods, and most recently: hashing (aka getting muddy while running through the woods).

 Ali Safavi– Chirba Bizman Since childhood Ali hoped to own a start-up

Dumpling Sevice Rehearsal

business. His love of traveling and backpacking has taught him to embrace the unknown, and to seek out local street vendors for the best food in any country. Like Dionysus, Ali is the generous life of the party. If he finds something he enjoys, he shares it with everyone around him. He loved dumplings at first taste in the kitchens of his friends and true to form, Ali saw no limit in sharing his discovery. Ali is a Robotic Engineer currently working on a Master in Engineering Management-focused on entrepreneurship at Duke (2012). He earned his Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering in 2005 at UNC. Ali loves living in the moment and doing good. He feels fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family and most importantly the love of his life – Nikta – to whom he was recently engaged to. Go Ali!

Chela Tu– Her Dumplingness, doesn’t break hearts, she eats them.  Chela has a reputation for being an adventurous eater, but not for thrills. Chela knows

Chela aka Her Dumplingness

and loves every part of the food she eats.  Chicken and lamb hearts are but two of her favorite street eats.Chela aka Her Dumplingness. The second love of Chela’s life (second to dumplings, that is) is beer.  When Chela isn’t chasing dumpling recipes or eating weird stuff, you can find her brewing beer, learning Polish, going far places, organizing flash mobs, and leaping into rock quarries. Born in Maine, grew up in Beijing, graduated from UNC, Chela is at peace wherever cultures collide and tasty things are on the table.  Prior to the non-stop Chirba life, Her Dumplingness made her way as an Event Coordinator and Chinese teacher for kids.  She’s also known to volunteer for more projects than there is time in a day for.  Chela firmly believes in the strength of community and collaboration.

To get your fill of dumplings, follow Chirba Chirba on Twitter and Facebook.


Happy Eating Friends,



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