Chirba Chirba Dumplings’ food truck is offering authentic pan Asian cuisine right on the streets of Greenville, bringing locals a taste of traditional Chinese cooking.
Based in Durham, North Carolina, the business mainly operates in the Triangle area of the state and parts of eastern North Carolina, including Greenville.
Nate Adams, an American raised in Taiwan, founded the business in 2011 with his brother as a passion project with the intention of exposing others to the food he grew up eating. Other partners soon joined and they were able to purchase a truck to offer their catering services.
“I was raised in Taiwan from age four to 18, and came back to attend college at UNC. I met the people who helped start our business and we started in 2011,” Adams said. “We enjoyed cooking foods from our childhood. A couple of years later, I bought out my partners and we’ve been rolling ever since.”
Adams prides himself on Chirba Chirba’s approach to their craft. Mainly focusing on Chinese style dumplings, they also cater to other forms of Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. Though, it took some time for his confidence to build as he watched his business spread from the Triangle to New York City, even winning Best Food Truck for the Triangle area.
Adams said he was unsure Chirba Chirba would be popular among his eastern North Carolina audience at first and was surprised when it ended up reaching foodies as far as New York City.
“When we first had the idea, I assumed it wouldn’t catch. Lo and behold, we hit from day one and we had to produce a lot of dumplings really quickly. We’ve been able to spread our footprint as far as New York through social media,” Adams said.
The food truck not only offers sweet and savory pork style dumplings, but includes traditional menu items with their own twist such as “Sasquash,” a kobucha squash with tofu, ginger, peanuts, green onions and homemade vinaigrette and “Bok to the future” with bok choy, leeks, chives and mushrooms.
Adams also strives to maintain the style of cooking that went into his childhood meals, but stressed that his dumplings may be new to a local tongue. He went into detail on the training that his crew received, as well as his motivation for the business.
“I train my crew because our product is not as developed as barbecue or pizza. For someone in the area, it may be their first exposure to a Chinese style dumpling. I think food is a way to build bridges. There’s no reason why a 15 year old kid from North Carolina can’t get the same exposure that I did when I was a kid,” Adams said.
Madison Mundy, a former employee, now serves as the event coordinator for Chirba Chirba Dumplings. She joined the crew in 2017, and offered her own thoughts on where the business could go, and what impact it’s had on the area thus far.
“When you think about a food truck, you don’t realize that they do more than open their window and serve. It’s a really hard industry to stay afloat in, and even though Chirba is an older truck, I think it stands out at the top,” Mundy said.
She also expressed the need for an Asian influence on local cuisine, stating that food trucks “offer an opportunity for people to try new foods at a reasonable price tag,” adding that she would like to see truck “move to brick and mortar stage.”
Ashley Cogdell, a former employee of Chirba, worked with the business for seven years before becoming a food consultant. She described her experience as “positive” and explained what exactly made the truck such a success in a short period of time.
“Chirba gained popularity quickly because there’s not many Chinese food trucks in our area. We tried to use as many local ingredients as we could, and it caught on like wildfire,” Cogdell said.
She also spoke on her training as a chef for Chirba, which included a trip to Taiwan where she was educated on the local cuisine. Having no experience in Asian cuisine before joining the staff, Cogdell described the experience as “a lot of work and research.”
Like Mundy, she also expressed hopes for a restaurant opening in the future. Her optimism stems from her sense of growth as a chef during her time with Chirba.
“If you’re working for something like that for so long, you get a feeling of ownership. You want to foster its growth,” Cogdell said.
For updates on when Chirba Chriba food truck will be visiting the streets of Greenville, Adams encourages local foodies to follow their Instagram page.