The businessman who opened the first espresso bar in China is now planning to bring to Factoria an Asian dessert so special that he refuses to talk about it on the record.
But Scott Heimberger is more forthcoming about the other menu items planned for Happy Melon Bakery and Deli, an offshoot of his three-year old Jing Jing Asian Market. The 2600 square-foot food court was designed partly to give non-Asians ideas about how to use the goods sold at Jing Jing. Heimberger estimates non-Asians account for about one-quarter of his customer base.
“What we’ve tried to do is take a Chinatown grocery and clean it up without losing the curiosity factor,” Heimberger says of Jing Jing’s niche. “We keep that feeling where ‘you walk around the corner, what are you going to see?’ without the bad smells and bad service.”
Heimberger hopes Happy Melon – which merited its own name because Heimberger and his wife, Jing Jing He, are planning to open more locations in the Seattle area – will be similarly accessible.
“We want to upscale it just a little, but not in price,” he says. “What we’re really going for is a very special Chinese to-go menu; We really want to focus on high-quality Chiense takeout, give a bit of a Whole Foods feel to it.”
Items planned for the deli include barbecue pork and duck, white cut chicken and fan tuan, or sticky rice rolls, stuffed with dried pork, pickled vegetables or sweet red bean paste.
“On the non-Asian side, we could do chicken or curry,” Heimberger adds. “We’ve even considered creamy fruit. It’s kind of like Taco del Mar, where you choose what you want and they make it in front of you.”
The menu will also feature flatbreads infused with green onions and bacon, breakfast soups and spicy dishes made with lots of vegetables.
“I’ve been on a kick to get non-Asians to eat more vegetables,” Heimberger says. “But we’ve also got a couple of secret meat dishes that are really going to knock socks off.”
The secrets surrounding the meat dishes and dessert should be resolved next month, when Happy Melon opens. Heimberger characterized the June opening as a “soft opening,” saying he plans to wait 6-8 weeks to alert the 6000 customers on Jing Jing’s e-mail list.
“We want to get the formula the way we like it,” he says.
Happy Melon is located alongside Jing Jing at 12402 SE 38th Street, just across the parking lot from popular dim sum restaurant Top Gun. Hours of operation haven’t yet been determined.