Consider the following resumé bullet points:
- Studied engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai
- Designed bridges and led development projects in Kenya
- Received a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Washington University.
What should someone with these credentials do?
Open a Chinese restaurant in University City, naturally!
The above is just a snapshot of the life of Jerry Li, who co-owns and operates Lu Lu Seafood & Dim Sum with his wife, Jenny, and their daughter, Julia. Jerry opened Lu Lu Seafood sixteen years ago, and it has been one of the most popular Chinese destinations in U City ever since.
In an era where Chinese cuisine is associated with both small, authentic ethnic restaurants as well as large “Americanized” chains, Lu Lu Seafood stands out. Whereas most Chinese restaurants, authentic or Americanized, purchase their seafood frozen, Lu Lu Seafood purchases its seafood live from Seafood City to ensure quality and freshness.
In addition to seafood, Lu Lu Seafood offers a diverse range of traditional meals from several different Chinese regions. The appeal of traditional Chinese cuisine goes beyond mere authenticity. According to Julia, traditional Chinese food is very healthy, with a proper balance of greens, meats, and grains. If you’re health-conscious or watching your caloric intake, Lu Lu Seafood has plenty of dishes that you can enjoy guilt-free.
Adding to the authenticity and diversity of its menu, Lu Lu Seafood employs four regional chefs: one from Shanghai, one from Hong Kong, one from Beijing, and one from Sichuan. Each chef specializes in the cuisine of the region where he or she is from. Lu Lu Seafood also employs two dim sum specialists who handcraft all of their dim sum offerings.
There is no denying Lu Lu Seafood’s popularity. With annual revenues averaging $1.2 million and 80,000 meals served each year, the restaurant has proven that its selections will keep anyone who tries them coming back for more. But the restaurant itself isn’t the only place that you can purchase its offerings. A spin-off chain, Lu Lu Chinese Express, operates at two Dierbergs locations, and refrigerated Lu Lu’s meals can be found at fourteen Dierbergs locations. Julia is currently overseeing the rollout of Lu Lu Fresh Express, which will offer meals under 400 calories, many of which will be dairy-free and gluten-free.
Although there is an emphasis on the traditional at Lu Lu Seafood, Jerry, Jenny, and Julia also know how to innovate, as indicated by their collaboration with Maplewood-based Strange Donuts. As this collaboration moves forward, expect to see bizarre yet mouthwatering selections that include dumplings inside of doughnuts and duck taco served on a doughnut bun.
Lu Lu Seafood & Dim Sum was among the first Chinese restaurants to open on a stretch of Olive Boulevard that is something of an emerging China Town. Its longevity of sixteen years is a testament to the fact that Jerry, Jenny, and Julia are masters at doing business. That Lu Lu Seafood has remained dynamic after all of this time, as shown by its collaborations with Dierbergs and Strange Donuts, is a clue that its story is only beginning.
8224 Olive Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
Phone: (314) 997-3108