A Chinese restaurant in Queens claims a Philadelphia couple ripped off their spicy sauce recipe — and used the secret concoction to help launch their own eatery.
Jialiang Huang and his wife Meiling Liang approached the Flushing restaurant LaoMa Malatang last year, saying they wanted to open an outpost in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Queens joint specializes in Malatang — a style of street food popular in Beijing — and has become “one of the most popular restaurants serving Malatang and dry pot food in the United States,” LaoMa claims in court papers.
Huang traveled to Flushing several times to learn the ropes, coughed up a $10,000 franchise fee and even investigated renting spaces for his franchise, according to the Brooklyn Federal Court lawsuit.
The two sides reached a verbal agreement, so company execs gave the couple a tour of their popular stall in the New World Mall food court, including access to the kitchen, ingredients and LaoMa’s “unique … preparations systems.”
During a second visit, Huang took pictures of the kitchen and was taught how to make the company’s Laoma sauce, the company said in its legal filing accusing the couple of trademark infringement.
But a month later, he allegedly walked away from the deal — only to then open Chu Shang Spicy in Philadelphia, which “used the same technique, system and LaoMa sauce” as LaoMa Malatang.
LaoMa is seeking unspecified damages.
Huang and Liang could not be reached.
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