"My family got several recipes from other families who owned carryout restaurants and we experimented until we came up with one that worked."
Lee says the sauce is a combination of duck sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, vinegar and sugar. She estimates a lion-share of the restaurant's customers request mumbo sauce with their meal.
"I would say at least 90 percent of the customers who order food use mumbo sauce, specifically on fried foods like chicken, French fries... and sometimes even on their rice."
Like Lee, J.Jiang helps her family many of whom speak only Chinese, by working at Hong Kong Delite, her family's carryout on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Ward 8.
Jiang came to the United States from Eastern China several years ago and agrees with Lee that Mumbo didn't originate in her native China. Still, working behind the restaurant's counter, she's learned that Mumbo sauce is popular with the locals.
"If you're out of D.C. no one knows Mumbo sauce. Here, everyone knows Mumbo sauce," Jiang said. "It's homemade here, but not from China."
Cheryl Bridges grew up in Ward 5 in Northeast Washington. She says she cannot remember a time when she didn't know about Mumbo.
"I grew up with it," Bridges said while waiting for Jiang to hand her an order of fried fish. "I like it best when it's hot and tangy not sweet."
Before Bridges can retrieve her food, a teenager walks in to the store and places an order.
"Three wings with mumbo sauce please," Alexis Washington tells Jiang who is taking orders behind the store's bullet proof glass. "I prefer mumbo sauce to any other condiment because its sweet and sour and I like it all over my chicken and rice.
In the space of a couple of minutes, high school football hopeful Michael Anderson enters.
"Jumbo Cheeseburger with Mumbo sauce please," said Anderson. When he overhears the conversation he chimes in. "Mumbo sauce is better tasting on my burger than ketchup or mustard," Anderson explained.
There are no hard numbers yet on how substantial an impact Mumbo sauce is making on the local community in the city. And though many tourists like to sample the regional cuisine of the places they visit, it's unclear whether an estimated 15 million tourists who visit Washington, D.C. annually (and patronize the city's restaurants) have gotten a taste of this coveted condiment.
What is clear is that recent attention, brisk carryout restaurant sales and now, even a couple of different bottled brands of Mumbo are raising this flavor's profile.