Haidilao's Frisco outpost is almost sure to stay busy for a bit. You probably want to make a reservation for its spicy soups, hand-pulled noodles, and other hot pot accoutrements. Courtesy Haidilao

News Bites

News Bites: Haidilao Hot Pot Is Indeed Open in Frisco and Anju Opens in Uptown

SideDish’s weekly digest of need-to-know dining happenings in Dallas.

Welcome to SideDish’s weekly dispatch of need-to-know News Bites, from quiet closures to opening updates and everything in between, including coronavirus-related intel.

Huzzah! Haidilao Finally Arrives

Hot pot lovers have waited with bated breath since last summer for the restaurant to open. Haidilao, which is originally from Jianyang, China and has grown to have locations all over the globe, is officially open in Frisco, reports Eater Dallas. Now diners can delight in burbling pots of beef tallow and Sichuan pepper broth in which you can dunk house-made, hand-pulled noodles (stretched for you tableside), plus much more.

Anju Opens in Uptown This Friday

Anju, billed as an “elevated Asian street food concept” will open on April 23 in Uptown at 2901 Thomas Avenue. One Esca, the restaurant group behind Anju, took over the former City Council Bar in Uptown back in December 2019. After a long renovation, Anu, which reportedly translates to “food consumed with alcohol” in Korean, will soon serve up a variety of Asian dishes: kaarage, drunken noodle, beef dumplings, and pork belly bao. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant sports an equally spacious patio and will heavily feature drinks.

What Is Going on With the Boba Shortage? 

Or, rather, is there a boba shortage at all? Let’s catch you up in case you’ve missed it. There have been reports that’s it been tough to get boba—the tapioca balls nearly quintessential to bubble tea—from suppliers. Apparently, this is due to delayed shipping containers from Asia that are carrying tapioca, both the prepared pearls and the starch from which they’re made. Containers are piling up on the West Coast. But what has been widely reported as a “crisis” affecting the whole bubble tea industry might actually be specific to some shops, says Eater. It largely depends on where you’re sourcing your boba pearl from.

Meanwhile in Dallas, bubble tea shops say they are indeed feeling a pinch, report Dallas CultureMap and the Dallas Morning News. Some are beginning to rely on different suppliers and finding mixed results. (Customers have complained about the switch, leaving bad reviews during a time when businesses continue to struggle.) As some panic has set in, much like toilet paper hoarding of the early pandemic, some shops may be stockpiling more boba than usual leaving less for smaller, independent shops. We’ll have to wait and see if the logistics of a globalized economy hopefully catch up to demand (and there’s high demand for the popular Taiwanese drink here in Texas).

Texas Restaurants Still Feel the Economic Effects of COVID

The Texas Restaurant Association recently released findings from a survey of 3,000 restaurant operators. In it, 59 percent said their March 2021 sales were lower than a normal year, and 81 percent said their profit margin is lower than it was prior to COVID-19. Despite being able to reopen to full capacity, which of course varies among restaurants, many also report they believe it will take several months to a year—or longer—to return to normal.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Is Preparing to Accept Grant Applications

The Small Business Association is readying to receive applications for a $28.6 billion grant program. It doesn’t have a launch date yet, but eligible restaurants and bars should be prepping documents now. When the application does open, funds will fly. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a part of the massive March stimulus package (The American Rescue Plan) that Congress passed in early March. It’s a grant program for restaurants and bars so that owners can meet payroll and cover other expenses. Unlike the Paycheck Protection Program, it’s not a loan that will need to be paid back. Individual businesses will be eligible for up to $5 million each. Eater has an easy-to-follow breakdown of who’s eligible and what is included in the program.

USDA Extends Universal Free Lunch in Schools and Day Care

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that it will be extending universal free lunch for the 2021-2022 school year. The move is in response to the estimated 12 million children who may not always have access to nutritious food at home during the pandemic. According to the nonprofit Feeding America, the rate of child food insecurity is 21.6 percent and 21.1 percent in Dallas County. Anti-hunger advocates applaud the USDA’s decision and many are hoping this strengthens the case to make universal free meals in schools a permanent program even after the pandemic ends.

A Downtown Dallas Sushi Spot Goes Viral on TikTok

After the Sushiya owner’s grandson posted a video on TikTok, the downtown restaurant has seen an uptick of local support. The 14-year-old restaurant was a go-to for lunch crowds, which largely disappeared as offices shuttered during the pandemic. After the TikTok went viral, a whole new clientele showed up—groups of younger folks, mostly. The DMN said that “Sushiya went from a year straight of 50 percent revenue back up to 95 percent.” Just read the story, it’s a good one.

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