The Facebook group Asian Grub in DFDUB was one of the best things to come out of the pandemic: a community of positivity, support, and drool-inducing food photos, dedicated to promoting Asian-owned restaurants across North Texas.
Now Asian Grub is coming to the real world, with a big block party bash in the Bishop Arts District on May 14.
In collaboration with the Asian-Cajun seafood spot Krio, Asian Grub is throwing an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Block Party. Vendors will offer food, drinks, and activities on Krio’s patio, along the sidewalk, and up and down 7th Street. Admission will be free. There will be newcomers, lesser-known businesses, and big names, like cult favorite pop-up Sandoitchi and Fat Straws Bubble Tea. In other words, it’s going to be one heck of a party.
“I felt like this was just another way we could help out local businesses,” says Vu Ly, one of Asian Grub’s administrators. “We have some businesses who aren’t big on social media, so this helps them get out there too.”
For two years, Asian Grub waited until it would be safe to convene such a large public festival. When Ly decided the time was right, he talked with his friend Connie Cheng, co-owner of Krio, and she offered her restaurant’s space.
She told me that the planning process was, at first, as casual as it gets. “It was just friends hanging out talking. It was me handing him a shot of tequila, saying, ‘Let’s do it together.’”
From tequila shots come great things. Krio will have a satellite bar outdoors to serve drinks to the adults. Dallas authorities agreed to block off the street. Lion dancers and DJs are booked. Over a thousand Asian Grub members RSVPed within the first hour.
Looking at the culinary lineup, I’m hungry even three weeks out. Fat Ni BBQ, a Chinese barbecue restaurant in Plano and Carrollton, will be bringing its grilled skewers of meat. An Choi, the brand-new food truck from the owners of Pho 544 in Murphy, will make one of its first appearances. Sandoitchi will offer a glimpse of its mysterious new pop-up, Hot Honey, which revolves around “neo-Neapolitan” pizza.
Brand-new Okaeri Cafe in Richardson is coming, as are two Filipino food outfits, iGrill Lechon and Mamang Lumpia. Asiannights, the Lao restaurant in Haltom City where you can get both great pho and bottle service, is sending its food truck, WTF: What To Fry!.
“Did you try the fried pork belly?” Ly asked me when I said I’d been to Asiannights. I said no, I’d gotten fried riblets instead. He told me to be sure to order What To Fry!’s fried pork belly: “That’s what they’re known for. Once you taste the pork sauce with the pork belly, man, it’s outta this world.”
The thing I notice most, talking to Asian Grub members like Ly and Asian restaurant owners like Cheng, is the sense of community. Everyone on Asian Grub is genuinely excited for everyone else’s success. Cheng, hosting the festival, is excited to try everyone else’s food.
A little bit of community goodwill can create even more, like a snowball effect of warm fuzzy feelings. Krio created a welcoming casual space in Bishop Arts for all kinds of people to enjoy po boys, bánh mì, oysters, and crawfish boils. Asian Grub responded. Now we all get to celebrate at a great big party.
“They helped us so much,” Cheng says of the Facebook group. “We were new and battling what everyone else was during covid, but with the love that Asian Grub gave us, people were driving in from other cities just to try us out. Because of this group. They did an amazing thing.”
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Block Party, on 7th Street in the Bishop Arts District, Saturday, May 14, 12-6 p.m.