Update: Due to inclement weather, the Khao Noodle Shop pop-up is postponed one week, until Feb. 7. Stay tuned for future pop-ups at Krio in future months.
Khao Noodle Shop is coming back for one night on Jan. 31.
That sold-out (for now) dinner is the first in a new series of pop-up events at Bishop Arts Asian-Cajun restaurant Krio, which will showcase beloved and now-closed spots like Khao. Every month or so, Krio will turn over its kitchen to a chef who is currently without a restaurant, offering them a chance to bring back old favorites or tease a new concept.
“After the last few years, you dread that article that someone publishes about who’s closed,” Connie Cheng Powell, co-owner of Krio, says. “You don’t want to hear it. It’s not like we’re doing fabulously either. Small businesses are still hurting.”
But Krio has experience helping its colleagues out. When the coronavirus pandemic reached a stage—mid-2020—when restaurants could open in Texas but bars could not, Cheng Powell and co-owner Dan Bui threw their doors open to out-of-work bartenders. Alongside Krio’s customary (and terrific) seafood and po’ boys, the guests mixed their own drinks and got to make a little pandemic cash.
“It got me to thinking,” Cheng Powell says. “We’re not open on Tuesdays. We thought: ‘We should open up our kitchen on Tuesdays to those who aren’t able to do it anymore.’ We’ll open regular hours, 4 to 9 [p.m.], and have Krio staff serving like normal, with our regular bar. We’re telling the chefs: ‘We’ll take care of front of house and the bar, you just worry about menu and kitchen. I’ll be helping in the kitchen as well, getting my hands dirty.’”
Donny Sirisavath, former chef-owner of acclaimed East Dallas favorites Khao Noodle Shop and Darkoo’s Chicken Shack, will serve a mix of old and new dishes during his one-night Krio takeover.
“There’s going to be a lot of seafood dishes,” he says, since seafood is Krio’s specialty. “Some dishes that we made in the past, before we opened Khao. Some new dishes are going to make an appearance. It’s going to be fun.”
Since Krio’s usual kitchen staff will have the night off and Sirisavath doesn’t have a crew anymore, he and Cheng Powell will do the cooking. The dinner is currently reservations-only with a family-style set menu, so they know how much food to cook.
This is where we get to the bad news: tickets sold out within hours of yesterday’s announcement. But if weather permits, Krio’s spacious patio could accommodate additional guests. And Resy users can sign up for a waitlist in case other people cancel.
“I think it’s a great idea, for bringing friends together, up-and-coming chefs, somebody who just wants to get their name back out there,” Sirisavath adds. “Getting back to the roots.”
If you’re wondering what he has done since Darkoo’s suddenly closed, by the way, the answer lies in pop-ups like this one. He has been making plans with friends across the country, including Trigg Brown from Brooklyn’s acclaimed Win Son and Win Son Bakery. (The two chefs were both honored by Food & Wine in 2020. Sirisavath has also drawn national acclaim from Bon Appetit and the James Beard Awards.)
“Everyone thinks popups are a way to make a sustainable income,” Sirisavath explains. “It isn’t. It’s a way to get your name out and get creative. Maybe you could make money flipping burgers or hot dogs, but what we do, creating dishes, is a lot of labor of love. It takes a lot of time and effort and money.”
Although he is in talks with a Dallas bar to revive Darkoo’s Chicken Shack as part of the bar’s menu, those conversations are still ongoing, with more details to be hammered out. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, we have a night of Khao to enjoy in Bishop Arts. If you missed out on this event, and if you miss out on any patio seating that opens up, take comfort in the fact that Krio is making this a series. Heck, I have already started annoying Cheng Powell with requests for future revivals.
Darkoo’s Chicken Shack might also make a future pop-up appearance at Krio, and Krio also plans to revive its successful Asian small business block party this May as a night market, after last May’s event took place under a scorchingly hot sun. If some of your favorite restaurants have closed recently, keep an extra-close eye on Bishop Arts this spring.