This is one big happy diverse family.
A new festival debuting this Saturday in Bushwick wants to show the breadth of Asian-American cuisine.
“Asian-Americans are often misunderstood and stigmatized as monolithic groups despite the beautiful diversity of Asia,” said Phoebe Tran, 24, a co-organizer of the Happy Family Night Market, coming to the event space 99 Scott. “We hope to display this richness, and show that everyone’s experience of being Asian-American is unique.”
Saturday’s menu features exclusive dishes from nine vendors representing Himalayan, Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines — providing a glimpse of just how rich the Asian food scene is.
“It’s a special moment to celebrate and educate each other as well as our allies about our histories and the new directions we are taking our cuisines,” said Jenn de la Vega, a Filipino-American chef and food stylist behind the catering company Randwiches, who will be participating in the night market.
“I’m hoping to meet and support other Asian-American vendors,” de la Vega, 34, said. “It’s really hard to network with fellow chefs because we are in similar states of hustle.”
Chinese-American chef Diane Chang, who runs the Brooklyn-based catering business Po-Po’s, will serve modern Sichuan fare inspired by her late grandmother’s cooking.
“The thing that has inspired me most in my work as a cook is that I get to tell my grandmother’s story and connect with people in a way that even language barriers can’t prevent,” Chang, 33, said. “Straddling multiple cultures has really influenced how I cook, too. I don’t believe in authenticity, but I believe in paying tribute. I don’t believe in norms but I respect tradition.”
In addition to the food market, the festival will have an eclectic art marketplace featuring 12 traditional and contemporary Asian artists, magazines, handmade jewelry and more. Attendees will also be able to attend educational panels on topics like Chinese food history and gender roles in Asian-American cuisine, as well as watch films that explore Asian-American identity.
Organizers envision Happy Family Night Market becoming an annual way for consumers to connect with chefs’ unique and personal cuisine.
“I have experience cooking at food festivals and pop-up events, and I noticed that the meaning always went beyond just the food,” said Tran, an event producer and writer at Food+Tech Connect and former line cook at Bunker. “While people will savor all kinds of different Asian dishes on Saturday, we also want them to experience and learn about the stories behind these dishes and the heritage of these chefs.”
On the menu
Here’s a look at the vendors that will be on hand at the Happy Family Night Market, and a sneak peek at one of the dishes they’ll be serving:
- Bunker: Homestyle Vietnamese street food sourced from local farms. Dish to try: Long bean and blue oyster salad with coconut, peanuts and kaffir lime leaves
- Kreung Cambodia: Pop-up specializing in authentic Cambodian food. Dish to try: Sach ko ang and tuk kreung (bavette steak, fermented fish and lemongrass paste with purslane and micro shiso)
- While in Kathmandu: Authentic Nepali cafe, eatery and bar based in Ridgewood. Dish to try: Chicken choila (jerky-style grilled chicken marinated in raw spices, served with puffed rice and aachar)
- Randwiches: Catering project making sandwiches inspired by Filipino-American culture, Spanish tapas and fast food. Dish to try: Slow-cooked adobo pulled pork sliders with garlic and pepper with a side of vegan slaw
- The Little One: Lower East Side dessert shop serving traditional Japanese confections. Dish to try: White peach kakigori (white peach, yuzu, macerated peaches with basil and rice pearls)
- Taj Mah Balls: Homemade Indian meals in meatball form. Dish to try: Taj Mah Grandma’s balls (shikampur-style lamb meatballs in a rich gravy)
- Po-Po’s: Brooklyn caterer specializing in Sichuan-influenced fare. Dish to try: Spicy liang fen (mung bean noodles, spicy sesame sauce, homemade chili oil)
- Dawa’s: Family-owned Woodside restaurant with a focus on Himalayan cuisine. Dish to try: Tsel-baley (vegetable hand pie with garlic chives, yu-choy and potato)
- Dotory: Korean eatery serving up pajun, bibimbap and kimchi jigae in South Williamsburg. Dish to try: Chive corn dog with kimchi herb sausage
IF YOU GO
Happy Family Night Market is Saturday from 3 p.m.-midnight at 99 Scott | 99 Scott Ave., Bushwick | tickets $22 at happyfamilymkt.com