A night market featuring some of DC’s top Asian and Asian-American chefs is coming to Arlington on Saturday, October 15. Chefs Kevin Tien (Hot Lola’s, Moon Rabbit) and Tim Ma (Lucky Danger) have assembled a lineup of industry friends and peers for the mini-food festival at Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row). Partial proceeds will benefit their anti-Asian racism organization, Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.
The market, held from 5 to 11 PM, will feature five chefs running individual stalls. In the lineup: Kaliwa chef Julie Cortes; Masako Morishita, the new head chef at Perry’s Japanese restaurant in Adams Morgan; Seng Luangrath of Laotian hotspots Padaek and Thip Khao; James Beard nominee Jerome Grant, who’s popping up at nearby Sparrow Room with American-Filipino concept Mahal BBQ; and Tien, who’ll dish out Hot Lola’s fiery chicken sandwiches.
The event is free and open to the public, and market-goers can purchase individual drinks and dishes like mee kathi noodle soups, bacon-wrapped pork belly, chicken adobo fried rice, Japanese-style fried chicken, Thai boba tea, and more (alcohol will not be sold, but participants can “sip and stroll” with beer and wine purchased at Westpost). In addition to the street-style vendors, entertainment will include carnival games, DJ tunes, and live mural painting from Peter Chang of No Kings Collective.
Ma says he was hesitant to plan a night market at first, given the recent backlash to similar events including the massive Redeye Night Market in downtown DC—where overcrowding solicited racist commentary—and another in Howard County, where more crowding caused the festival to backfire.
“The demand has been very high so logistics become a challenge. We were hesitant to publicize it,” Ma says. That’s part of the reason the organizers kept this event small and un-ticketed. Food festivals of all stripes have faced criticism, whether its mac n’ cheese or fancy flash mob dining—but Ma says the recent backlash against AAIP-organized events is concerning.
“I think it’s a bigger cultural thing—Asian night markets look like they can be targeted more easily than other ones,” says Ma. “I don’t know if it’s part of everything we’ve been fighting against [with Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate], but to be fair, it can be a shitshow and a lot of people to manage. We just want to have a successful one—not just for us, but for the culture.”
More information and free registration is available here.