Since its first event nine years ago at the Kolping Center, attendance at the annual Asian Food Fest has grown exponentially—from 1,000 in 2010 to 40,000 last spring. After its first year the international food fest has had a home at OTR’s Washington Park, but this year is expected to its biggest yet, expected to draw more than 50,000 people.
To fit its expanding size, it will move downtown, May 11–12, on Freedom Way at The Banks, with free admission Saturday, noon–10 p.m., and Sunday, noon–8 p.m. The fest’s 34 vendors will represent a number of Asian and Pacific Island locales, serving up more than 130 unique dishes, including fusion and new-school items. At a sample-friendly price, all menu items range from $2 and $6.
The popular Secret Menu program (inspired by a common Asian restaurant practice where a “secret” secondary menu serves more traditional dishes) returns this year, allowing amateur chefs to develop and cook their classic dishes with logistics help from the fest. Restaurants Pho Lang Thang and Mahope have since made it big but were once aspiring restaurants that participated in the program (and both will be vendors at this year’s festival).
Entertainment will be featured at the event, including traditional Chinese, Japanese, Polynesian, and Filipino music and dances. Performances include those by singer, songwriter, and musician Melissa Polinar; Filipino-American singer, songwriter, and record producer Jeff Bernat; and urban reggae group Tribal Theory at the fest’s Unplugged session.
Asian Food Fest, The Banks, Freedom Way, May 11–12; free admission
Click through the gallery below for more photos of Asian Food Fest.