Every year, the Asian Food Fest brings the cuisine and culture of East and South Asia to downtown Cincinnati. The nations (and food) represented include Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
MORE: New Butler County restaurant sells out during first weekend in business
While there are a few returning favorites, such as Mumbai Streetside, whose Chicken Frankies and Vada Pavs made a big splash last year, the Asian Food Fest prides itself on offering new and diverse dishes each year.
In addition to a full lineup of Asian dance, culture and live music, the following are the five dishes we chose to highlight:
1. BRIDGES NEPALI CUISINE – RICE BOWL
If you’re a fan of Indian food, you might to try this rice bowl from one of India’s next-door neighbors. The rice is topped with your choice of Hakku Chuala (marinated chicken) or Chicken Tikka Masala (both toppings are pictured), and Aloo Wala (marinated potatoes). Hot or mild lentils and chutneys are served on the side. It’s a bit milder than Indian cuisine, but ideal for fans of Indian food who want to sample something similar but new.
2. LANG THANG GROUP – SPICY SICHUAN FIVE-WAY
The Spicy Sichuan Five-Way is one of several fusion dishes at the fest, reflecting the wide experience and tastes of the chefs. The Five-Way consists of Dandan noodles, chili and marinated pork, piled high with various seasonings and toppings. The chili can be served beneath the noodles or not all, depending on your preferred spice level.
MORE: 10 great ethnic restaurants to try in West Chester
3. PUFFS N’ BUNS – GREEN TEA MACARON CAKE
Puffs N’ Buns takes a trendy beverage and refashions it into a street food item. Imagine green tea in the form of a sandwich cookie-like confection, and you’ll have a good sense of the Green Tea Macaron Cake.
4. S.E.A. CUISINE FOOD TRUCK – SOUTHEAST ASIAN TACOS
Often mistaken as a seafood vendor, S.E.A. is actually an acronym that stands for “Southeast Asia.” While the S.E.A. Cuisine Food Truck makes a number of Southeastern Asian dishes, they’ll be offering their best-selling items — tacos with a Southeast Asian twist — at the Fest. Choose between Korean BBQ steak, teriyaki chicken or Cambodian shrimp, wrapped in tortillas with mango pico de gallo, yum yum sauce, sriracha and cilantro.
MORE: Spooky Nook brings its first event to Hamilton this weekend
5. ADELINDA’S LUMPIA – FILIPINO AND CINCINNATI-STYLE LUMPIAS
Since 2016, the Asian Food Fest has offered a special “secret menu” option, which serves more authentic Asian dishes, sometimes from talented amateur chefs. A lumpia is a Filipino spring roll frequently packed with vegetables and/or minced meat. Adelinda’s Lumpia will offer both a Manila-style lumpia, filled with beef, carrots, cabbage and served with sweet chili sauce, and a Cincinnati-style lumpia, inspired by Cincinnati hot dogs, chili and a mustard aioli side sauce.
— — —
HOW TO GO
WHERE: Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati
WHEN: Noon to 10 p.m. May 12; noon to 8 p.m. May 13
COST: No admission cost. Food and drinks available for purchase.