Dozens of top Asian chefs and restaurants scattered around the DMV will congregate along the same D.C. strip on Saturday, November 6, to showcase their finest Filipino pastries, Taiwanese shaved ice, bao, dan dan noodles, Korean fried chicken, and other best sellers well into the night.
D.C.’s first annual Redeye Night Market ropes off a four-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue NW (3rd through 7th Streets) from 4 p.m. to midnight, with for-sale dishes and drinks from 50 vendors to go along with music, dance, and other moon-lit cultural performances.
The free-to-enter street festival is the brainchild of Peter Chang, the co-founder of D.C. creative agency No Kings Collective. He says he’s long wanted to bring D.C. its own version of a bustling, open-air night market — a popular community fixture in places like Taiwan, Tokyo, and Singapore.
Chang team ups with Events DC to pull off D.C.’s first-of-its kind dining affair next to the Capitol, which expects to draw upwards of 30,000 visitors based on RSVP figures this week. Organizers waived vendor fees so that restaurants can make the most of the night.
“With everything that’s happened with restaurants and the AAPI community throughout COVID, we thought it was time to strike and make a statement to show unity with the community,” he says.
Many participating vendors were part of this year’s Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate, a successful takeout meal series designed to combat racism across the country. Its co-organizer Kevin Tien plans to serve hits from Moon Rabbit, his Vietnamese fine dining destination on the Wharf. Stalls are also manned by Blagden Alley’s Hong Kong-inspired Tiger Fork, Erik Bruner-Yang’s hip Taiwanese/Cambodian cafe Maketto, Jose Andres’s Japanese-Peruvian ceviche bar China Chilcano, and Bib Gourmand-designated Laotian eatery Thip Khao.
Attendees can save a trip to the suburbs and sample creative Korean street foods from Incheon, Annandale’s acclaimed tasting menus spot that made Tom Sietsema’s Fall Dining Guide. Its Korean-born chef Justin Anh plans to jazz up nostalgic cups of ramen swimming in dashi broth with pork belly, egg, and scallions.
“Instant ramen is ubiquitous to our diet and snacking culture, whether you’re young, middle age or elderly. It’s something all Koreans know,” he says. With temperatures expected to fall in the 40s on Saturday night, the soup is sure to be a quick seller (he says he’s preparing around 250 to 300 portions).
He also plans to send out Incheon’s popular pork belly wraps, a taco-like snack served with spicy radish, pickled napa cabbage, and walnut ssamjang, and Korean rice cakes cooked in a spicy green curry.
Baltimore’s NiHao will also bring its contemporary Chinese dishes down to D.C. with options like tofu and mushroom salad and hot and sour duck soup (menu below).
“We’re hopeful attendees who aren’t of Asian descent see it as an adventure into different cultures and find a common ground. At the end of the day we are all people,” says Chang, adding “we’re all about making sure there’s a connection between food and art.”
A trio of female artists will create a large, dragon-themed mural throughout the night, he says.