Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Third Cleveland Asian Festival is This Weekend!

Hard to believe that a full year has passed since we played with a diverse selection of Asian food at the second Cleveland Asian Festival. The third installment will commence this Saturday, May 19 at Payne Avenue, E. 27 to E. 30th Streets, Cleveland. In addition to regular Asiatown parking, free parking (with free shuttle service to the party) will be available at the CSU Lots on E. 24th Street and other nearby locations and will be clearly marked. The Festival is open both Saturday and Sunday (May 19 and 20) from 11am to 7pm each day. There is no admission charge, but you are asked to leave your pets at home. The Festival Facebook page is here.

Many tasty delicacies will be available for purchase throughout the weekend. Just to get your mouth watering a little, below is a re-run of my report from last year's party. Hope to see you there!

On Saturday, May 21, 2011, Bob and I partook of the second Cleveland Asian Festival. Spanning a full two days in its second year, the festival offered many attractions other than the food, including a Lolly the Trolley tour of Asiatown, kids' activities, crafts, non-food vendors, and cultural performances. I came mostly for the food, centered around this outdoor food court set up in the Asia Plaza parking lot:

We arrived just before noon, and photographed most of the food vendors before partaking. The choices weren't easy to make, and we left around 5pm completely sated.

This freshly BBQ'd chicken skewer was one of last bites we actually ate, but one of the most succulent.

It was a delight having not one, but two Filipino food booths at the festival. We didn't sample any food from Ono Turo-Turo, but our friend Stuart did and he said it was fabulous.

We enjoyed our plate from the Laotion table. The spring roll was hot and crisp and the papaya salad spicy and redolent of fish sauce.

Is there anything so sublime as freshly grilled pig (with lots of skin, at our request)! The side sauce added a uniquely Filipino perspective to the simply grilled meat. These guys said they might consider opening a Cleveland-area restaurant; we hope that they do and we'll be first in line to try it!

Map of Thailand had these "demo" plates at the ready:

The following goodies were served up by Pearl of the Orient:

We were most impressed with Otani's portable sushi station, designed to keep the sushi safe despite temps in the 80s.

The following is from Koko Bakery - Cleveland's leading Asian bakery and my preferred source of bubble tea. Happily, they were offering Taro Bubble Tea, which is my favorite! No photo of it; we were too thirsty.

We took an assortment of potstickers home from Koko's stand, and enjoyed them for dinner:

Next to Li Wah's table, its sister restaurant East 30th Street Cafe offered an eclectic selection ranging from spring rolls to pizza! The restaurant serves dim sum at all hours, sushi, pizza, and other Asian and fusion items.

Li Wah's offerings

Udupi, located in Parma Heights Ohio, has been on our "to try" list for some time, but we've just never gotten there. Our loss - until today!

In addition to the steam table items, Udupi offered made-to-order Dosa, or stuffed crepes - this was one of  the highlights of our culinary tour this afternoon. First, batter is poured on the grill:

The batter is then shaped and flattened:

As the crepe crisps, a potato-and-pea based filling is deposited in the center:

The finished Dosa is served with two dipping sauces - one spicy with chili, the white one creamy with yogurt and garlic. 

We seem to have been won over by Indian flavors on this particular day - Jaipur Junction, of North Royalton Ohio, has also been on the "must try" list, and we were glad that we finally did:

Basmati Rice

Butter Chicken


Potato Cakes - Tava Tikki

Chick Pea Curry

Cold Chick Pea Salad

The smells of the foregoing tormented us - which to choose?

Chick Pea Curry over Tava Tikki, topped with two Chutneys - the made-from-scratch potato cake held up beautifully under the wet toppings and still crunched; a perfect contrast with the creamy chick peas and savory  toppings. 

Har Gow and Shao Mai Dumplings

This next item was a free sample shared by one of my favorite Asiatown haunts, Korean restaurant Ha Ahn. 

Bibimbob from Ha Ahn

I snapped this dessert item (rice flour balls stuffed with bean paste and rolled in sesame) on the table to the right of Ha Ahn, which I am told was Asia Foods (re-located last year to Asian Town Center at 3820 Superior Avenue). They looked scrumptious!

These next photos aren't of food, but of the Home Depot booth, which provided the cutest mini-aprons to the little ones, and treated them to a lesson in crafting!

And here is a look at the children's fun zone - I believe that a wristband purchased for a nominal fee provided all-you-can-play access for the minis:

These sculptures celebrating the Year of the Rabbit lined East 30th Street:

My favorite sculpture:

Chris Nguyen of Superior Pho Narrates Our Trolley Tour of Asiatown

Mame Daiko Performs Japanese Drumming

The third edition of the Festival will take place May 19 & 20, 2012, for the Year of the Dragon. As a Dragon myself (the most auspicious sign of the Asian Zodiac), I hope to be able to attend again next year. We enjoyed a day full of great food and fun, playing with too many choices from the Cleveland-area Asian food community, and immersing ourselves for a few hours in Asian culture. The Cleveland Asian Festival is highly recommended for fun playing with food and a nice splash of culture.

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