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Asian-Centric Food and Cocktail Market Pops Up in East Austin

Find cocktails, naan croissants, five-spice-glazed chicken wings, and onigiri when the month-long DaijoubuMart opens

The pork cutlet bento box from Asahi Imports
The pork cutlet bento box from Asahi Imports
Asahi Imports [Official]

A bunch of Austin Asian food and drink pop-ups are teaming up to open a month-long market full of food, drinks, and snacks, or as it describes, “super Asian provisions.” DaijoubuMart will involve:

The market will be found within East Austin bar Last Straw at 1914 East Sixth Street from Thursday, August 20 through Sunday, September 20. People will be able to start placing preorders on Monday, August 17, but in-person and day-of orders will be available as well.

The goal of DaijoubuMart is to allow these businesses to have a common location to sell their foods while also supporting the Asian-American community during the pandemic. The group takes pride in the fact that the businesses involved are Asian-owned and that many are owned or partially owned and managed by women.

“The pandemic has been hard on everyone,” noted the DaijoubuMart release, “but it’s undeniable that the smaller hospitality-based businesses are having a particularly hard time. It brings us a lot of joy to support one another as a collective and help our small businesses survive during this time, together.”

Daijoubu

Daijoubu’s initial cocktail lineup includes the Tapioca Express, a creamy rum-based drink with boba pearls infused with an Italian liquor; the frozen MongoBoshi, a white rum concoction with mango and “Super Asian” chamoy; the bottled Phuket on Acid with Jagermeister (yes), coconut oil fat-washed green chili vodka, and a syrup made from pineapple fried rice; and the Ramon’s Onsen, with two shots of shishito-infused tequila with a side cup of tom kha soup.

The Tapioca Express cocktail from Daijoubu
The Tapioca Express cocktail from Daijoubu
Daijoub [Official]

Daijoubu co-creators Sharon Yeung and Caer Maiko launched the boozy pop-up in March 2019, as a way to create and showcase Asian flavors in expertly made drinks (the name is the Japanese word for “fine”). They both had worked at the Roosevelt Room, and now Maiko was part of the Last Straw team (currently she is on furlough). Rounding out the team is Maiko’s husband, Sam McCracken, who is now at Drink.Well. (All three are coordinating the market, hence the name.)

During the pandemic, they teamed up with restaurants and bars to offer one-off cocktail specials to raise money for Asian-American nonprofits, like the one at the Peached Tortilla in April benefitting Asian-Americans Advancing Justice’s Stand Against Hate campaign.

Onigiri Corner

Onigiri Corner’s DaijoubyMart menu will focus on bento boxes at first, with proteins such as panko-breaded and fried shrimp, pork cutlets, and vegetable croquettes, with an array of rice, vegetables, and tamagoyaki.

Asahi, which is family-run and owned by Sally Matsumae, opened along 6105 Burnet Road in the Brentwood neighborhood in 1967. The market expanded with its onigiri section in 2013, where Matsumae would make a small batch of the rice balls and sold them by the register. To mix things up, she added bento boxes as well. When the store was able to expand into the next-door space in 2015, she started the dedicated Onigiri Corner.

Matsumae had been wanting to work with Daijoubu for some time, and this market presented the perfect opportunity. “It’s a neat way to get exposure in a different part of town,” she says, “and perhaps a different audience.”

Currently, Onigiri Corner team is led by Masumi Jones and four other chefs.

The naan croissants from 33 Tigers
The naan croissants from 33 Tigers
33 Tigers [Official]

33 Tigers

For DaijoubuMart, 33 Tigers will sell its naan croissants alongside its pizza wave honey butter, a fermented tomato-based sauce with honey, chili oil, garlic, basil, and Dandy Rosé, plus pickled peppers and spices.

Chef Deepa Shridhar strives to showcase Indian and Texan flavors while delving into other influences. 33 Tigers originated as super club series Anjore in 2014 and farmers market stand Chaiwalla in 2016, which was then converted into food truck Puli-Ra in 2017 before becoming 33 Tigers. Because of the pandemic, Shridhar, along with chef Sakif Khan, pivoted to a delivery service model with pastries and dirty chai.

Gan Bei Gals

As part of DaijoubuMart, Gan Bei Gals will serve up chicken wings with a cinnamon five-spice glaze and mala skillet potatoes. The name is a Mandarin phrase that means “cheers” or “dry your cup.”

Co-founders Gabby Phi, Michelle Kao, and Jackie Fu started the group in late 2019 as a way to share and explore their Asian-American cultures with people through food, stories, and art. They hosted their first event, a Lunar New Year hot pot dinner, in January 2020, and have been sharing recipes and stories on their Instagram account during the pandemic.

In May, the trio offered their first food delivery service (those chicken wings and Vietnamese fish sauce wings), benefitting Minneapolis coalition Reclaim the Block.

Scope out all of the full initial menus below.

The Mala skillet potatoes from Gan Bei Gals
The Mala skillet potatoes from Gan Bei Gals
Gan Bei Gals [Official]

DaijoubuMart

DaijoubyMart is only selling to-go food and drinks (read: there is nowhere to dine at the bar), with a weekly menu. There are also plans to offer a market section, with snacks (Pocky), soft drinks, toiletries, and more.

The menus will be posted on Mondays on its social media accounts for pickups on Thursdays through Saturdays, but people will still be able to place day-of and in-person orders. Orders can be placed online or in person at the counter (what was Last Straw’s garage door). The market will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

In order to minimize contact, the groups will use the large space at different times, i.e. 33 Tigers in the mornings and Gan Bei Gals in the afternoons. “If everything goes as planned,” Maiko explains to Eater, “no two groups will be in the same space at the same time for more than a couple minutes.” That way, if someone does test positive for COVID-19, “it is unlikely that the other groups will be infected,” noted Maiko, but everyone will be tested before the market could resume service.

This also means that food items aren’t being made-to-order, so things run the risk of running out. Maiko and Yeung are going to run the counter, from packing up to handing over orders, and there’s a contactless pickup option as well.

As for DaijoubuMart’s host Last Straw, the bar has been temporarily closed amid the pandemic, or as owner Ben Edgerton said, “We are taking Last Straw one day at a time.” The restaurant has been participating in Austin Independent School District’s initiative of feeding student caregivers during the summer.

DaijoubuMart’s Menu

Daijoubu Drinks

Tapioca Express (single-serving, ready to drink): Santa Teresa 1796 rum, Earl Grey milk tea, brown sugar, Italicus-infused boba pearls, $11 (non-alcoholic version is $5)

Dope Ass Midori Sour (single-serving, ready to drink, frozen): Midori, Hendrick’s gin, Lustau manzanilla sherry, baijiu, honeydew melon, cucumber, lime, sugar, yuzu, $12

MongoBoshi (single-serving, ready to drink, frozen): Bounty white rum, Batavia Arrack, citrus, mango, Super Asian chamoy, dried togarashi dusted mango, $9

Lai-Cee (single-serving, ready to drink): Tanqueray 10 gin, Jianzhaung baijiu, Liber and Co. passionfruit syrup, green tea, lychee, aloe jelly, $11 (non-alcoholic version is $5)

Phuket On Acid (single-serving, bottled): Jagermeister, coconut oil fat-washed St. George green chili vodka, pineapple fried rice syrup, pineapple and lime juice, curried dehydrated pineapple and banana leaf, $11

Bang! KokTail (double-serving, bottled, with fat ice): Coconut fat washed-Aberfeldy 12 year, Bacardi Cuetro anejo, Thai tea syrup, orange bitters, absinthe-toasted coconut flakes, $26

Hai-Ball (double serving, bottled): White peach-infused Absolut Elyx vodka, Iichiko Shochu, Choyo Japanese plum wine, Daijoubu Sakura cordial, Mini Topo Chico bottle, $20

Ramon’s Onsen (double serving): Two servings of roasted shishito-infused Espolon Blanco served with a cup of Mama Yeung’s tom kha soup, cilantro, and Thai basil, $15

Asahi Onigiri Corner:

Ebi Fry Bento: Three panko-breaded fried jumbo shrimp, rice, kinpira gobo burdock/carrot, tamagoyaki, shibazuke pickles, $10

Tonkatsu Bento: Pork cutlet breaded and fried, rice, kinpira gobo burdock/carrot, tamagoyaki, shibazuke pickles, $10

Korokke Bento: Two vegetable croquettes (potatoes, carrots, corn, peas), rice, kinpira gobo burdock/carrot, seaweed salad, tamagoyaki, shibazuke pickles (vegetarian), $10

33 Tigers:

Naan Croissant: Naan dough that is laminated in ghee and butter, with a side of Pizza Wave honey butter, $7

Gan Bei Gals:

Chinese Five Spice Wings (five pieces): Cinnamon, fennel, star anise, clove, Sichuan peppercorn, rock sugar, soy sauce, green onions $9

Mala Skillet Potatoes: Pan-fried russet potatoes tossed in Sichuan chili bean paste, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rock sugar, star anise and Sichuan red peppercorn, $8

Pickled Carrots and Daikon, $4

Mock-up of DaijoubuMart at Last Straw
Mock-up of DaijoubuMart at Last Straw
DaijoubuMart [Official]

Asahi Imports

6105 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78757 (512) 453-1850 Visit Website

Last Straw

1914 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 354-1480

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