Kimchi and curry and noodz, oh my! On Feb. 9, 2019, Far East Fest will scratch all those itches and then some. Year two of the festival is set to showcase dishes from Austin’s surprisingly diverse Asian food scene. A ticket earns you unlimited samples from around 30 food and drink vendors, live music and dancing, and a few surprises.
Food + Fest = Fun
Austin’s food scene is popping, and it’s long been known as a hub for delectable Asian food. Our ramen love goes above and beyond. We compare notes on our favorite pho. We are even home to some of the best sushi chefs in the country. Local choices run the gamut from the expected—Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese—to the lesser known Cambodian and Filipino cuisines. We even mix it up with popular Asian fusion places.
Our festival scene is internationally-recognized, too. So why not combine two of the things we love most: Asian food and festivals? Far East Fest serves up food from around 30 food vendors (check website for full list, including latest additions). Plus, Far East Fest brings Asian-style dance troupes and musicians inspired by Bollywood and K-Pop (Korean pop) styles, martial arts displays, a no-hands noodle eating contest, and interactive pop-ups.
What’s Not to Love?
Alamo Drafthouse and Top Golf will be hosting pop-ups at the festival, in which participants can compete for prizes. In addition, these local dance schools and companies will provide entertainment:
- Monsoon Dance: Bollywood and Yoga
- Sho Humphries: Ukelele music
- Austin Dance India: World dance and movement
- Japan-America Society of Greater Austin
- The Love of China: School of Dance
- KDC: Korean Dance Crew
But Why, Though?
Far East Fest’s stated mission is, “We seek to celebrate all of greater Austin’s growing Asian communities through their cuisine. Our values include promoting culture and diversity through marketing local businesses to support economic growth.” The festival promotes Asian-style restaurants in Austin and also donates to related, local nonprofits.
Originally, founders Min Choe and Gavin Booth wanted to highlight the ever-expanding Asian food scene in Austin. Choe founded Tso Chinese Delivery and Jenna’s Asian Kitchen in north Austin. Booth is a food and lifestyle blogger at Couple in the Kitchen and a marketing specialist. Both Choe and Booth are passionate about food and supporting Austin-area restaurants.
The duo held the first Far East Fest in October 2017. Festival attendees and a select group of judges voted on their favorite dishes in five categories, including:
- Fan Favorite
- Critic’s Choice
- Most Innovative
- Best Food Truck
- Best Dessert
Last year’s winners included restaurants Sway and Sno Mo, which are both returning in 2019. This year, Far East Fest is on Feb. 9 at the popular H Mart Korean supermarket.
Far East Fest also has guest speakers. Mayor Steve Adler spoke at last year’s event.
From a portion of ticket proceeds, the festival supports these local nonprofits:
- Caring for Cambodia
- Asian Family Support Services of Austin
- American Gateways
- Austin Asian Community Health Initiatives
In addition to funds, the festival provides these charities with free booth space and free tickets to the event.
What Your Tickets Get You
You can buy one of four levels of tickets. The General Admission ticket includes samples of food from each vendor and costs $45. General Admission Early Entry buys you an extra hour of eating, a benefit that will spare you longer lines and give you first choice of samples. Early entry tickets are $60. Kids Admission tickets are offered at $15 for children six through 12 years old, with samples from each of the trucks.
For those wanting special access, swag, and bonus goodies, go for the $100 VIP ticket. Each VIP ticket includes access to the exclusive VIP Area, which includes extra seating. VIP ticket holders get early access to the festival (11:30 a.m. instead of 1 p.m.), free alcohol samples, swag bag, and even a free cryotherapy mini-facial from US Cryotherapy.
Drink sponsors include:
- Sapporo Beer
- Dripping Springs Vodka
- Republic Whiskey
- Ito En green tea
Hope to See You There
I am really excited to represent The Austinot at Far East Fest this year. Former Contributing Blogger Vi Chetan attended last year and had a wonderful time. Chetan told me, “The food was very good. I definitely discovered a few new Asian places to try in Austin. The lines were worth it.” She adds, “The martial arts displays and noodle-eating contest were epic!”
For a full list of participating restaurants and drink sponsors, check out the Far East Fest website. For photos of mouth-watering dishes from participating restaurants, check out the Far East Fest Facebook page. Both pages have links to buy tickets.
11301 Lakeline Blvd.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which restaurant are you most excited about trying at Far East Fest?