A Guide to Netflix’s Midnight Asian Foods in DFW
So you binge on the set Midnight Asia series on Netflix. Now you’re hungry and curious to try all the dishes featured in each episode, but you can’t catch the long-haul flights to six different countries. Who has money and time anyway? You are not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. But we are #Blessed to be living in North Texas in 2022 and we ordinary people can make this trip in our cars and enjoy the treats. Even in broad daylight.
Lugaw or Arroz Caldo from Manila, Philippines
You may need a personal invitation to a Filipino home to get a bowl of lugaw (rice porridge) or arroz caldo (chicken rice porridge). Fortunately, we have the likes of second-generation Filipino American Anna Swann from Ulam Dallas: Modern Filipino Kitchen, who puts her own spin on traditional Filipino cuisine. She recently popped up at Sandwich Hag’s featuring this comfort food. Follow her on social media to find her next pop-up for that perfect balm for cold, rainy days.
You can also visit your nearest Filipino restaurant, such as Kabayan Filipino Store and Cafe in Lewisville, or drive to ORC Filipino/Asian BBQ in Princeton. It may not be on the regular menu, but take a chance and ask if it’s on the steam table or a special.
Pav Bhaji from Mumbai, India
You better love butter to really enjoy a pav bhaji. This bowl of spicy mashed vegetables and tomato sauce is topped with a knob of butter and served with a side of chopped raw red onions, a lemon wedge and two sliced buns in the middle. Squeeze the lemon into the sauce, stir in the butter and melted onions, butterfly the buns open to expose the crispy, golden interior on a buttered griddle. Even after tearing off a piece of bread and dipping it in the sauce, it still remains crispy. Strained kapi duvet, a strong latte served in a stainless steel cup nestled in a bowl, which serve to both pour and then stretch the liquid to create its signature froth.
Head to Sankalp: Taste of India along Highway 121 in Plano or Kwality Kabab and Grill near the George Bush Turnpike in Carrolton to fulfill your pav bhaji dreams.
Seoul Fried Chicken, South Korea
The other KFC, Korean Fried Chicken, is no stranger to DFW. In the bustling K-Towns of Dallas and Carrolton, you’re sure to find at least one of the many restaurants.
Bb.q Chicken (1827 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington) serves its fried chicken in variations: whole cut chickens, wings, even boneless strips or just fried or dressed in a sticky dressing that never makes the breading soggy. Bring friends to share over local beers or a bottle of Soju, a Korean liquor. Then choose two to three of the many flavors that range from Original Golden Olive and Sweet and Salty Soy Garlic to Mild Spicy Gang Jeong and Four Chili Wings of Fire.
Oyster cake from Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei Station Cafe (930 W. Parker Road) is one of Plano’s Taiwanese culinary mainstays. Crispy around the edges, slathered in a sweet-salty sauce and topped with plump oysters, the oyster omelette is chewy enough to slice with chopsticks (see photo above). Taipei station is still takeout only for now, but call ahead, get cash and pick up.
If you desire a wider selection of street food like in the Ningxia Night Market, Hoja Bubble Tea and Asian Street Food on Spring Creek and Alma are the place to be.
Tokyo Izakaya, Japan
Going through the gates of Mr. Max Izakaya (3028 N. Belt Line Road) is like entering Narnia, except it takes you to a corner of Tokyo. An authentic Japanese dining institution certified by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Mr. Max has been serving the traditional good stuff for years. While there’s a set menu of Japanese staples and bar snacks, order the trio of starters, which are the chef’s choice, with a chilled glass of Asahi draft beer. Try the niku dofū, or thin slices of braised beef and tofu, served in an iron pot to keep warm on colder days.
Mr. Max is often crowded on weekends, so book the night before to ensure a seat at the bar.
Moo Pla Ra from Bangkok, Thailand
While DFW offers a generous selection of Thai restaurants, the moo pla ra on Midnight Asia is available at only one restaurant: Too Thai Street Eats (2540 Old Denton Road, Carrollton). The moo pla ra, grilled pork with fermented fish sauce, does not come on a stick like in the series. Instead, pieces of grilled pork and the bowl of pla ra – mashed with chili peppers, tomatoes and eggplant – are served on a platter surrounded by fresh vegetables: cabbage, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce and eggplant and rice sticky.
This dish is designed to be eaten with your hands, so take some pork with rice and vegetables and dip it in pla ra, then shove it in your mouth to get the crunch and squish, funk and the heat. Complete the whole BKK experience with a chilled bottle of Singha beer, the country’s most popular lager.