We sat down with Sharon Yeung, co-founder of Daijoubu Pop Up, to chat about touring, “Super Asian Cocktails,” and pairings for the Daijoubu 2 Box!
S&S: We’re thrilled to learn (and taste!) even more from Daijoubu this February. But first, tell us about your “day job.” Where can people find you when you’re not on tour?
SY: Currently I’m at the Walrus and the Carpenter, and also their amari-focused sister bar Barnacle. It’s been a nice change of pace working with food again; I forgot how much I loved nerding out about food. Come by and talk French wines, oysters, and amari with me!
S&S: Are there any Daijoubu tours inked for 2023?
SY: There are talks about Seattle in the spring and San Francisco in the fall. Possibly a special guest appearance in New Orleans and New York but nothing is set in stone quite yet. Stay tuned!
S&S: Hope to see you back here in New York soon! What’s your dream / bucket list location where you’d love to one day bring the “Super Asian Cocktail” experience?
SY: In the 80s my family immigrated from Hong Kong to the United States. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting but it would be the ultimate dream to throw a Daijoubu HK. It would be such a great homage to my parents and their journey.
S&S: A fabulous idea! There’s so much to Daijoubu: the party vibe, colors, music, food, and drinks, of course. How in lockstep are you and Caer when it comes to ideas and inspirations? Do you draw from the same pop-culture references? How about taste in drinks?
SY: Caer and I were immersed around the same cultural influences for the most part. We’re obsessed with all things cute or kawaii! Our love for Sailor Moon, Sanrio, and Studio Ghibli as kids has carried over as we’ve grown. There are a lot of these references in our drinks and decor; it’s freeing how playful we can be with things that resonate from our childhood and I think it rings true with the Asian American community. We have a pretty extensive range from light and refreshing, savory, and dessert-y. Growing up in California allowed us to experience cuisines from all parts of Asia where we draw our inspiration; however I do believe I lean heavily on Chinese flavors while Caer is more Japanese focused.
S&S: What makes a cocktail “Super Asian” to you, aside from the specialty ingredients? What other cultural elements should it be drawing on?
SY: A “Super Asian” cocktail must have super Asian ingredients, a super Asian garnish, and an element that ties into Asian American culture. Storytelling is important and making the connections with our Asian American identities and translating that into drink form is our speciality. For instance, our first Daijoubu cocktail called Ramon’s Revival is based on the flavors of orange chicken, an iconic Chinese American dish with a ton of historical relevance that speaks to the struggles of the first generational Chinese immigrants in the states.
S&S: Is there a “Super Asian” ingredient or cocktail that’s been in the planning stages but you haven’t yet been able to crack?
SY: Durian has been on my radar for a hot minute and I’m determined to create something with it in the future. I love introducing flavors to people outside of their comfort zone; I think it can open a lot of doors.
S&S: Truly a worthy challenge! The Daijoubu 2 Box clearly has a lot of potential for a party full of great drinks and dishes. Did you have any recipes in mind to pair with the three cocktails?
SY: These are tried and true recipes from the web I highly recommend. Getting takeout from a local Asian American business is a great alternative as well!
We’d pair the Thai One On with a classic Thai noodle dish. Sweet soy noodles and Thai tea are a match made in heaven.
We’d pair the KCF Buck with this delicious crispy chicken recipe. This recipe can work with cauliflower as well; you won’t be missing out.
These black sesame-filled mochi-like dumplings sitting in a hot boozy Daijoubu concoction is a combination unlike any other. If you’re feeling ambitious, try this solid recipe. Otherwise you can find them in the freezer aisle of your local Chinese market. The frozen ones are super quick and easy to cook: put them in boiling water and wait for them to rise to the surface.
S&S: Since the box (and your Spotify playlist!) are dropping during the Lunar New Year celebration, can you suggest how else our subscribers might put on the perfect party? What do you recommend that they might try in terms of traditions, decor, and more?
SY: Put on some Kung Fu Hustle, Crazy Rich Asians, or a feel-good anime and plug in the Daijoubu playlist in the background. In addition to our menu pairings, dumplings are a must. They symbolize money and mimic Chinese gold ingots. The more dumplings you eat, the richer you’ll be in the new year! Add some red lanterns, and if you have cool party lights at home, set them to red or pink. Burn some Green Tea incense from Morning Star and you have a vibe.
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