Grand Prairie’s Asia Times Square Just Keeps Growing

A decade ago, the abandoned Walmart and Sam’s Club buildings on Pioneer Parkway, near the border of Grand Prairie and Arlington, were in such bad shape that razing them may have seemed like a better idea than rehabbing them.

But Matthew Loh and his family saw an opportunity to turn the dilapidated structures into a hub for the surrounding Asian community. The Lohs purchased the buildings, then, shop by shop, vendor by vendor, built them into Asia Times Square, a community of restaurants, health and beauty shops, retail stores, even law offices, all under one roof.

“We want it to be a one-stop shop, so to speak,” Loh says. “No matter what you have to do — eat, buy groceries, pay bills, buy a TV — you can do it here. Especially now, with people not wanting to go to so many places, it makes sense to offer an all-in-one shopping experience.”

Food is the primary component of Asia Times Square’s appeal. Since the complex opened, it has not only become a magnet for those in neighboring communities but also foodies from across North Texas who crave Asian cuisines that are tough or impossible to find elsewhere in the area.

The Pearl at Asia Times Square is one of the few places in the area that serves dim sum, small plates of Chinese cuisine served from a rolling cart.

A pilgrimage to Asia Times Square, for example, isn’t complete without a visit to The Pearl, whose specialty item is dim sum — small plates of Chinese cuisine, from dumplings to chicken feet, wheeled around on carts.

Earlier this year, as part of a new add-on development inside the mall, nearly a half-dozen new restaurant concepts joined the shopping center’s already long list of food vendors.

Among the newbies is Omakase To-Go, a vegan and sushi spot manned by chef Thi Tran, a former sushi chef at Uchi in Dallas. Utilizing fresh veggies and fish sourced from Tsukiji Market, an internationally acclaimed seafood market in Tokyo, he offers imaginative sushi rolls, nigiri, and rotating small plates.

Former Uchi chef Thi Tran recently opened Omakase To-Go at Asia Times Square. Tran’s takes on sushi and nigiri are as imaginative as they are delicious.

Tran says he chose to open a to-go spot after finding success selling platters of sushi last year out of his home in Arlington. “It took off on social media,” he says. “It became hard for me to keep up with the demand. But it also gave me the idea for Omakase.”

Impressively, Tran’s menu includes more than a dozen veggie options. Among the choices are the Vegan Caterpillar, a sushi roll made with grilled tofu skin, cucumber, jalapeño, shiso leaf and avocado, and a vegan sushi burrito filled with edamame, shallots, grilled corn, Sichuan pickled carrots, red bell peppers, and asparagus, all wrapped in pink soy paper.

New tenants also include Apsara Thai and Cambodian, Sakari Ramen, and Meccha Matcha, all of which are owned by restaurateur Joseph Be, who grew up in the Arlington area.

The nigiri from Omakase To-Go is made from fresh fish sourced directly from Tsukiji Market, an internationally acclaimed seafood market in Tokyo.

Apsara specializes in Thai and Cambodian food, the latter of which Be holds especially dear. “My family is from Cambodia, and many of the recipes come from my family,” he says. “My mom especially.”

Be’s specialty Cambodian dishes include bai mon, sliced chicken infused with ginger and served with garlic rice and pickled papaya; twa ko, a pork sausage typically made with lemongrass; and lort cha, stir-fried rice pin noodles. Apsara’s menu also includes classic Thai dishes such as pad woon sen.

Sakari offers its namesake dish in a half-dozen varieties, plus small plates including chicken karaage over rice and panko-breaded oyster katsu. Next door is another Be endeavor, Meccha Matcha, a dessert spot that serves green tea soft serve and unique ice cream floats such as the Yuzu Matcha Float, made with ice cream and a sweet-tart yuzu drink.

Local restaurateur Joseph Be is the owner of three new food spots at Asia Times Square: Apsara Thai and Cambodian, Sakari Ramen, and Meccha Matcha. Many of his restaurants’ recipes come from family members.

Japanese pastry shop Beard Papa’s has also opened a location at Asia Times Square. The chain, which has more than 400 stores around the world, specializes in light and airy cream puffs, in flavors such as Oreo Cookie Crumble, s’mores, and honey butter.

Coming this spring will be two more spots: CM Chicken, a Korean fried-chicken stand, and Two Hands, which will specialize in the trendy Korean corn dogs.

Later this year, Loh says, Asia Times Square will be widening its footprint to include a new 11,000-square-foot building to be built from the ground up. It’s all a part of the Loh family’s three-pronged vision.

Cream puffs from Beard Papa’s come in a variety of flavors, including Oreo Crumble, matcha, and honey butter.

“Our goal is to make sure our businesses are profitable,” he says. “Our mission is to preserve traditions and promote cultures. And our vision is to connect cultures and communities. It’s so important right now, with the violence against us, to come together and support one another.”


By Malcolm Mayhew, Fort Worth Magazine, April 8th, 2021

Choong Man Chicken

Since we established the CHOONG MAN franchise headquarters in Gwanglu, South Korea in 2014 we have been through rapid growth, so proudly we opened the 160th CHOONG MAN chicken restaurant in 2 years.  We are strengthening our position in the chicken franchise market with our one-of-a-kind signature menu such as snow onion, bacon spinach and tikkudak only available in Choong Man Chicken.  We will keep stepping forward to globalize our name “Choong Man” while developing our unique menus and leading our customers to a variety of dining experiences!

Omakase To Go

What separates us apart from other sushi restaurants? We’re omakase driven so we stick to getting the best fish for each season to provide the most quality sushi. With classic flavors of traditional Japanese, fine dining, to south East Asian street food style, creating the perfect harmony of umami in modern sushi!

Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie recently celebrated their 14th annual Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is one of the most important and most celebrated holidays in some Asian cultures. Aside from it being a holiday to signify a new year on the lunar calendar, it also represents new beginnings, good fortune, and health. A typical Lunar New Year celebration is filled with traditions, not only with family but with businesses as well, that are meant to bring more prosperity and happiness all around.

Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie recently celebrated their 14th annual Lunar New Year and continued on with their tradition despite the weather and safety restrictions. They warmed up the festivities by making donations to the local community and awarding scholarships to well-deserving students. Asia Times Square also held movie screenings and fireworks– they even projected the Super Bowl on their big screen! Food vendors were also present, and it was nice seeing other local businesses present among what’s already at Asia Times Square. There was a great variety of cuisines like Cambodian, Lao, Japanese, Vietnamese, and many more. The smell of the grill coming from several vendors was absolutely hard to resist, and the selection inside Asia Times Square made for an unstoppable food journey.

 

The following week’s festivities were a lot more traditional. They started with a ritual for the lion dance inside Hong Kong Marketplace. Lion Dances are an iconic part of Lunar New Year celebrations as it symbolizes warding off any evil monsters, spirits, or negative energy. The lions are often fed offerings like round fruits, leafy greens, and red envelopes filled with money from the crowd for good luck. After a ceremony in the lobby, the lions moved inside Hong Kong Market, which would bring even more good fortune to the Grand Prairie establishment since any business visited by the lion dance performers is bound to have good luck for the rest of the year. Throughout the dance, they took the time to entertain the crowd and most especially the kids. The lion dancers would playfully take a “bite,” which is supposed to keep the kids strong, or would pass the offerings along to them. The festivities were then taken outside where the lions danced by the firecrackers to scare off any remaining evil spirits and to signify courage and strength for the rest of 2021. For safety reasons, the entire celebration was also broadcasted live on Facebook so people could enjoy the traditions safely and in the comfort of their own home.

While Lunar New Year festivities may be over, there’s always next year and we’re hoping that having continued the traditions despite the hurdles helped bring good health and prosperity for everyone this year. Asia Times Square also has a great variety of businesses and cuisines that you can visit year round, so make sure you come hungry in hopes that you get to try them all!

The Spread: Grand Prairie’s Asia Times Square Is Becoming A Legit Foodie Destination

Welcome to The Spread, our weekly feature that aims to share all the area restaurant,  food and beverage industry news that’s fit to print. Except, this is the Internet, so space isn’t a concern. Also: Good thing, because this is Dallas and this town always has breaking restaurant news going down like whoa.

What’s up, Dallas foodies?

The new year brings with it a fresh start — and hopefully some optimism for all, including everyone in the restaurant business.

To that end, there’s a lot of new stuff coming to town, including some rare gems. Take, for instance, the insanely diverse area Asian cuisine scene. Just this week out in Grand Prairie, restaurateur Joseph Be announced three concepts entering the fray at Asia Times Square — an Asian-American shopping and dining district that is quickly becoming a popular spot for foodies. So far this month, as the Dallas Morning News reports, he’s opened Apsara Thai & CambodianSakari Ramen and Meccha Matcha out that way. The first is aimed at fans of Cambodian comfort cuisine — and, trust us, there are many — whereas the latter two are aimed at Japanese ramen and dessert fiends.

If you happen to head out that way to try any of those new spots, be sure to also check out BBQ Chicken Arlington. This today through Friday, the established Korean fried chicken chain is offering a free half-and-half style chicken with each large order purchase.

If that’s still not enough Asian grub excitement for you, then how about this: Korean bakery chain Paris Baguette is opening a second location in Carrollton early 2021, per CultureMap. The international bakery and pastry company opened its first DFW location in Lewisville back in 2019.

Coffee is also all the rage these days, as CultureMap also notes how White Rino Coffee is expanding with a new location set to open in Fort Worth this Febuary. And, back in Dallas, the coffee shop also plans on opening an additional location this month in the historic State-Thomas District in Uptown, taking over the building that once housed Londoner Pub.

Unfortunately, for some, this year is off to a challenging start. Over the holidays, a structural fire caused the temporary closure of a landmark BBQ restaurant in McKinney. According to The Dallas Morning News, Hutchins BBQ is still investigating the cause of the fire that burnt a portion of its building down on New Year’s Day. But, while the McKinney location remains closed until further notice, the Frisco location is still up and running to satisfy your hearty cravings.

And, if you’re in Las Colinas or Fort Worth and craving mambo taxis, we regret to inform y’all that Taco Diner is closing its respective locations in both places. The popular Mexico City-style restaurant announced on their social media that they will not be renewing their leases at either location. Fortunately, the brand’s two other remaining spots in West Village and Lake Highlands will remain open.

It’s unclear whether these closures are related to COVID-19.

News Bites: Cambodian Cuisine inGrand Prairie and Cronutsin McKinney

Welcome back to SideDish’s weekly dispatch of need-to-know NewBites, from quiet closures to opening updates and everything in between, including coronavirus-related intel. Hello and Happy New Year.

In Case You Missed It

SideDish started off the year with a short recap of some bigger food news that flew under most radars during the holiday break. Read up on the dining news you might’ve slept on during your holiday hibernation (like the end of Macellaio, although Oak Cliff Bread is incorporating some of its salumi into its offering this weekend).

A Lot of Taco News to Kick Off the New Year

Before we get to 2021 news, here’s a quick look at the loss of Taco Stop in 2020, one of many closures last year. As pointed out by Texas Monthly taco editor José Ralat, the New York Times included the Dallas taco joint in a restaurant memoriam of sorts. Jumping forward to this year, Taco Diner closed two locations in Irving and another in Fort Worth, but its two Dallas spots remain open for now. While a reason wasn’t supplied to the Dallas Morning News, I don’t think we’re done seeing coronavirus-related restaurant closures just yet. The recent Deep Ellum arrival, Basic Taco, has temporarily closed due to COVID and some remodeling, per an Instagram post. (Its sister cocktail bar next door, Yellow Rosa, seems to be chugging along just fine.) Support your local taquerias!

Petra and the Beast Looks to Comforting Hungarian Fare

The Old East Dallas house of fine dining has a new curbside, family-style meal for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, this time serving up winter-appropriate food from Hungary, from goulash made with A Bar N Ranch beef to rustic dumplings called nodekli to rigójancsi, a chocolate spongecake with a poppy seed crumb. Cold weather comfort food at its literal finest. Peep the menu and ordering process here.

Three New Restaurants Arrive in Grand Prairie

Grand Prairie’s Asia Times Square welcomes three new places to eat and drink: Apsara Thai and Cambodian, Sakari Ramen, and Meccha Matcha. While a plethora of Asian cuisines pepper much of North Texas, Cambodian food has yet to proliferate. The arrival of Aspara hopefully points to a promising uptick of South Asian flavors in the region. Joseph Be, the owner of all three, told the Dallas Morning News that he doesn’t know of any other Cambodian eateries in the area, save for a couple in Lewisville and Rockwall. On SideDish we’ve covered Kamp Fire, Kevin Top’s Cambodian street food pop-up. It has employed a wait-and-see approach when it comes to opening a proper brick and mortar. Who can blame him post-2020? Still, I’m excited about what may become more frequently seen in the Dallas area. Here’s to more lemongrass-suffused skewers and prahok khtiss (pork dip) in 2021!

Oh, May 2021 Bring Us All the Pastries We Need and Deserve

Starting with Cremcrittos Gelato & Pastry. I saw images of lush-looking laminated pastries on the Asian Grub Facebook group not mere days ago. Now food news sleuth Teresa Gubbins at CultureMap has the word on this McKinney patisserie. It’s opened by brothers Mike and Young Yim, the latter of whom studied at The French Pastry School in Chicago and most recently was the pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton here in Dallas. The menu at Cremcrittos is promising pastry classics like the chocolate eclair and untraditional mashups such as the cronut.

The Saga of the Fletcher Corny Dog Name Is Over

A whole year ago, two Fletcher family members who splintered off to start their own corny dog business (CornDog With No Name) found themselves battling over the Fletcher name. Now, reports the Dallas Morning News, “they’re heading into the new year having called a truce” after having spent much of 2020 in legal dispute over trademarks. Despite the ongoing lawsuit, both Fletcher Corny Dog and CornDog With No Name doled out the favorite handheld snack in 2020 through roving pop-ups and getting the taste of the State Fair to the hungry masses.

Flying Saucer Said Goodbye at the End of 2020

The 25-year-old Addison beer haven closed on December 31. Owner Shannon Wynne told DMN that the lease was up and he wasn’t renewing.