Listen: Food Critic Brian Reinhart Talks Hot Joy and Cultural Respect on KERA

Hot Joy made it three months in Uptown Dallas.
Hot Joy made it three months in Uptown Dallas.
Kathy Tran
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Two weeks ago, we published a review of pan-Asian restaurant Hot Joy, which had signed a two-year lease in an old Texas Land & Cattle building in Uptown. In the review, Observer food critic Brian Reinhart questioned the San Antonio-based restaurant's decor and menu choices. He interviewed people like Andrew Ti, creator of the website and podcast Yo, Is This Racist?, who asserted that Hot Joy's Asian imagery was "used out of context and truly objectified in the service of reinforcing the idea that Asian-ness is foreign and ‘other.’”

Two days after the Observer's review ran, The Dallas Morning News gave the restaurant two stars. And two days after that, the restaurant closed for good.

"It just didn't work," Jack Gibbons, president of Front Burner Restaurants, told GuideLive.

Despite Hot Joy's demise (in Dallas, anyway; the San Antonio location is still open), its short three-month run inspired a dialogue about cultural respect and food. That conversation extended to KERA-FM, where Reinhart and Anne Bothwell dissected the issue in an interview late last week. An excerpt from the interview:

Bothwell: Pan-Asian food is a popular trend, and you point out that several restaurants will open in the coming months. Are you saying they shouldn’t? That only, say, Thai people can cook Thai food?

Reinhart: Certainly not. I think anybody can make any food they like if they are doing it respectfully and doing it well. That was unfortunately not the case here, but I’m still hopeful that will be the case in the restaurants opening in downtown Dallas and elsewhere.

Head over to KERA to hear the full interview.

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