Interview with Brian Reinhart, December 20, 2021

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Interview with Brian Reinhart, December 20, 2021


Asian Americans
Cooking, American
Food writing







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Betsy Brody


Brian Reinhart

OHMS Object Text

5.4 Interview with Brian Reinhart, December 20, 2021 2021oh002_di_004 01:35:34 ohdi Digging In di001 How Food, Culture, and Class Shaped Asian Dallas Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans This project is possible thanks to the support of a Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship. Asian Americans Texas--History Cooking, American Food writing Brian Reinhart Betsy Brody m4a oh_audio_dig_reinhart_brian20211220.m4a 1:|18(11)|41(12)|52(14)|68(3)|80(2)|93(3)|106(5)|121(14)|135(10)|146(11)|160(15)|175(7)|188(11)|200(9)|212(8)|231(5)|241(6)|254(5)|269(8)|286(10)|302(14)|313(2)|327(1)|336(5)|347(8)|358(4)|368(13)|394(3)|410(1)|423(1)|440(8)|458(12)|470(15)|478(7)|499(6)|510(3)|520(15)|534(12)|546(11)|556(2)|566(1)|578(5)|593(8)|605(13)|624(7)|635(5)|654(7)|664(14)|674(8)|688(4)|700(1)|714(2)|727(2)|738(6)|751(2)|761(13)|774(7)|787(9)|798(6)|818(4)|831(8)|844(2)|856(4)|874(9)|889(8)|903(6)|913(13)|926(1)|939(11)|953(2)|964(1)|974(1)|994(5)|1005(14)|1019(6)|1029(11)|1039(6)|1052(11)|1063(11)|1088(14)|1106(8)|1120(8)|1133(5)|1147(10)|1160(3)|1172(11)|1184(1)|1198(15)|1210(11)|1223(7)|1233(6)|1247(10)|1257(7)|1271(7)|1298(6) 0 Aviary audio 8 Introduction Asian Americans ; Cooking, American ; Food writing ; Texas--History 40 Moving to Texas from Indiana Dallas ; Texas 97 Food writing at the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News Dallas Morning News ; Dallas Observer ; food writing ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews 353 Food landscape in Dallas Anthony Bourdain ; burgers ; chain ; chicken fried steak ; corporate ; culture ; Dallas ; Dean Fearing ; diverse ; food landscape ; Food Network ; food scene ; James Beard Award ; Southwestern ; steaks ; Stephan Pyles 703 Dallas named &quot ; Restaurant City of the Year&quot ; in 2019/ Role of food media Bon Appetit ; food media ; media ; responsibility ; Restaurant City of the Year 827 Impact of tornado, COVID, labor shortages on the food industry in Dallas alcohol ; corporate ; COVID ; family style ; Korean barbecue ; Koryo ; labor shortage ; lease ; pandemic ; shutdown ; supply chain ; tornado 1235 Trends in Dallas food landscape today Asian restaurant ; barbecue ; Dallas ; design ; diverse ; ethnic food ; fine dining ; interior design ; middle class ; plating ; working class 1325 Restaurants as community hubs Asian community ; community ; Dallas Cowboys ; grocery store ; hubs ; Lao ; Laos ; Nalinh Market ; Plano ; restaurants ; Richardson ; Southeast Asian 1449 Restaurants serving as bridges between communities/ Protest dinner at Bilad Bakery Bilad Bakery ; bridge ; community organizing ; connect ; connection ; Iraq ; politics ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; travel ban 1698 Thai food as a bridge to Cambodian and Lao food Apsara ; bridge ; Cambodia ; competition ; competitor ; Donny Sirisavath ; Khao Noodle Shop ; Lao ; Laos ; Nalinh Market ; Nam Khao ; Sikhay ; Thai ; Thai food 1921 Reinhart's philosophy around food writing/ Goals of restaurant reviews culture ; Dallas ; food ; Garland ; law ; neighborhood ; Plano ; politics ; restaurant critic ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; spicy ; suburbs ; Vietnamese 2319 Qualities that make a good restaurant critic Carrollton ; chef ; cookbook ; negative reviews ; restaurant critic ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; Too Thai Street Eats 2562 Impact of social media on food writing Asian Grub in DFDub ; Dallas ; Dallas Halal Restaurant Reviews ; dumb down ; Facebook ; food industry ; industry ; photography ; recipe ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; salty ; spicy ; star ; Yelp 2798 Process around restaurant reviewing Black owned restaurants ; diverse ; diversity ; East Dallas ; Facebook ; Hispanic ; hole in the wall ; internet ; Oak Cliff ; PR ; price points ; public relations ; representation ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; social media ; Yelp 3158 Reflections on the concept of &quot ; authenticity&quot ; and &quot ; appropriation&quot ; American ; Americanized ; appropriation ; Asian restaurant ; authentic ; authenticity ; Baton Rouge ; Beaumont ; Brandon Jiu ; Chef DAT ; Chinatown ; culture ; culture wars ; food ; income inequality ; Manhattan Project Beer ; Mister Jiu's ; mom and pop ; New Orleans ; palate ; political ; politics ; respect ; restaurant business ; Roots Southern Table ; San Francisco ; spring rolls ; Tiffany Derry ; tradition ; western palate 4149 Spectrum of the Dallas food landscape Abacus ; Asian flavors ; chef ; family run restaurant ; fine dining ; food truck ; Kent Rathbun ; mom and pop ; steak ; sushi ; sushi chef ; upscale 4369 Asian restaurants in Dallas- trends and patterns airport ; Asian restaurant ; brand ; cricket ; design ; DFW airport ; Donny Sirisavath ; Everest ; Halal ; interior design ; Irving ; Japanese ; Khao Noodle Shop ; Korean community ; millenials ; Minerva ; momo ; Mr. Sushi ; Nepal ; Nepalese ; ras malai ; remodel ; saku dumplings ; seafood ; supply chain ; Teiichi Sakurai ; Texas Instruments ; tradition ; Tres Leches cake 4877 Reflections on &quot ; fusion&quot ; in the food industry banh mi ; Bishop Arts ; culture ; dumplings ; French ; fusion ; Indian ; Indian food ; Kent Rathbun ; Korean freid chicken ; Pad Thai ; sushi ; tandoori chicken 5002 Impact of &quot ; mom and pop&quot ; restaurants passing to the next generation aesthetics ; biriyani ; Chip and Joanna Gaines ; cleanliness ; creativity ; Dallas Morning News ; Desi District ; design ; ethnic ; ethnic food ; food critics ; generation ; gulab jamun ; health inspection ; Indian restaurants ; interior design ; labor ; lower class ; Magnolia ; mom and pop ; negative reviews ; restaurant reviewer ; restaurant reviews ; reviews ; stereotypes 5329 Future of Asian food in Dallas Asian restaurant ; Carrollton ; chef ; Dallas ; downtown ; growth ; H Mart ; Han Gil Hotel Town ; hotel ; immigrant ; J.C. Penney ; Korean barbecue ; Koreatown ; landlord ; Michelin ; NGON ; Nuri Grill ; Old Denton Road ; real estate ; restaurants ; segregation ; Seoul ; South Korea ; suburbs ; Toyota ; Troy Gardner ; Uptown ; Vietnamese ; West Dallas |00:00:08| BRODY This is Betsy Brody. Today is December 20th, 2021. I am interviewing for the first time, Mr. Brian Reinhart. This interview is taking place in my home office in Richardson, Texas. This interview is possible thanks to the support of a Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship and as part of the project entitled Digging In: How Food Culture and Class Shaped the Story of [Asian] Dallas. Hi, Brian, how are you? Thank you for coming today. |00:00:38| REINHART Thank you. Thank you. |00:00:39| BRODY Just to start out with, would you tell me briefly where and when you were born? |00:00:45| REINHART I was born in 1989 in Columbus, Indiana. |00:00:48| BRODY Great. What brought you to Texas? |00:00:50| REINHART I moved with my family when I- the week I turned 16. We came down for employment reasons and settled outside of San Antonio. And then I... so I&#039 ; ve lived in actually three major Texas cities because I went to college in Houston and then moved to Dallas in 2012. |00:01:12| BRODY What brought you to Dallas? |00:01:14| REINHART My first full time job out of college was here in Dallas. |00:01:19| BRODY What were you doing? |00:01:21| REINHART I work and I worked and still work. I&#039 ; ll start over. I worked and still work at a community college in the Dallas area, doing marketing materials and website updates and writing of various kinds. |00:01:37| BRODY Fantastic, well, what is your current position in terms of food writing? |00:01:43| REINHART I&#039 ; m the restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News and from 2016 until earlier this year held that position for the Dallas Observer newspaper. [After this interview was completed, Mr. Reinhart was named Dining Critic for D Magazine.] |00:01:53| BRODY What led you into that line of work? |00:01:58| REINHART I became a food writer more or less by mistake. My friend and I applied to do blogging for the Dallas Observer. Together...Observer. Together. We started off as coauthors. She&#039 ; s from Singapore, and she wanted to go to places that reminded her of home and have the foods that she missed from Singapore that aren&#039 ; t over here or aren&#039 ; t as common. And then I did the writing part. And so she would more or less we would go together and she would tell me how good it was. And then I would do the massaging of the words, basically. At the time that was 2015, and at the time we were splitting the author fee. So we were making a whole twelve dollars and fifty cents per person per article, which we spent while we were at the restaurant more or less. |00:02:55| BRODY I would imagine. How did you decide on which restaurants to go to? What was your method? |00:03:02| REINHART Initially, she had a list of places that she wanted to try, that she wanted to, you know, investigate for nostalgic purposes. So we stuck to that. Eventually, we started branching out, and I ever since have followed my own interests more or less. I initially- I&#039 ; m half Turkish, my mother is from Istanbul, so I started writing about Turkish pizzas and baklava and things like that. And then, you know, if I heard about a place that sounded interesting to me, I would cover that. Fortunately, have only been asked or assigned to review a restaurant. Once, maybe twice. Everything else since then has just been purely curiosity driven. |00:03:48| BRODY Yeah, that&#039 ; s fantastic. What types of things interest you? What types of foods and what types of restaurants excite you? |00:04:05| REINHART I didn&#039 ; t grow up with a lot of fine dining or European continental, traditional western restaurants and my background, it wasn&#039 ; t really something that we went to. There weren&#039 ; t a lot of, you know, four star type restaurants in southern Indiana by the conventional measures that people use at the time. So I didn&#039 ; t have a lot of experience with that. I didn&#039 ; t know a lot about French cooking. I first had caviar on the job for the Dallas Observer. |00:04:40| BRODY What did you think of it? |00:04:42| REINHART It&#039 ; s fine. It&#039 ; s salty, but it&#039 ; s nice. I. You know, it&#039 ; s it doesn&#039 ; t live up to their reputation in anything other than the difficulty of sourcing it, I guess. Right. Like, I also first had truffles the year before, and they&#039 ; re fine. They kind of taste like potato chips, but so always, always drove us... I&#039 ; m going to start over. What always drove us was a curiosity about different cultures and different cuisines. We moved to Detroit and we immersed ourselves in eating all of the Lebanese food that we could. We spent, you know, weeks and weeks going to various different shawarma places and shish kebab places. And whenever we traveled, we&#039 ; d find like, &quot ; Oh, there&#039 ; s a Polish restaurant, oh, there&#039 ; s a Hungarian restaurant.&quot ; We weren&#039 ; t really looking for, &quot ; Oh, there is a place with white tablecloths and a fixed price menu and that kind of thing.&quot ; |00:05:48| BRODY Great those sound like great memories as well. What did you know about Dallas and particularly the restaurant scene in Dallas before you got here? |00:06:02| REINHART I think I knew almost nothing about food in Dallas before I got here. Before I moved, I&#039 ; d had one meal in Dallas, which was a Hunky&#039 ; s Burgers in Oak Cliff in Bishop Arts Neighborhood. Oh, and I visited a friend and had another burger at another place, Twisted Root, so everything I knew about Dallas was burgers. I didn&#039 ; t, you know, there was a bit of a reputation about Southwestern food, cowboy type food and, you know, steaks and so forth, but at the time, being 22, I didn&#039 ; t have the budget for steaks and didn&#039 ; t really know a lot to didn&#039 ; t know what to expect, didn&#039 ; t know a lot about it at all. |00:06:47| BRODY So then your impressions when you got here were fresh and not full of preconceived ideas that were being overturned, what were your initial impressions? |00:06:56| REINHART Yeah, actually, you know, even to this day, there are lists that people produce of like the iconic Dallas restaurants that you have to go to before you can say that you&#039 ; re a Dallasite. And I&#039 ; ve been to maybe half of them. |00:07:06| BRODY That&#039 ; s really interesting. |00:07:08| REINHART Because a lot of them are very old school and very, you know, traditional American and especially white American food. Chicken fried steaks or ice cream sundaes or whatnot. And I just haven&#039 ; t had the chance. |00:07:28| BRODY And it sounds like because you&#039 ; re driven by curiosity and what&#039 ; s interesting to you, that maybe you&#039 ; ve been doing some- exploring some other things. So today, how would you characterize the food landscape in Dallas? |00:07:44| REINHART I tell other people in the business there&#039 ; s probably there&#039 ; s almost no other city that I&#039 ; d rather be in and write about the food in. Dallas is an extraordinarily rich and diverse city for its food. We have all kinds of- we have more or less everything you could want. And we also don&#039 ; t have a lot of people covering it. We don&#039 ; t have the reputation for it. So it&#039 ; s kind of free rein. I have the ability to cover all these things that nobody else is talking about and talk about them as much as they want to. It&#039 ; s-it&#039 ; s a treat, you know, I could, I&#039 ; m sure, go to New York or Los Angeles and enjoy, you know, the superior offerings that they may have, but they also know about it, they know that they have great food, they have many, many writers who are covering it. They have television programs about it. They have documentaries. And we don&#039 ; t have any of that. So it&#039 ; s kind of like, it&#039 ; s like exploring. It&#039 ; s really fun. |00:08:47| BRODY Why do you think Dallas doesn&#039 ; t have that reputation? |00:08:51| REINHART We&#039 ; ve- our food scene has been dominated by corporate run concepts for a long time. And it is known nationally as- for two things, one of them is the creation of chain restaurants, you know, we originated Chili&#039 ; s, we have the headquarters for that&#039 ; s I think Brinker, the Olive Garden people. I might be getting that wrong. It might be the Red Lobster people or- no, the Red Lobster and Olive Garden are the same people. Anyway, the first thing, we&#039 ; re dominant. We have a national reputation for chains and producing and distributing chains. Oh, Fuddruckers, that was us too. Now it&#039 ; s headquartered out of Houston. But the second thing is, I think also that kind of cowboy steak thing is what established our reputation nationally. Our only two James Beard Award winners for Best Chef in the United States |Southwest| have been Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing, who are boomer generation men who became famous for steaks and, you know, southwestern food and big, hearty portions of really big, rich meals with lots of, you know, peppers and vegetables and slabs of meat. And I think that&#039 ; s affected our reputation ever since. I don&#039 ; t think really it&#039 ; s...I don&#039 ; t think that the changes that have happened in the last 20, 30 years have been noticed outside of Dallas until pretty recently. |00:10:22| BRODY Yeah, why do you think so? Why do you think that&#039 ; s the case? Any theories? |00:10:27| REINHART We&#039 ; re not America&#039 ; s favorite city to start with. I think. We fly under the radar because we are kind of ugly. We don&#039 ; t really have tourist attractions. You know, when people are talking about where should we go? You know, you can say, Oh, let&#039 ; s go to Dallas to see where JFK was assassinated, right? You know, when my family visits, I have a hard time finding places to take them. And you know, people know us for the airport. People know us for being a stop on the journey to somewhere nicer. People know us for economic opportunity, but not necessarily culture or having beaches or mountains or any of those things. So it&#039 ; s been pretty easy for us to slip by under the radar. I think actually the same thing happened down in Houston until about 2010, when people like Anthony Bourdain and the Food Network started finally noticing that Houston was really, really exciting and diverse and full of different people doing different things and pursuing their own crazy ideas. We&#039 ; re very similar. We&#039 ; re just five to 10 years behind in the perception. |00:11:42| BRODY Do you think that same pattern will hold? And do you think Dallas is about to be discovered? |00:11:48| REINHART I think so. I think our time is coming. I think it helped that the magazine Bon Appetit called us the Restaurant City of the Year in 2019. Now, their previous winner was Portland, Maine. So, you know, there is a little bit of arbitrariness to that. But we had a lot of momentum. And of course, the pandemic has affected that momentum pretty significantly. But I think that the people here, the restaurateurs here, the chefs here, are ready to take that momentum right back. I think they&#039 ; re ready to keep going. So, you know, in the media, I think we feel a sense of purpose to help them keep that going and help keep us in the spotlight. |00:12:34| BRODY Yeah, that&#039 ; s a good point. The sort of the relationship between food media and the people who own and run restaurants...What do you- how would you characterize that relationship and even the responsibilities? |00:12:53| REINHART Yeah, it&#039 ; s a two part relationship. I see us as being consumer advocates first, so we act in the same way that, you know, Consumer Reports would or any other, any other group that&#039 ; s standing up for the customer. But then I also see us as standing up for the restaurant owners and restaurant industry in the national context, in the statewide context, and, you know, in the marketplace. So it&#039 ; s a challenge. It&#039 ; s a balance to be kind of an encouraging and a cheerleader, but also to make sure that people are accountable and they&#039 ; re not, you know, outrageously bilking customers or stealing recipes or exploiting labor, et cetera. |00:13:40| BRODY Right? That&#039 ; s really interesting. That kind of.. I&#039 ; m going to ask you...In Dallas in particular in the past few years and you alluded to COVID already. People in the food industry have faced a number of challenges, starting with the tornado in 2019. That hit a lot of a lot of people in Dallas, but certainly some restaurants as well. Then COVID shortly thereafter and then the labor shortages and challenges that with supply chain that have come since then. What are, you know, in light of all that, are there any anecdotes or observations or reflections that you have about this, those patterns? |00:14:24| REINHART I&#039 ; m amazed people are still serving food. I&#039 ; m amazed that people are still walking into this industry, but I&#039 ; m more so, I&#039 ; m impressed that it hasn&#039 ; t turned into corporate big business like I expected at the start of the pandemic, we were very afraid that everybody would kind of fail on their lease and then all the big chains and big investment companies would take up all of the leases and all those little guys and convert them into the next, you know, Applebee&#039 ; s or whatnot. And it turns out everybody has been suffering more or less equally. And in fact, a lot of those big chains have been suffering more so than the little independent restaurants, which is not something that we expected. |00:15:09| BRODY Interesting. |00:15:10| REINHART Yeah. |00:15:10| BRODY Why? Why do you think that it turned out that way? |00:15:14| REINHART I&#039 ; m not sure. I mean, I could have theories, but I could also be completely wrong, right? I know restaurant owners have told me that after the shutdowns happened, when people were able to come back, they thought people wanted to come back for a real experience that you couldn&#039 ; t have at home. Right? So Korean barbecue is booming right now. I think it&#039 ; s probably Korean barbecue and Chinese hotpot are probably two of the most successful sectors in the food industry right now, and they&#039 ; re opening very, very regularly. You know, Haidilao in Frisco is a Chinese chain. My father has been to locations in China, several of them, and he was very excited about it because apparently it&#039 ; s very high end and posh hotpot. But they were having two hour waits in line and people were waiting in line for two hours. The first few months when they opened, he, my father, came and I said, &quot ; Oh, I&#039 ; ll take you there.&quot ; And I looked it up. And you know, it had been open for several months already and people were saying, You really need to call, put your name on a list because they&#039 ; re overrun. And then our Korean barbecue scene has probably doubled just this year and last year. I was talking to the owners of Koryo... |I&#039 ; m going to take a little break and start over.| Koryo was previously known as Koryo Kalbi, and that restaurant then had a previous name in a previous ownership, and it existed since at least the mid 1990s. It&#039 ; s one of the oldest Korean restaurant institutions in the Dallas area and. I believe, but I can&#039 ; t be certain that the previous owner died of non-COVID reasons during the pandemic. |00:17:11| BRODY Oh no. |00:17:13| REINHART And at the time was apparently in the middle of the sale to the new ownership, which is really unfortunate. He apparently had plans to sell and then they would reopen pretty much immediately. But a lot of legal hassle and legal trouble ensued over the estate, and they were recently able to reopen. And now I need to remember where I was going with this. But they recently reopened, and they changed the format kind of from a traditional Korean restaurant with all sorts of like- all the soups and the noodles and so forth to being more of a steak house. They actually dry aged meat. They got one of those really fancy dry aging fridges where they can store meat for up to 120 days before they serve it for the barbecue. Yeah, they&#039 ; re putting in a wine list and a wine cellar. They&#039 ; re doing happy hours with oysters. It&#039 ; s a very upscale experience, and they told me that they thought people really wanted to come out and have that shared experience of a night that&#039 ; s really an event, not just, you know, well I can sit at home and order a pizza, or I can go out with all of my friends and we could grill fancy dry aged meat that we don&#039 ; t have access to at home. And we could drink a bunch of wine and have a bunch of oysters shucked for us and so on. |00:18:38| BRODY And have that communal experience. And so it sounds like what you&#039 ; re saying is that that one effect of COVID and some of these other challenges is that people are looking for something different in their night out. |00:18:54| REINHART Yeah, I think there&#039 ; s definitely a changed expectation for the experience. They also put in at Koryo, dimmer switches for all the lights in the private dining rooms, which there are six or seven of and dimmer switches for the music. So if you think it&#039 ; s too loud, you can go up to the doorway and turn the volume down. |00:19:17| BRODY And these are private rooms that you could just have your own group. |00:19:20| REINHART Yeah, you can have a table for four or six in there. |00:19:22| BRODY Yeah, yeah, that seems like it&#039 ; s a balance between, you know, being with other people in a restaurant setting, but also just being with your own intimate party as well. It&#039 ; s really interesting. |00:19:35| REINHART I talked to another restaurant owner. Sorry. Now this is this is more of a corporate group. This is not a small or even Asian owned property. But he told me that during the pandemic, their pizza place did record business and never died down and never had a problem. But everything else did, of course. And now they&#039 ; re kind of...They are also trying to capture that experiential feel. They&#039 ; re doing, it&#039 ; s a, like a yacht, marina, San Diego themed restaurant where they have TVs, but the TV&#039 ; s don&#039 ; t show sports, the TV shows like pictures of beaches and sea anemones and all these are like cute, vibrant coral type colors. And you know, the cocktails are themed and everything is themed. |00:20:27| BRODY So to feel like you&#039 ; ve transported yourself somewhere else,. |00:20:30| REINHART You&#039 ; re no longer in your home office. |00:20:33| BRODY That&#039 ; s really interesting. So how would you characterize the food landscape in Dallas today? |00:20:40| REINHART I think we have one of the best and most diverse food landscapes in the country. I think probably top 10. What I usually tell people is six or seventh. I think that we are- we have grown in certain ways in the past five to 10 years. We&#039 ; ve grown in the middle class sector, especially. I think that there&#039 ; s always been a very healthy scene for people who have a lot of money to spend and a lot of prestige to acquire through their dining, so to speak. And I think we&#039 ; ve always done fairly well down at the more working class end with barbecue and burgers and various nationalities expressing themselves. Tacos. But we&#039 ; ve really seen a stronger development of kind of the middle class areas, places where you might go for a date night or also we&#039 ; re starting to see the second generation of a lot of immigrant families who are opening places that have a little more style or a consistent, like a design aesthetic, or they pay attention to plating or something like that. And that&#039 ; s become. Very apparent in a lot of Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisines, I think especially so that&#039 ; s a very interesting development. |00:22:02| BRODY Really interesting. And some people say that restaurants, especially restaurants that represent a particular nationality or a different culture, can serve as a hub for the communities. Has that been your observation of restaurants in Dallas, whether Asian or not. |00:22:22| REINHART Oh, absolutely. In my neighborhood, we have a Mexican restaurant in Oak Cliff, where everybody comes for Cowboys games. If you go Sunday at 12 noon, nobody will be eating lunch. The restaurant will be empty. And then if you come Sunday at 2:00 p.m. when the game starts, every single table is full. Everybody has brought a case of very cheap beer and you know, the restaurant has become absolutely a center for community togetherness over the Dallas Cowboys. And that&#039 ; s true I know in a lot of cultures. I think that a lot of, for example, Nalinh Market started out as a grocery store for Southeast Asian and especially Lao people and became a Lao community hub. They started to ask the owner, &quot ; Well, can&#039 ; t we stay? Can&#039 ; t you make us some food? And then we can stay here and talk to you?&quot ; And she started off with a Bunsen burner and she would cook meals over a Bunsen burner so that people could stay and chat and have that sense of togetherness, togetherness...Yeah. I mean, there are many more examples. I think that a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants do a remarkable job of that because they also have charitable sides. If you&#039 ; re. Not able to afford a meal. You can still come and eat, and you don&#039 ; t have to worry about paying. Bilad Bakery in Richardson does that. I think, I think there are quite a few others in Richardson and Plano who do that. |00:24:08| BRODY And what about also we&#039 ; ve just talked about restaurant serving as hubs for their own communities, but also as bridges. And maybe your Dallas Cowboys story is an indication of that. But are there ways that you&#039 ; ve observed that that restaurants serve as bridges between different communities or different cultures here in Dallas? |00:24:34| REINHART OK, that&#039 ; s a good one. And just that bridges that I wasn&#039 ; t able to think about it. Well, I have one example that I immediately think of. was, let&#039 ; s see, in December 2016. I was thinking about what restaurants to review in the new year and particularly what restaurants to review after the beginning of the new presidential term at that time. And I chose to do, I think it was 10 in a row immigrant run restaurants that were not- Western Europe, it didn&#039 ; t count. It couldn&#039 ; t be French. That couldn&#039 ; t be Italian, they couldn&#039 ; t be Spanish. And one of them was Bilad Bakery, the Iraqi restaurant in Richardson. And I became concerned because then the travel ban started where people from Iraq could not travel to the U.S. and I started thinking, &quot ; Well, if maybe if I publish this, something bad will happen to them,&quot ; or somebody will mark them out and say, &quot ; Look, that&#039 ; s where the Iraqi people are.&quot ; You know that there might be some harm that might come to them of that in that political climate that was prevailing at the time. But instead, it became our most read restaurant review ever at the time. And a community organizer came from New York to do sort of a protest dinner to raise awareness about the travel ban and about communities from travel banned countries. And they arranged for the dinner to happen at that restaurant, and they arranged it was going to be basically like there was going to be one dinner on a....whichever night it was...Thursday night and you know, they were going to seat 40 people and because that was the restaurant&#039 ; s capacity. And that would be the whole thing, that was it. It sold out so quickly that they added a second seating. They had dinners at six and eight and then further they had to go out and rent a bunch of tables and chairs. They rented plastic, you know, bulk. I think it&#039 ; s Lifetime brand tables and chairs. And that night, you know, that was that was the most customers they&#039 ; d ever had. Obviously, it was, you know, they seated more than their capacity twice. Almost all those people had never been there before. I think I was probably one of two to three people who&#039 ; d ever been there before at all. And, you know, I think almost everybody became a regular. That&#039 ; s still the number one place that people ask me about or tell me about. Like somebody stopped me in a grocery store line and said, I still go to that place in Richardson. And that was- that came from that dinner. You know, nobody there was in that community at all. |00:27:38| BRODY Right. So that built a whole new clientele and a whole new set of connections. |00:27:42| REINHART Right. |00:27:43| BRODY And I know they still have your review hanging above the cash register. |00:27:47| REINHART It&#039 ; s kind of enormous. |00:27:49| BRODY It&#039 ; s very big. |00:27:51| REINHART One of their friends did that. For them, that was a their friend owns a print shop and they did that for free and gave it to them as a gift. |00:27:57| BRODY It&#039 ; s really nice and it&#039 ; s a great review as well. |00:28:00| REINHART Yeah, so you can&#039 ; t you can&#039 ; t blame them for how huge it is. |00:28:03| BRODY No, not at all. And that&#039 ; s a really. That&#039 ; s a great story and a great. |00:28:11| REINHART Oh, I have another. |00:28:11| BRODY Connection between this, you know, the community organizing and the restaurant review. Go ahead. |00:28:18| REINHART Yeah. Well, I was talking to Joseph Be, I think is his name from Apsara- a-p-s-a-r-a, which is a new or newish- its a year old- Cambodian food court stall in Grand Prairie. And he was talking about how he wanted to use the restaurant as that bridge to make those connections to bring more kind of awareness of Cambodian food community. And he used the example of the way that Khao Noodle Shop and Nalinh Market have been able to do that for Lao food in Dallas. He said, You know, five years ago, nobody knew what Laos was, where it was anything about the food outside of the immediate community, outside of actual, you know, Southeast Asian people in the area. And now they do. And now they&#039 ; ll go to Khao and they&#039 ; ll eat the bowl, and now they&#039 ; ll go to the Nalinh and get the Nam Khao or something like that. So he said, Well, I&#039 ; m planning to do the same thing for Cambodia. There&#039 ; s no reason that Cambodia can&#039 ; t have that same success that Laos had. And because our food is delicious, too, was essentially his feeling. So he started off and it is called, I think it is called &quot ; Thai and Cambodian.&quot ; And he said, Well, you have to put the &quot ; Thai&quot ; in there because people know Thai food is. And that&#039 ; s the same story that has happened with a lot of the Lao restaurants. They all say, like Sikhay in Fort Worth, they all say &quot ; Lao&quot ; and &quot ; Thai&quot ; in the title. And he said, &quot ; Well, someday maybe we&#039 ; ll be able to drop the Thai and people will know and they&#039 ; ll be coming for the Cambodian food, but we&#039 ; re not there yet,&quot ; but he said, &quot ; maybe in a couple of years. We will be. And maybe there will be competition and people will learn from the competition and they&#039 ; ll see, oh, there, you know, six or seven different Cambodian restaurants now and become more familiar that way.&quot ; |00:30:14| BRODY Right. And using that, the Thai as an entry and entry way for people to sort of know it&#039 ; s kind of like this... |00:30:22| REINHART A really common thread that I&#039 ; ve observed in immigrant communities like that is that they really, really want competition. And they&#039 ; re always very happy to have competition because they always tell me a rising tide lifts all boats, right? The more people know what Lao food is, the more people will go out and order it, and they don&#039 ; t care if you&#039 ; re ordering it from their restaurant or somebody else&#039 ; s restaurant. The more they you know what larb is, the more that you know what all these other dishes are, the more that you&#039 ; re going to want them. Right, right? And that was their thinking. You know, they want to be like Italian food. They don&#039 ; t want to be the only one. |00:30:58| BRODY Right? And also, you know, to communicate with each other and make those choices about what you know, what you&#039 ; re putting on the menu and what you&#039 ; re exposing other people to from your own culture and sort of share the responsibility in the work. Thank you for that. Can you describe some of your most memorable experiences as a food writer in Dallas? |00:31:24| REINHART OK? |00:31:25| BRODY You&#039 ; ve described a few really great stories on |00:31:27| REINHART Done a few already. I feel like it would be very easy to like go down the negative road of times that crazy things have happened, but... |00:31:42| BRODY Whichever, whichever direction you&#039 ; d like to go in. |00:31:44| REINHART Let&#039 ; s see. I don&#039 ; t know, I mean, I think I&#039 ; ll probably come up with a really good answer 20 minutes from now. |00:31:56| BRODY That&#039 ; s OK. Well, we can come back to that. But let&#039 ; s shift gears and talk about food writing in general. What is your philosophy around food writing? |00:32:08| REINHART Oh, OK. I think I&#039 ; m more of a descriptive person than a prescriptive person, and despite the title being &quot ; critic&quot ; you know that generally is associated with the idea that you should be telling people, &quot ; Well, the pasta is overcooked and the you know this and that, and here is where you should be eating.&quot ; I see it more as documenting where people go and what they&#039 ; re having and what they want. And kind of observing things in a more, in a more neutral way? No that&#039 ; s not right. I don&#039 ; t know...I&#039 ; ll have to think about that, but I see it more as approaching the city where it is rather than wishing it were a little bit more like somewhere else. And I think also I had another thought. I&#039 ; m interested in going beyond the food also, right? Going beyond the plate, food can be used to talk about culture. It can be used to talk about politics and law. It can be used to talk about history, certainly, and those things also have a lot of interest for me. Obviously, it&#039 ; s great that delicious food is delicious, but you can also learn about the neighborhood and the people and the culture. I think actually some of the Asian restaurants in old east Dallas are really important to that because that is a neighborhood where a lot of people were settled right after they came to the country in the 1970s, and since then, a lot of them have moved out to the suburbs and kind of gone to Garland or Plano or wherever. But there are a couple of originals still down there. And I know you&#039 ; re going to be talking to some of them are trying to talk to. |00:34:20| BRODY Hope so. |00:34:20| REINHART But that, you know, for somebody who doesn&#039 ; t know, they may just think, Oh, cool, it&#039 ; s cool that we have a Vietnamese restaurant in, you know, on Ross or whichever street it is. But that is a real link to our past and that a real piece of Dallas history, you know, it&#039 ; s something that speaks to something the way that things were going 40 years ago and the way that the neighborhood was. |00:34:43| BRODY Exactly, and sort of the story of the changing face of Dallas. |00:34:48| REINHART Mm-Hmm. |00:34:50| BRODY What is the goal of a restaurant review, in your view? |00:34:55| REINHART Oh, OK. That&#039 ; s a really good question. I think probably traditionally the goal of a restaurant review is to tell people where to go and where not to go, right? I think that my thought is a little different. I want you to be able to come away from the restaurant review, knowing whether you want to go there, regardless of how I felt. So I think it is totally possible that I might not like a place and but you&#039 ; re going to think it&#039 ; s great. So I try to convey that or the opposite that, you know, maybe I&#039 ; m getting carried away here. Just, just last week, we went to a place and it was fabulous and it was perfect and we went crazy for it. And my partner said, &quot ; You have to write a review of this&quot ; after about three bites. But we also had had a couple of beers. So we&#039 ; re going back on Tuesday sober this time to visit because it&#039 ; s I think it&#039 ; s very subjective in general. And, you know, there are parts of it that always will be, you know, I could say, well, the food is really spicy. That doesn&#039 ; t really help you at all. You know, my mother can&#039 ; t really handle spicy food at all, and she thinks that a single jalapeno is terrifying. And then, you know, you have people on the other end of the spectrum. I have friends who will go to the Thai restaurants and they&#039 ; ll ask for something to be level six or whatever, like, Oh, you have five levels, OK, I want the sixth level, so I don&#039 ; t think that&#039 ; s really... So I try to write around those issues and I try to write so that, you know, you can make your own judgment at the end. But also, I want to say I feel like going back to the very original question, which was the point of a restaurant review. I think also we&#039 ; re painting a picture, right? I think we&#039 ; re painting like a big group portrait of the city and its dining. It&#039 ; s like a 1700s painting, like the painting of the Greek philosophers on the steps- or I mean, maybe even a painting of the Last Supper or whatever. Because as the critic, you&#039 ; re deciding who gets in the frame of the picture and who gets left out of the frame of the picture and with each review, you&#039 ; re kind of incrementally building a case, it&#039 ; s, you know, it&#039 ; s a one off in the sense that you&#039 ; re telling people where to go. But cumulatively, hopefully you&#039 ; re building a body of work and you&#039 ; re building an argument and you&#039 ; re painting that picture. And that&#039 ; s kind of been my project for the last five years has been kind of reframing it and getting more people in there. |00:37:45| BRODY What would you say is your argument in a nutshell? |00:37:52| REINHART Oh, OK. I think I&#039 ; d say my argument in nutshell is you got to come down to Dallas and try all of this amazing stuff and that you need to be looking, not necessarily in the places and neighborhoods that you would expect to be looking. You know, you can eat for a week here outstandingly without ever going downtown or to uptown. And you can eat outstandingly without ever having a meal that costs more than $70 or whatever. And there&#039 ; s things happening all the time. You know, come on down. Visit us. |00:38:35| BRODY I love hearing about your you&#039 ; re thinking in your process. Just want to follow that up with what qualities do you think make a good restaurant critic? |00:38:44| REINHART Oh, OK. Well, I&#039 ; ve been watching a lot of TV shows like Psych, where the restaurant critic gets murdered and then they have to solve. [Alarm goes off] And then they have to solve the case, right? I think there&#039 ; s generally a perception, at least in trashy television murder mysteries. There&#039 ; s a perception that restaurant critics are either on the take or just kind of mean or kind of playing a game or, you know, toying with people the way that like a cat might catch a mouse and play with it before it eats it. You know, there was there was one on the Mallorca Files where, like the restaurant critic comes in with all of his chef buddies and then like yells at the chef who works at the restaurant says, like, &quot ; Well, we need these 27 different accommodations and substitutions.&quot ; And then of course, somebody poisons him. But, you know, I don&#039 ; t think it&#039 ; s like that at all. I think you need to have humility and basic decency and niceness, actually, because, you know, if you&#039 ; re going to be delivering bad news and saying unkind things or saying critical things, and it needs to be coming from a place of constructive feedback and a place of empathy and a place of, you know, genuinely trying to help. There are a couple of places that may be well beyond our help. There may be, you know, genuine rip offs out there. It happens every once in a while. But other than that, you know, you have to you have to care and have heart and you have to know what a restaurant can take. I don&#039 ; t think...I think I learned very early on it&#039 ; s not worth it to write harshly about small mom and pops, because without you, they wouldn&#039 ; t have a lot of publicity anyways. So they don&#039 ; t. They don&#039 ; t. They certainly don&#039 ; t need negative publicity is not going to help them, you know, change or improve or. Or survive. |00:41:08| BRODY It seems like that ties back into your sort of philosophy around food writing in the first place that it&#039 ; s not really to tell people where to go, but to paint a picture. |00:41:19| REINHART Yeah. I think also a good critic, obviously should be super curious. Right? That&#039 ; s something that I&#039 ; ve been--that was something I was lucky enough to start with, but also, you know, I have a research background. So for example, one time I was reviewing a restaurant and I didn&#039 ; t understand how the dishes worked, so to speak, how you prepare them. It was Too Thai Street Eats in Carrollton, which is fabulous. They have they have like a really crispy fried pancakes with mussels in them, which are fabulous. They, the &quot ; fried-ness&quot ; is very hard to describe. It&#039 ; s very bubbly. Like, I don&#039 ; t even know. I mean, it&#039 ; s not like a pancake or anything. It&#039 ; s...very airy and light. Except when you hit a mussel. But so, I didn&#039 ; t know how on earth do you do that? So I went out and started buying cookbooks so I could read through the book and then go to the restaurant and see like, Oh, OK, well, they followed this and that taste I was getting was this thing in the cookbook. |00:42:32| BRODY That&#039 ; s really above and beyond. |00:42:34| REINHART Yeah, yeah. They didn&#039 ; t pay me back for the cookbook either. |00:42:37| BRODY That&#039 ; s a bummer. Oh, something that when I think about restaurant reviewers and food writers, I wonder what has been the impact on the way that you do your work of the internet and the advent of sort of online, crowdsourced, you know, Yelp and things like that? Has that changed how you approach restaurant reviewing? |00:43:08| REINHART Only a little bit, I think people are surprised when I say that because they expect the answer to be, well, it&#039 ; s, you know, an existential crisis. And that&#039 ; s true in the sense that we&#039 ; re probably not getting paid very much anymore because the internet exists. But for me personally, when I am doing research, I use the photos that people post on Yelp and I use the photos and kind of news items that are put in Facebook groups. There are some excellent Facebook groups that are great resources in the Dallas area. &quot ; Asian Grub&quot ; of course, and then &quot ; Dallas Halal Restaurant Reviews,&quot ; which is also a source of just amazing drama. They are fighting all the time. They are yelling at each other and actually related to something we&#039 ; ve alluded to in a past conversation. They sometimes will just switch to Urdu so they can yell at each other in the comment section. It&#039 ; s fantastic, but... |00:44:08| BRODY It sounds amazing. |00:44:09| REINHART I use photos because I think you can see, you know what you&#039 ; re going to be getting and how much care the restaurant is putting into it. The reviews are almost worthless. You don&#039 ; t know. I mean, some of the things that we&#039 ; ve talked about already, you don&#039 ; t know. What their experience level is. You don&#039 ; t know what they know about the food they&#039 ; re talking about. You don&#039 ; t know how spicy they can take things or how sweet or how salty, etcetera. And a lot of times, you know, those are vengeful, one star, &quot ; Well, they told me to wear a mask.&quot ; . |00:44:44| BRODY Right? |00:44:44| REINHART You know, I think that if anything. It means I&#039 ; m more aware of the way that my work affects people in the industry because I think people in the industry are wary of those platforms, and they have a little bit of fear about, you know, what could happen if people on Yelp decide to tank us and destroy our reputation, right? But for genuine, honest, serious feedback, they&#039 ; re looking to the professionals. They know they can&#039 ; t really trust what people on Yelp say and in terms of like, &quot ; Oh, am I getting this recipe right?&quot ; Let me, you know, let me look on Yelp. And, you know, influencers and people on Instagram and something like that. Same story. So they look to the professionals even more, I think, for, you know, some of that genuine, honest like...Oh...some of that genuine desire to improve. Right? I did have a case where there was a restaurant that was changing the recipe. Every time somebody on Yelp, somebody said something, I went and looked at their page and you know, people, the restaurants are allowed to reply and they&#039 ; re replying to all these reviews saying, &quot ; So sorry, thank you. We&#039 ; re going to change our recipe.&quot ; And all I could think was, you know, how on earth do they maintain any consistency from week to week because they&#039 ; re going to have somebody coming in every single day and are going to be changing it every single day? |00:46:16| BRODY Right. |00:46:16| REINHART And, you know, a month from now, what on earth are they going to be making? They&#039 ; re going to have no idea, right? They were only open about five months. |00:46:27| BRODY Wow. Yeah, I mean, hard to please everybody. You know, and the the loudest people are the ones that are really leaving the review. Just from a nuts and bolts sort of process perspective, what are you looking for like when you walk into a restaurant or when you decide you&#039 ; re going to and to, you know, to review a certain place? |00:46:52| REINHART Does that include how I decide to? OK, cool. Well, because it&#039 ; s very fluid, actually. And you know, for example, last week with the aid of those beers, we decided, Oh, we gotta, we gotta punch this one into the schedule somewhere soon, right? But generally, I think I probably spend more time deciding where to go than actually going there. I think I&#039 ; m, you know, I look at new openings and new listings. Actually, Yelp is a little bit helpful for the &quot ; hot to new&quot ; filter, which is their filter that shows you new openings. The only problem is that they don&#039 ; t show you new openings, or I should say they&#039 ; re I think they&#039 ; re pretty much customer reported. And Yelp is more popular among certain races and demographics. So, for example, Black restaurant openings in South Dallas, Black owned restaurant openings in South Dallas almost never get reported on Yelp. So that is something I have to find other ways. Anyway, I scour the internet in general, looking for new openings all across the region, and then I kind of build the schedule based on diversity. So that&#039 ; s regional. Like, OK, I did something in Oak Cliff. Now I&#039 ; m going to try to do something up north in Plano. And then I, you know, after I do something in Plano, maybe I&#039 ; ll try to go to Irving or East Dallas or something like that. And then that&#039 ; s also price points. We don&#039 ; t want to do three expensive places in a row for either budget reasons or, you know, reader reasons. Culinary diversity also. Every year I try to do, you know, one or two Korean places. A few Hispanic places try to keep the mix resembling what I perceive to be the mix of the food in Dallas. We had to overcorrect at the beginning, I think, because, you know, everybody had talked about all of the really famous places downtown and all of the, you know, kind of good old traditional places downtown. So I overcorrected for a few years and spent all of my time in the suburbs and spent all my time eating, you know, a little hole in the wall and little lesser known places or places that were not very well known outside of their immediate community. But now I think I can try to... I can try to authentically capture some of the city&#039 ; s diversity without forcing it, without having quotas, without having, you know, strict rules about, well, I can only do one fancy restaurant a month or whatever. |00:49:47| BRODY Right? So balancing a desire to kind of represent all different styles and types and price points with sort of the natural flow of what&#039 ; s opening and what&#039 ; s, you know... |00:49:59| REINHART Yeah. So that is actually that is a bit of contention is that, you know, a lot of them have to be newish, right? And just the way that it works is that the newish places that get a lot of attention and get a lot of hype are places that have professional PR people who can email all the media members. Right? So then there becomes an expectation. Oh, well, you&#039 ; re going to review this place, right? Because everybody is talking about this place because it more or less self-generated all of that story, right? And I think for a long time, I think for a long time, restaurant critics were kind of hamstrung by that. The fact that there was this machine kind of determining notability of new openings, but perhaps fortunately, I just didn&#039 ; t know. I didn&#039 ; t know that was the thing, I wasn&#039 ; t part of the system, so, you know, I thought, &quot ; Well, hey, I- part of the privilege of this job is I get to decide what&#039 ; s a notable new opening.&quot ; And it&#039 ; s harder to find places that don&#039 ; t have the PR backing. It&#039 ; s harder to find places to, you know, they don&#039 ; t really know how to get the word out. They- I&#039 ; ve had a couple of cases where they thought that we were advertising and like, I ran a review last year and the person texted me and said, &quot ; Thanks for the great ad.&quot ; And you know, there are places that only know how to use Facebook if that or, you know, right? They can&#039 ; t, they don&#039 ; t have a website. So it&#039 ; s a challenge to find them. But then of course, it becomes much more rewarding to say, &quot ; Hey, look, here&#039 ; s something that&#039 ; s really important that just opened that you need to go to. And also, you don&#039 ; t know about it yet.&quot ; |00:51:48| BRODY Right? That&#039 ; s yeah, that you&#039 ; re a little bit of an explorer, pioneer in that sense. |00:51:55| REINHART I mean, yeah, and I&#039 ; m not really a pioneer, but I think the magician, Teller has a really great quote about how a lot of the time magic is spending more time on something than anybody would reasonably expect you to spend. OK, so if you&#039 ; re, you know, if you&#039 ; re spending hours of your week looking for a cool new restaurant, then going and trying them, I think a lot of people are not expecting that level of intensity. |00:52:21| BRODY Right? That&#039 ; s I mean, it&#039 ; s true. It takes...even with the tools of the internet and all of that, it&#039 ; s, you know, it takes work to find something new, something different, something off the beaten path. So. This kind of relates to another thing that comes up a lot when we talk about especially restaurants that are representing foods of other cultures, you know, the PR ,sort of corporate machine that you were alluding to a second ago that, you know, where a well-known, well-funded restaurant might have publicists and so on. You know, they can portray that restaurant as authentic or as this or that, whereas the, you know, mom and pop shop that, you know, may or may not be more authentic that, you know, doesn&#039 ; t necessarily have that kind of public relations behind them. How would you just sort of describe your experience of this question of authenticity when it comes, especially to restaurants? You know, Asian restaurants or other restaurants from other parts of the world? |00:53:39| REINHART I know I just use the word in a different context, but I don&#039 ; t really actually like the word &quot ; authentic&quot ; and I think it&#039 ; s because, you know, everybody&#039 ; s authentic experience is different. You know, my mother makes Turkish food one way, and all of her friends make things a little bit differently, and they&#039 ; re always begging her for certain recipes. Her red lentil soup, they&#039 ; re always asking what she did differently to make it so much better. And I think restaurants can probably use that too sometimes. But. And then I was talking to, just a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to somebody from New Orleans who works for chef Tiffany Derry at Roots Southern Table, which is Tiffany Derry&#039 ; s very excellent and very acclaimed, kind of upscale or creative or imaginative southern place. And Tiffany Derry is from Beaumont, and she was telling me, well, her gumbo is different from mine. And at first she said, &quot ; Well, mine&#039 ; s more authentic.&quot ; And then I kind of I asked her to explain it a little bit differently, and she said, &quot ; Well, actually, you know, in New Orleans, we just make gumbo a little bit differently. And in Beaumont, they have different ways and they have a different recipe for preparation of gumbo. And then Chef DAT, David Anthony Temple, he&#039 ; s from Baton Rouge, and they make gumbo differently there, too. And his gumbo is different from both of us. And you know, it&#039 ; s only an hour and 15 minutes up the highway, but they&#039 ; ve got a whole different style of gumbo there.&quot ; And I think when you start talking about &quot ; authentic,&quot ; you&#039 ; re always going to run into that. I think I have learned to filter out a lot of the conversation, even within a community online, because when they&#039 ; re saying, &quot ; Well, this is not authentic,&quot ; they may well be saying, &quot ; You know, this is not the way my grandmother did it. This is the way your grandmother did it.&quot ; Of course, the challenge is that then you run into places that genuinely may not be. They may be intentionally Americanized or otherwise playing to the crowd or not fully respectful of the rules. I think I was just reading something from a chef in San Francisco, Brandon Jiu, who&#039 ; s in Chinatown, Mister Jiu&#039 ; s is a very acclaimed restaurant there. And he was talking about how if you learn the culture and if you learn the rules and you respect them, then when you break them, you&#039 ; ll be better at it. And that&#039 ; s kind of what I come back to with the question of authenticity, I guess, is I come back to...Are you showing adequate respect? Do you really genuinely engage with the tradition, do you understand what the tradition is and then is your variation or your invention or your crazy idea- if it comes off of that- Is it delicious? |00:56:45| BRODY Bottom line. |00:56:45| REINHART Yeah. I mean, honestly, that&#039 ; s really the best way to show respect or care for a culture is to make it be good. I think if you if you want to say, for example, you&#039 ; re a white person and you want to make Thai food or whatever, if you&#039 ; re not so good, maybe find something else to do. |00:57:08| BRODY Right. Well, and that kind of brings us right into this. You know, the other side of the coin, I guess, about appropriation. Right? So if you know you&#039 ; re- what -if I&#039 ; ve understood what you&#039 ; ve said that the idea of authenticity to you is rooted in respect because even within a culture, there might be different versions of different foods that are equally authentic. But when? When does appropriation or what you know, what counts as appropriation to you or is that even a thing when we&#039 ; re talking about food? |00:57:47| REINHART It is, I think, from a purely from a writer standpoint, from a rhetorical standpoint, I actually avoid using that word too, because I don&#039 ; t want to lose any readers and because I try to reduce things, this is going to sound condescending, but I try to reduce things to a kindergarten type of level of language. So I try to reduce things down to, you know, &quot ; respect,&quot ; &quot ; listening,&quot ; you know, reserve your judgment or use your judgments, things like that that we all learned in school. Because I think a lot of the time issues of appropriation come back to that. You know, if I decide I&#039 ; m going to open a restaurant and put bacon cheeseburgers into spring rolls or something, I&#039 ; m not really doing my homework. I&#039 ; m not really thinking too carefully about it. I&#039 ; m probably not...If I&#039 ; m coming from a place where I love spring rolls, I might be doing that only superficially. I might not be, you know, actually learning how to make them, you know, training with somebody or, you know, buying all of the cookbooks to study spring roll creation and figure out how to stick bacon cheeseburgers into there in a good way. This is a real example, by the way. I should point out. |00:59:08| BRODY Is it real? |00:59:08| REINHART I had a...Yeah, I&#039 ; ve had they were deep fried, but they were called spring rolls. I know. In Vietnam, spring rolls can be fried. I don&#039 ; t necessarily have to or maybe it&#039 ; s oh, shoot. Man, people are going to judge me if they hear that it&#039 ; s wrong. No, but anyway, the they&#039 ; re much smaller, right? But yes, I had a cheeseburger spring roll. |00:59:31| BRODY Incredible. Was it good? Was it delicious? |00:59:33| REINHART It was.... It was....The flavor was good, but it was very greasy and the meat dried out pretty fast. So I guess when you roll it up and fried it, and then I think they&#039 ; d already cooked the burger patty inside. So it got very dry and then the cheese just kind of like turn into ooze. But I mean, the flavors were, you know, burgerry. But I think they had just, you know, they had the idea and they hadn&#039 ; t really done much of the homework that you might want to put into it. And I think that, you know, showing that respect and doing the research and being willing to listen and learn. It&#039 ; s surprising how hard... I mean. Yeah, it&#039 ; s surprising how hard some people find it to listen. You know, so that&#039 ; s another one that I kind of come back to that can be an example. Actually, there was a brewery, Manhattan Project Beer, so their name is Manhattan Project and all their beer can names are related to science and particularly the Oppenheimer Project and the atomic bomb. They actually have a Hoppenheimer beer, which I think is kind of funny. |01:00:43| BRODY It is kind of funny. |01:00:45| REINHART But they also had a beer called Bikini Atoll, and it was a Gose, which is kind of a tart light summer beer with a fruit flavor in it. I think it&#039 ; s like raspberry Gose and Bikini Atoll was selling well enough that the people who used to live on the Bikini Atoll found out about it, and they said...They sent a letter like the- I think it&#039 ; s the Marshall Islands Minister of Tourism or something- sent a letter to them saying, &quot ; Hey, look, you know, we used to live on the Bikini Atoll, and when they started dropping atomic bombs there, everybody had to leave and most of those people wound up getting cancer. And the cancer rates in that community are 80 percent higher than- or whatever the number was- higher than the cancer rates in normal society. And you know, there are people who are still living with the after effects of that. You know, there are children who are born with defects who are still alive today, and there are older people who have had whatever problems because they were young people at the time. Can you please change your beer name to something else? Can you please change your beer name to something that doesn&#039 ; t seem to celebrate, you know, all the misfortunes these people?&quot ; And they said, &quot ; No, we like the name, we&#039 ; re keeping it. It sounds tropical and the beer is tropical. So no.&quot ; And then, you know, there was kind of an uproar locally. There were a couple of news articles and there were debates on the internet and they said, &quot ; Look, we&#039 ; re not changing the name of the beer and that&#039 ; s final the end. We will not discuss this any further at any time.&quot ; And that was it. And I thought, &quot ; Well, you know, certainly that is something where appropriation is an is an apt word to use because they&#039 ; re taking that name from those people and using it to sell beer, to sell alcohol. But on the other hand, you know, we could reduce it to something even simpler. We could just say, like, &quot ; Look, these are people who didn&#039 ; t want to listen. These are people who didn&#039 ; t want to show a little bit of respect for the wishes of these people.&quot ; So that was an example, one where I don&#039 ; t think I use the word &quot ; appropriation&quot ; because it seemed like they were failing at just a much more basic level of human decency. |01:03:06| BRODY Right? Yeah. And the words definitely &quot ; authenticity&quot ; and &quot ; appropriation&quot ; have taken on something of a life of their own. You know, as I think you&#039 ; re alluding to in trying to avoid using... |01:03:19| REINHART I think it&#039 ; s very easy for somebody to see that and decide like, &quot ; Oh, he&#039 ; s a political whatever&quot ; and then dismiss or attack me on that basis. You know, I&#039 ; ve gotten emails accusing me of being a communist and all sorts of things. Right? |01:03:37| BRODY Really? |01:03:38| REINHART Yeah. We just ran a thing that was talking about how American income inequality might affect the restaurant business and how, you know, the fact that there is a small group of really, really wealthy people who can eat wherever they want, and the rest of us are having to save up our money a little bit- how that would affect the restaurant business and how that&#039 ; s affecting the bottom lines of restaurants that don&#039 ; t serve the super wealthy people. And yeah, that got a lot of reader emails being like, &quot ; Oh, you&#039 ; re super lefty, whatever, whatever, whatever.&quot ; So part of what I&#039 ; m thinking with words even like &quot ; appropriation&quot ; is I know there&#039 ; s culture wars going on and I want to see if I can... I want to see if I can affect somebody&#039 ; s mind without saying what it&#039 ; s about, you know? And of course, it might not work. They might. They might read the article and agree with me and then turn around to the next minute and disagree with everybody else making those same arguments because they see the word &quot ; appropriation&quot ; or something like that. |01:04:42| BRODY Yeah, it sounds like you&#039 ; re saying that it&#039 ; s a goal to you in your reviews and in your writing to be clear and to steer clear of being characterized in a certain way...just for using particular words. |01:04:59| REINHART I don&#039 ; t think -I don&#039 ; t think I care what people think of me. I think what I have learned is that there are certain words that can get people to tune out of your own ideas and substitute in what they think you&#039 ; re going to say in exchange for what you&#039 ; re actually going to say. There are certain words. I mean, I want to say that there are triggers, but of course, the word &quot ; trigger&quot ; is another one now. Because as soon as you hear that word, you know, you think, you know, you know- how it&#039 ; s going to go and what people are going to say and what this side thinks and what that side thinks. And I just don&#039 ; t want people to get replaying their the stuff they saw on television when they read the article, I want them to have to think a new independent thought and think something a little differently than the way they&#039 ; ve been thinking about it all the previous times. |01:05:55| BRODY Great. It strikes me that a lot of the things that we&#039 ; ve talked about today and the stories that you&#039 ; ve shared are making me think about restaurant reviewing and writing- food writing in a different way, namely that, you know, it does sound like what sounds, it seems, I think, to, you know, in popular media and so on, like a, you know, a person is going out and eating and writing about it. You know, it goes a lot deeper in that you&#039 ; re faced with, you know, in some cases, you know, politics-adjacent choices, some maybe overtly political, you know, things that you&#039 ; re dealing with, like with the travel ban and the Bilad Bakery, you know, things like that. You know, issues of, you know, where you fit into the larger media ecosystem in terms of, you know, language and what you know what people might be coming with you- to your articles with. So do you have any reflections on sort of the deeper context of the work that you do? |01:07:05| REINHART I think that&#039 ; s a I think it&#039 ; s a gradual change, which has become a very rapid change very recently. I think that for a long time it was a really fun, easy job, you know, it really was that you just got to go out and eat and be catty about it. And I think a lot of people got to enjoy that. I think kind of during the late 90s bubble, especially people got to enjoying it rather too much, right? There are whole magazines that went belly up because the expenses they were handing out to people to travel and so forth were outrageous. And I know, not to officially name names on the record, but a predecessor at the Morning News got more money for expenses for going to restaurants and eating food and drinking wine than I got for my entire salary at that time. Like in the year, whichever year I might be talking about, you can do your own guessing. |01:08:04| BRODY Will do. |01:08:05| REINHART They were? They were. Yeah, they had more money to play with for expenses than I had money, period. And that was kind of, I mean, maybe at the time that was seen as a wise use of resources. But I think now it&#039 ; s understood that that was a waste and frivolity. And now, especially so I started officially taking the title of restaurant critic, our food critic in May 2016, which means that I had absolutely no time to have fun before things really got real. Right, right? Especially as somebody who is, you know, the child of a Muslim immigrant to the United States. Already at that time, we knew there was going to be serious trouble. So already at the time, that was at the forefront of my thinking and I knew that, you know, all sorts of real life things are going to intrude on our lovely little job of going out to eat and talking about it. |01:09:07| BRODY Right. Dallas, is as you&#039 ; ve alluded to already, sort of famous for these, like high end upscale places and has historically been, you know, home to many of those. And yet also, today&#039 ; s landscape, as we&#039 ; ve talked about, has, you know, a lot of family run businesses, family run restaurants and, you know, even now food trucks and things like that. What is what are your thoughts about that? Is there a tension between those two ends of the spectrum when we&#039 ; re thinking about food in Dallas? |01:09:46| REINHART Yeah, I think that&#039 ; s part of why our reputation has been so strange nationally is because, you know, most people, most tourists, most media members are looking for something a little bit in the middle of that. Generally. Obviously, food trucks are having and have been having their moment for a long time, but that&#039 ; s generally the case. I think I&#039 ; m going to willfully ignore your questions for a second and say like in the in the context of Asian food, particularly, our high end has had a very strange feature globally since the 90s. It&#039 ; s become very popular to for white chefs, right French, especially to use some Asian flavors in their food, right, Jean-Georges and people like that are very big on, you know, &quot ; Well, we&#039 ; re going to serve something with a butter sauce, but now the butter is going to have lemongrass too.&quot ; That&#039 ; s actually that&#039 ; s a dish I had a couple of weeks ago somewhere, but anyway. Dallas has a kind of odd twist to that, which is, well, at least one of them is the combination sushi-steak house? Abacus is a good example. Abacus opened in the 1990s, I think, with Kent Rathbun as the chef in Uptown, and the whole idea was that he would cook great steaks like everybody in Dallas is expected to, and there&#039 ; d be a full sushi bar with a sushi chef making rolls, specialty rolls. And that kind of became like an accepted format of restaurant here in Dallas to have Asian food kind of imported wholesale into Dallas high end cooking. There&#039 ; s now a place downtown. I don&#039 ; t think I remember the name of it. It&#039 ; s in the Exchange Hall. I think that&#039 ; s the name of it. It&#039 ; s actually two restaurants. It actually is... You sit in a communal area like at a mall food court, but there are two fancy restaurants on either side of it, and one of them is a sushi bar owned by a white man, and the other one is a steakhouse. And so we&#039 ; re still kind of doing that now. That. We... I don&#039 ; t even know how you describe it, like it&#039 ; s almost like a decoration. |01:12:07| BRODY Yeah, is that a... I don&#039 ; t know? Is that a thing that happens in other cities too? Or is that a particular Dallas invention? The sushi-steakhouse? |01:12:15| REINHART I think there must be other ones? I&#039 ; m sure that there are some in New York. I don&#039 ; t know if it&#039 ; s just that, like the media doesn&#039 ; t really talk about them because they&#039 ; re seen as very 90s and very over the hill. Right? So maybe I just don&#039 ; t know about them, but I don&#039 ; t know about them. I feel like I should google it now. |01:12:35| BRODY Well, so many food trends and restaurant trends seem to have started in Dallas and been sort of exported to other parts of the country. I just wondered if that was one that fell into that category. |01:12:46| REINHART Maybe. |01:12:46| BRODY To look into that? Well, that&#039 ; s a perfect segue, then, to talk about Asian restaurants in Dallas and sort the time that you&#039 ; ve been here specifically, what are the changes you&#039 ; ve noticed or trends or patterns in the Asian restaurant landscape? |01:13:07| REINHART Yeah, OK. I think for one thing, we have had for decades an amazing Japanese food scene, right? Partly because of one man, Teiichi Sakurai, who came over here and started opening new restaurants and basically populating them with his old friends and his old coworkers. And I think a couple of high school classmates. And they have gone on to build kind of a dynasty. He only owns two of them now, but the other ones are still going and they have different ownership and they&#039 ; re mostly his friends. And then we have Mr. Sushi is really old, I think. But anyway, the idea is, I think, partly because of the airport. We&#039 ; ve had so much better access than a lot of other inland and middle America cities to that really fresh seafood and to employers like Texas Instruments who are hiring a lot of people from those cultures. So we&#039 ; re almost to the level of like Seattle in that regard. I know when I talked to people in the Korean community, they told me that the airport was a big reason that the Korean community is so big here because...And that&#039 ; s why the other big Korean community between L.A. and New York is Atlanta, because Hartsfield is another gigantic airport, right? So they were very easily able to establish business and supply chains and business and community networks basically. |01:14:46| BRODY Really interesting. |01:14:47| REINHART They could easily get back home. I think that the arrival of...I think a lot of cultures arrive first in reality, and then they start to translate into the food scene a little later, right? And then sometimes it&#039 ; s the reverse, I think. I think a lot of I think sometimes that&#039 ; s a bad idea. I&#039 ; m making things up. OK, so I&#039 ; ll go back and I&#039 ; ll say, you know, you know, for example, the Nepalese community came to Irving in the 1990s at the beginning, and then they&#039 ; ve been coming ever since. I think there was some rule. In 1995, Congress passed some immigration reform, which lifted the quota on Nepal, particularly or maybe it was all the countries that they&#039 ; d forgotten to do in the previous bill or something like that. And that was when they started coming to Dallas Fort Worth, and they&#039 ; ve been coming in a steady stream ever since. And it started with one restaurant, which I think was Everest in Irving. And now we&#039 ; re up to past the dozen mark. There&#039 ; s a Nepalese sports bar with wings and TV, and they play cricket games on the television. There is, there are multiple Momo places in gas stations, and those are all relatively recent developments. I worked in Irving from 2012 through 2019 and the first few years, that wasn&#039 ; t really an option to go get lunch. It wasn&#039 ; t a thing that, you know, it wasn&#039 ; t something that we had on our radar. And then Cafemandu and Momo To Go and whichever one the other one was- shoot- Momo Express? Can&#039 ; t remember. I think it&#039 ; s on the Chevron station at Northgate and Beltline, though. I know which gas station it is, I just don&#039 ; t know the name of it. And oh, and there was another one on MacArthur that closed recently, but they all started opening up and to in like 2016, 2017. And that became one of the coolest and most fun kind of recent trends. Of course, Lao food has been around for a long time at places like Nalinh Market, Overseas Market, a lot of kind of traditional old grocery stores. But Donny at Khao Noodle Shop has taken it to a whole new place, right, and that&#039 ; s gotten national reputation. There have been magazines, articles about him and about them, and he&#039 ; s kind of...You wouldn&#039 ; t say modern, but he cares about plating and he cares about making things from scratch. He makes the saku dumplings, the tapioca dumplings from scratch by cooking the tapioca and breaking it down, and it&#039 ; s really intense. If you get to, just ask him how to make that as one of your questions. |01:17:53| BRODY I hope so. |01:17:57| REINHART And so that&#039 ; s become kind of to bottom dining scene out of its own, almost, you could say, like they&#039 ; ve really very quickly gone from being little mom and pops to covering every part of the every sector of the market. You know, he recently was trying to open a very high end fancy tasting restaurant and didn&#039 ; t get off the ground, but it was a possibility and it still is a possibility in the future, for sure. So that&#039 ; s another good sign. I think there was something else I was going to say, Oh, I just wanted to talk about millennials. Good old millennials gotta love us because in the last few years, as I think as parents have handed off restaurants to children, especially, you&#039 ; ve seen rebrands and redesigns and rethinking of how things are going. And there&#039 ; s a lot of really cool stuff coming out of that. A really recent example is that there was a very traditional old school Indian place in Plano called Minerva. I don&#039 ; t know if you know you&#039 ; ve heard of. |01:19:06| BRODY Yes. |01:19:07| REINHART Yeah. When did you go? Have you been recently? |01:19:11| BRODY No. |01:19:12| REINHART Well, they passed it to their children, I think. And the children renamed it to &quot ; Minerva Indian Bistro.&quot ; So already &quot ; bistro&quot ; is kind of...that&#039 ; s not...It&#039 ; s a not traditional Indian word. And they&#039 ; ve they started making like introducing their own little inventions around, like there&#039 ; s a there&#039 ; s a menu of mocktails, nonalcoholic cocktails, and there&#039 ; s a dessert menu of inventive little things that are kind of spins on tradition they take ras malai, is that the name of it? |01:19:49| BRODY Yes. |01:19:50| REINHART Yeah. So they&#039 ; re taking that and they&#039 ; re turning into a Tres Leches cake. |01:19:53| BRODY Oh, interesting. |01:19:54| REINHART Yeah. And then they put like rose water frosting on top and little cute little swirls. And then they plate it in a little tiny bowl so that the milk, the coconut milk can kind of spill out the bottom. |01:20:05| BRODY That&#039 ; s a really good example of a bridge, right? Between two different cultures that are both immigrant cultures. |01:20:12| REINHART And I think that&#039 ; s happening a lot. The guys who run L.A. Burger are in there. Oh gosh. And they are no longer in their 20s, but recently were in their 20s. And they found the restaurant when they were like 24 and 22. They&#039 ; re brothers. And yeah, they&#039 ; re putting kimchi on cheeseburgers and putting kimchi on hot dogs and all sorts of... |01:20:33| BRODY of like sauerkraut. |01:20:34| REINHART Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it&#039 ; s delicious. I&#039 ; m sure there are more examples. Well, Halal Mother, Mother Truckers, the food truck? That&#039 ; s very hard to say. Halal Mother Truckers is a youngish guy who does basically curry tacos, and he has a, I want to say it was like a butter chicken and something paneer taco. And those are his staple offerings. And he goes around, yeah. And I mean, they&#039 ; re legitimately good and he uses. He uses Mexican tortillas, he doesn&#039 ; t use any kind of Asian flatbread, and then he serves the traditional foods in the tortillas. |01:21:17| BRODY It&#039 ; s reminded me of our previous conversation where we were talking about the...those words &quot ; authenticity&quot ; and &quot ; appropriation&quot ; and so on. This seems like a, you know, I mean, I guess the word that comes to mind is fusion, but that word too might mean something different. |01:21:38| REINHART Yeah, fusion has long been kind of a bad word, and it&#039 ; s kind of meant different things over the years, I think. I think what we&#039 ; re seeing now is fusion as well. Fusion has always happened, right? Fusion has always happened in every culture. I think the banh mi as a glorious example of culinary fusion, right? But I think what we&#039 ; re seeing now is that the people from the non-dominant culture are getting to do the fusing. For a long time, it was, you know, it was the white guys who got to have the steak houses with sushi in them, right? Or. He&#039 ; s actually since opened a fusion place, that gentleman, Kent Rathbun, which serves tandoori chicken and sushi and Pad Thai and Korean fried chicken and Chinese dumplings. |01:22:35| BRODY That&#039 ; s an interesting combo. |01:22:37| REINHART Yeah. But so now what we&#039 ; re seeing is that the people who come from those cultures are turning the tables, right? We&#039 ; re seeing, you know, Mexican chefs get to absorb French technique into their food rather than the other way around or, you know, a Afifa Nayeb, who&#039 ; s from Afghanistan. She&#039 ; s got that restaurant in Bishop Arts where she uses French, French ingredients and copious amounts of butter to make Indian food. I&#039 ; m not I haven&#039 ; t actually been to that. I&#039 ; m a little worried about the concept. It sounds very it&#039 ; s....I don&#039 ; t really understand it yet, but it&#039 ; s an example. |01:23:19| BRODY Right? Right. Earlier, you talked about how the some of the, in that sort of changing of the guard from the parents to the younger generation, they had incorporated a lot of different design and style elements. Would you like to speak to that a little bit? |01:23:36| REINHART Yeah. I mean, I think, you know. I think there&#039 ; s a kind of a stereotype of &quot ; mom and pop&quot ; places as having traditional music playing and having kind of a living room type feel and really soft cushy chairs or whatever or buffets, whatever you might wish to imagine, I think. You know, we&#039 ; ve seen the younger generation go towards flashy signage and nice logos and hard tile floors and walls and kind of even some of the like &quot ; Chip and Joanna aesthetic&quot ; with the wood and shiplap and so forth. And I think, I think What The Biryani in Irving...Yes, that&#039 ; s the actual name of it. And they have a thing on the wall that says &quot ; WTF&quot ; and then &quot ; OOD&quot ; at the end. But I think they have a very like kind of &quot ; Chip and Joanna aesthetic&quot ; going. They have lots of white painted wood and they have lots of like little fake plants everywhere. And it looks very much like a like an American hipster coffee shop type of feel. And they put their menu on those little sign boards where you push the letters down the slats, except that it&#039 ; s all biryani. |01:24:50| BRODY Yeah, yeah, that&#039 ; s really interesting. I mean, a lot of people. I&#039 ; m going through all these old restaurant reviews and so on and certainly in the literature about quote unquote ethnic restaurants, there&#039 ; s a lot of derogatory talk about smells about, you know, looks, about, you know, I guess, aesthetics, about cleanliness. Do you think some of this change in aesthetic or move toward design is a nod toward some of those stereotypes? |01:25:24| REINHART That could be. I know there are lots of restaurant owners who are very concerned or borderline obsessed with proving cleanliness, right? I actually interviewed one from a Bosnian restaurant a couple of months ago who at the end of the interview, he was like, &quot ; Look, I show you the kitchen.&quot ; And he took me to the walk-in and he&#039 ; s like, &quot ; Look, everything is dated and covered with Saran Wrap.&quot ; And I was like, &quot ; I&#039 ; m not the health inspector. I&#039 ; m not looking for the dates on all of your product.&quot ; I think that, I think also, you know...You know, that is still actually a bit of a concern at times. The Dallas Morning News ran a review of Desi District, which is a restaurant that I love in Irving and also kind of represents kind of the younger generation of thinking and creativity. They have gulab jamun cupcakes. Oh, they&#039 ; re so rich and so good. And, and the Morning News ran a review and I think 2017 or 18, and it includes a sidebar that was like, &quot ; Hey, their health inspection. Score is not good, it&#039 ; s a C.&quot ; And the author looked it up. The author was a white woman, and she said, &quot ; Well, it looks like all the worst health inspection scores in Irving are Indian restaurants. So I called the head of the Irving Health Department and I said, Hey, is there anything about Indian restaurants that would make them fail?&quot ; And I thought, &quot ; Wow, you&#039 ; re you didn&#039 ; t acknowledge, you know...That there might be anybody out there who&#039 ; s going to read that and come away with a prejudiced response to that.&quot ; There was no attempt to say like, look, this is not...racially, anything. There was no attempt to address that, that was even a possibility. And I think it was, you know, kind of hopelessly naive at best. I personally wouldn&#039 ; t have even touched it. I don&#039 ; t know why she was looking up what all the lowest scoring restaurants were. |01:27:25| BRODY Right, and it gets back to the sort of philosophy of the food writing in general, and responsibility. |01:27:31| REINHART And what&#039 ; s in your scope? Yeah. She had a particular fixation with health inspection scores, which I support, but it just it&#039 ; s just an example of how food critics can have different things that they really care about, right? And I can&#039 ; t fault anybody for, you know, having health and safety, be one of them. But yeah, so it is an ongoing thing, I guess. Still? You know, I don&#039 ; t really think about it, but I have to keep in mind that others do. And that might be part of it. I think also, you know, young people. They have grown up with a certain expectation of restaurants, and they might want to get away from that or they&#039 ; re on Instagram all the time or, you know, there you&#039 ; ll talk to people who will say, &quot ; Well, my parents didn&#039 ; t want me to open a restaurant because, you know, it&#039 ; s what they did to earn a living and it was backbreaking work and it&#039 ; s, you know, kind of lower class labor. And they were hoping I was going to become something else.&quot ; And then as a result of that, they have to, you know, they feel like they should show like the restaurant shows that I&#039 ; m doing something really cool and fun, right? Right. And something successful, right? |01:28:50| BRODY Finally, Dallas is not just downtown, as you mentioned earlier, anymore. And the spread into all these suburbs and you mentioned going- trying to cycle through different parts of the Metroplex. Specifically dealing with thinking about the Asian population, where do you see the most growth or the most exciting changes in terms of that? |01:29:16| REINHART Oh, that&#039 ; s a great question. I think it&#039 ; s important to say first to start on downbeat by saying that, you know, the reason that we have to talk about this is because Dallas is pretty significantly segregated, right? At least as a matter of fact, not a matter of law, right? But for example, a lot of the areas central close to downtown have not really been opened in recent years to restaurant owners of immigrant or black culture. There are stories from chef Troy Gardner, who tried to open a restaurant in Uptown and continually was rebuffed and finally got to open a restaurant in West Dallas because they told him like, &quot ; Oh, that neighborhood&#039 ; s fine for you, right?&quot ; Horrible. And I think that in recent years, like when something like a NGON opens on Greenville, N-G-O-N, the Vietnamese place. That is almost like a huge victory to me, the fact that one of the prime real estate spots on Greenville is now given over to a really traditional, really fantastic Vietnamese restaurant that&#039 ; s run by all Vietnamese women is just fabulous. We went on Sunday. We say it&#039 ; s one of my favorite places and it&#039 ; s ah, we went on Saturday- anyway. You know, it&#039 ; s a really exciting sign that maybe something is finally changing down there and in the city center in general. But a lot of the most exciting stuff is still happening out in the suburbs. I think the two Koreatowns are kind of on different tracks right now. The one in Carrollton almost all has the same landlord. That whole center at like Old Denton Road and the Tollway, I think is almost entirely owned by one guy. And people are starting to fight with that guy and they&#039 ; re starting to slowly move northwards up Old Denton Road towards whatever the next tollway is. Is that 121? |01:31:24| BRODY I think so. |01:31:24| REINHART Yeah, that goes to Frisco. Sam Rayburn Tollway. So you&#039 ; re starting to see things move up there. And the original Koreatown is reviving itself and coming back in a really strong way. I think for a long time, it had a poor reputation and there was crime, and there remain a lot of massage parlors and things like that. And that hotel town, Han Gil Hotel Town, was torn down a couple of years ago. That was a really horrible, traumatizing place that was basically, you know, oh, I don&#039 ; t know if you know, news reports about this, but it was a Korean run hotel where each room was basically a different drug den more or less. And the owners at the front desk, they photocopied everybody&#039 ; s driver&#039 ; s licenses more or less so that like they, you know, they knew who you were in case something happened from a liability standpoint. And you know, you&#039 ; d come in and you&#039 ; d say, like, I&#039 ; m visiting and my friend in room 314 or whatever. Oh yeah. And I mean, they took cash payments for rooms by the, you know, short timeframes, and it was just so that&#039 ; s been razed. And I think a lot of the old reputation that neighborhood had is not as warranted now. There are new places going in there. There&#039 ; s a very fancy new barbecue place that opened down the street from Koryo, which is from talent who flew in from South Korea to start it, a chef who came from Seoul. I think to start it. |01:33:06| BRODY Specifically to Dallas, on purpose? |01:33:09| REINHART Specifically Dallas on purpose. I believe the owner of that, it&#039 ; s Nuri Grill, N-U-R-I, and the owner of that is the former CEO of Smoothie King, the chain, and he is a Korean-American man and yeah, he brought the chef. And it&#039 ; s, they&#039 ; re calling the chef &quot ; a Michelin recognized chef&quot ; which I think means they got Honorable Mention in the Michelin guide at some point. But it&#039 ; s still, you know, it&#039 ; s still impressive, I suppose. And one of the strip malls there that&#039 ; s more older and more traditional is now the land is owned by H Mart. So we think H Mart is probably planning to plant a location there sometime in the next few years. So a lot of stuff is happening there. Unfortunately for me, living in the south of Dallas, a whole lot of fun stuff keeps happening way up north by Frisco, Prosper. I keep looking and it&#039 ; s almost every month there&#039 ; s something especially Chinese that&#039 ; s opening up there. Highland Noodles. 888 Cookhouse, Uncle Zhou. There&#039 ; s all sorts of stuff I want to get to up there. Like I almost want to go get a hotel for the weekend. Just have Chinese food. |01:34:24| BRODY A staycation. |01:34:24| REINHART Yeah, yeah. And then actually up there also the old J.C. Penney headquarters, which is on like the Plano-Frisco border. Part of that is going to turn into an upscale Japanese hotel for like people visiting Toyota. |01:34:41| BRODY Oh, OK. |01:34:42| REINHART And that&#039 ; s going to have the press release was very cryptic and said it was going to have &quot ; an already famous sushi restaurant.&quot ; |01:34:51| BRODY Interesting. |01:34:51| REINHART Yeah. |01:34:52| BRODY Interesting. Something to look forward to. |01:34:53| REINHART We don&#039 ; t know what that is going to be, but we know it&#039 ; s going be something. |01:34:55| BRODY So there is a lot of growth up there. Yeah, in the North. Well, is there anything that I haven&#039 ; t asked you that I should have or anything that you&#039 ; d like to add? |01:35:05| REINHART Goodness. We&#039 ; ve covered a lot of ground. You know, I feel like we might think of something like a week or two. |01:35:18| BRODY Well, we can we can talk again when we think of something, but thank you so much. I really appreciate all of your time and your insights. It&#039 ; s been really, really interesting. |01:35:26| REINHART And yeah, thank you. Yeah. Well, OK, I look forward to seeing everything else. |01:35:32| BRODY Thank you. All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. audio Interviews may be reproduced with permission from the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. 0




“Interview with Brian Reinhart, December 20, 2021,” Digging In Dallas, accessed July 12, 2024,