Southtown’s favorite pop-up finally found a permanent location inside the former China Latina—and it was about time.
Empty Stomach Restaurant Group’s crazy good pan-Asian eatery opened its doors this April and the crowds have yet to die down, for good reason. The menu, designed in part by co-owner Chad Carey and partner-chef Quealy Watson is bigger, better and more adventurous than ever.
Before you even think about ordering a bowl of ramen, you have to take in the scenery. Created in part by an army of artists including, but not limited to, Gregorio Mannino (interior designer), Jamie Stolarski (graphic designer), Kelly Edwards (full-time tattoo artist) and Rudy Herrera (baker and artist), Hot Joy is dinner and a show. Street art meets individualized booths and Asian kitsch that screams “Caucasian Asian,” in a good way.
Once you’ve feasted your eyes, you can satisfy your appetite with small plates (yes, the twice fried chicken wings are back), large plates (with a nod to Carey via the General Chad’s Chicken) and oodles of noodles in an ever-expanding menu that also includes several iterations of fried rice and dreamy desserts created by pastry chef Kat Sees (read more about Sees on page 18). Wash it all down with a cocktail created by bar manager Karah Carmack and consultant Jeret Peña such as the boozy Mak Mak with Jamaican rum, pineapple shrub, grapefruit soda and Thai chiles.
And if you can’t get enough Hot Joy, the joint stays open late serving up sinful snacks like pork & shrimp meatball subs, fish stick tacos and the occasional cheeseburger dumpling.
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