Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month Through Culinary Success and Passion for Food

“My food is my art. I always do the best I can."

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and over the last few weeks, communities have celebrated the cultures that have transformed neighborhoods – and tastebuds – across North Texas.

In Garland, a unique kitchen concept is giving several Asian-owned businesses a chance to succeed.

When you walk down the halls of Revolving Kitchen, there are stories of passion and dedication.

"Sushi is just like art,” said David Ho, owner of Oishi Sushi and Poke Bowl.

He is a master sushi chef who has been perfecting his craft over the last 25 years. Ho started learning at just 11 years old to support his family after they emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland. From there, he worked for restaurants and kitchens all over the country.

"A lot of people say that it looks really easy but sushi is a skill,” he said.

Ho still keeps his very first sushi knife from his early days, tucked away in his shop at the end of the hall. He said a good, sharp sushi knife is key to making great sushi by keeping the juices within the fresh fish.

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“My food is my art. I always do the best I can."

David Ho, owner of Oishi Sushi and Poke Bowl

In just the last year, he's watched his new business grow as one of several thriving businesses in Revolving Kitchen of Garland.

Founder Tyler Shin knows how hard it can be to get started.

"I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. I grew up in the business in the sense that I watched my mom start and run restaurants in Korea,” he shared with NBC 5. "Growing up, I watched my mom struggle a lot with opening and running a restaurant business."

For that reason, he chose not to follow her footsteps into the restaurant industry. His family moved to California when he was 12 and he eventually pursued a career in corporate finance after college. After a decade in the field, he settled in Dallas and found business connections with mom-and-pop shops in the area.

Family photo
Shin with his mother

“Through that I realize there is a big demand for commercial kitchen space – people who do catering and meal prep, people who want to sell desserts to grocery stores and restaurants,” he said.

He launched Revolving Kitchen in the fall of 2019 in Garland with ‘cloud kitchens’— also referred to as a ‘ghost kitchen’ or ‘virtual kitchen.’ The space provides food businesses with the commercial facilities and services needed to prepare food for delivery and takeout.

“Rather than build a kitchen or two, I decided to build an apartment or hotel of kitchens and rent it out to all kinds of different operators within the food community,” said Shin.

Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar locations– which can be pricey and less attainable for some small businesses –cloud kitchens allow food businesses to create and deliver food products without the high cost and stress.

"What would end up happening is lot of these entrepreneurs have to wear multiple hats. Sometimes they have to be a plumber. Sometimes they have to be a construction guy or have to do janitor work,” Shin said. “So rather than have chefs distracted and not focused on the business, you provide all the support so they can just solely and fully focus on the business concepts and recipes.”

The cloud kitchens opened just before the pandemic. But with the lockdown came a great need for take-out, a need many of the small businesses were able to expand upon at the space.

Now, Shin is even more proud to help entrepreneurs like his own mom – including several Asian-owned businesses – find a path to prosperity in this often unpredictable economy.

"As my family did, a lot of first-generation immigrant families come here, they have more challenges. They have language and cultural barriers,” he said. “Whether you’re from Asia, the Middle East, or South America, if your language is not English or if you have not lived here long enough, that’s an additional challenge.”

The space currently rents out 20 kitchen spaces permanently, with five kitchens being used at an hourly rate for caterers, bakers and other entrepreneurs who don’t need it full-time.

"One of our tenants produces sushi for Costco stores across DFW," said Shin. “So whether you’re big or small, it doesn’t matter what you’re cooking -- at the end of the day, if you’re in the food business, you have to have a commercial kitchen space."

Many are eager to share their culture and food with the community, like Nidhi Mittal of Purezza.

She and the owner Lokesh Ashu grind lentils with stone, the traditional way from back home in India. They fill 1,000 boxes per week for delivery to South Asian grocery stores across Texas.

The cloud kitchen space has helped her realize her dream to expand.

"From the day we started until now, it has been a long journey. But now we really feel we are in fact, proud of ourselves,” Mittal said. “It feels great that you’ve brought a product from your home country here and you are able to make it.”

Rocky Hamsana’s family is from Laos, but he has a deep love for Korean food. At The Bop Bop, he whips up Korean BBQ bowls of sweet potato noodles, meat, rice and veggies for takeout or through his food truck. Many are first-timers eating Korean food.

The Bop Bop

“I get a lot of those customers that say they haven’t tried it and they end up coming back to order more to take home," he said.

Hamsana added the opportunities for businesses in North Texas seem endless.

"It's a good feeling because from where I came from none of this was never there. I had to do everything myself and save for it, and just do it,” Hamsana said.

With demand for these flavors growing and more people moving to North Texas, Revolving Kitchen is now planning to expand into an even larger, 35,000-square-foot space in the Fairview-Allen area. Collin County has one of the fastest-growing Asian American populations in Texas.

The new Revolving Kitchen location at Fairview Town Center will include a food hall with a marketplace and 32 more kitchen spaces, for even more small businesses to thrive.

Revolving Kitchen
A rendering of the interior of the new Revolving Kitchen Fairview location.

"The goal is not just, ‘OK, here's a kitchen, go figure it out.’ The goal is, here's a kitchen – plus we have all of these different amenities and resources that can help you,” Shin said.

Shin is currently raising capital for additional expansion through Republic, a platform that allows retail and accredited investors to put funds towards startups, real estate and more. His goal is to expand to four or five locations and bring some of the businesses from the original Garland location with him.

“I see a lot of growth here just with everybody moving here," said Hamsana. “I hope that we can be in every single location he plans to open."

Construction on the new location in Fairview begins next week, with plans of opening by the end of the year.

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