A brief discussion with Ursula, from Asia Pop.
Hi Ursula, how are you today? I would say better than the average! I’m currently out in the countryside at my Mum’s farm, making the most of the fresh air and quiet. Oh, and developing our upcoming Autumn Menu! She grows tonnes of fruit and vegetables too, so I’m making the most of that.
Where’s your hometown? Brighton is my hometown. I moved around a fair bit growing up, but because I was there longest and have good memories of it, I call it my hometown.
What are the origins of Asia Pop? ASIA POP! started between me and two other friends with different Asian backgrounds and a mutual love for Asian food, Yoko and Sarah. Our mission was to always bring authentic dishes from the East to the UK, and taking our main inspiration from the fascinating culture of Asian street food and food culture to create a unique culinary experience. It’s just me driving this forward now, as the other two live in London, and I’m in Bristol! Unfortunately it was hard to keep it running together due to other commitments.
What’s your all-time favourite Asia Pop dish? That’s a tricky one. My all-time favourite Asia Pop dish is probably our dumplings, but the Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza) is a big favourite amongst our customers. All the dumplings are family recipes, handmade, and special to eat because they take loads of time and love to prepare.
Where do you see Asia Pop in 5 years? I see it popping up in another unique space or venue. The idea behind Asia Pop! is to be spontaneous, so you don’t know where we’ll be next. However, I do have an exciting collaboration idea in the bag, which we’re hoping to start this autumn or winter.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Bristol at the moment? This is a tricky one as there are a handful of great independent eateries in Bristol. I always enjoy my experience and food when I go to Bravas, a tapas restaurant started by a couple, initially as a supper club in their front room. I’ve chosen them because you can’t beat the atmosphere and the food is so delicious – you can clearly see the love and passion which has gone into it from the food, to the venue to the service. Otherwise, the collective I’m a part of, ‘Bristol Eats’ (British street-food awards winners for best UK collective), have a great range of imaginative street-food vendors. I have tried the food by most of them and booked many of them for my inaugural street-food event ‘Eat.Drink.Dance’, but you can find them at Temple Quay twice a month, and there is discussion about a regular Bristol Eats street-food night.
Favourite place to go out for drinks in Bristol? I would have to stick to a nearby local pub, so I’d go for either The Bell or The Hillgrove!
The Autumn Menu is coming up. What does it involve? DUMPLINGS!
How do you decide what to include? I try to keep the menu with a good balance between fun, healthy and delicious! I don’t tend to eat meat; I’m mainly vegetarian with some fish and dairy, so I always design the menu around this. I would say our menu is usually 90% vegetarian, but this doesn’t put the meat-eaters off. I try and tempt people to eat delicious food without meat being the centre stage. I do this by being imaginative with the menu. Creating vibrant and exciting dishes is key, but the exotic aspect helps! I am also conscious of where I source things, and we try and be as ethical and responsible as possible from the produce to the packaging!
What’s the highlight of the new menu? I have spent the last two weeks experimenting with researching different dumpling dishes, and also hi-jacking my mum’s country-esque kitchen as a testing ground. I like to get her opinion, as many of the ingredients and recipes are influenced by family recipes. My mum’s one of the main influences of my menu because she’s the reason I’m half Asian!
As a result, I recently came up with the ‘ASIA POP! Special Dumplings’ which is my highlight of the menu. It has a unique filling of 5 things for a real texture and crunch: spiced tofu, cashews and Chinese vegetables with a special homemade marinade which is a secret recipe! I was also pretty pleased with how the Spiralized Salads went down on the last menu, so I’ve decided to keep the Spiralized Sesame Carrot Salad (in the shape of noodles) on this menu too.
When and where can we get our hands on it? We’re opening with our new menu this Wednesday (3rd Sept) from 9am – 3pm at The Crofters Rights!