Torrey Lai (left) of Crawfish King and Pho Bac's Yenvy Pham are throwing a Viet-Cajun popup this weekend.

Image: Truong Win

Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's Capitol Hill Block Party coming up, but can we talk about the counter-programming going down on Saturday, July 20? All day, from noon until midnight, Pho Bac Súp Shop will turn its restaurant and parking lot—yes, the red boat, too!—into a so-named Ragin' Viet-Cajun party.

The Little Saigon restaurant is joining food forces with chef Torrey Lai of Crawfish King to bring the neighborhood a day-long food festival that's fun, delicious, and somewhat of a cultural mashup. The "Cajun" aspect of this whole shindig, says Pho Bac Súp Shop co-owner Yenvy Pham, is an acknowledgment of Vietnamese refugees' and immigrants' journeys from southeast Asia to the southern United States, where two coastal communities, and their cuisines, collide. At this rager, then, dive into a Cajun-spiced seafood boil—there's that nod to the south—packed with crawfish, shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes; choose from Cajun butter-lemongrass sauce or Cajun molasses fish sauce, either of which hit those Asian flavor notes.

But it doesn't stop there, food-wise. There's also Cajun pho (shrimp and pork meatballs and crawfish; the veggie option has a Cajun broth, daikon, and onion-jalapeño-spiked tofu), lobster tail with herby, tamarind aioli, plus shrimp skewers, and crawfish or tofu tacos with rau ram (Vietnamese coriander slaw). On the drinks end, bar director Timmy Nguyen's dreamt up a lineup of special libations: Cajun fish sauce bloody marys, lemongrass coolers, basil frosés, or go with the classic Viet lager. Sip those in the street market–styled beer garden, or tropical lounge, or the red boat where karaoke will no doubt assault the ears—in a good way, probably.

So here's how it all works. You can buy pre-sale tickets now, which saves you a couple of bucks: $10 for one dish or $25 for three (worth $30) and you stake a claim on a dining session, which start at noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, or 8pm. Otherwise, the Ragin' Viet-Cajun (1240 S Jackson Street) admission is free and entrees are $12 each day of, and you eat when you can—expect lines and crowds and spice-stained fingers, most likely. Kids are welcome until 10, after that it's 21 and over only.

All proceeds will go to fund a new Friends of Little Saigon's Creative Space, which will support the Vietnamese community, cultural art programs, co-working, events, and—why not?—a Vietnamese coffee shop.  

Oh, look at that Cajun crawfish boil...look at it!

Image: Truong Win

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