Dining With Denise Neil

If you like Asian food, you can’t miss this free annual Wichita event, happening Saturday

Foodies in the know know that the Wichita Asian Festival is one of Wichita’s can’t-miss dining events each year.

The festival, which returns to Century II from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday for its 39th annual installment, is a colorful, interesting display of Asian culture, featuring dancing, singing and even a Miss Wichita Asian pageant.

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But the big attraction is the food. The event fills Century II with dozens of food booths staffed by local restaurateurs as well as cultural clubs and home cooks. Attendees roam from booth to booth, purchasing egg rolls, banh mi sandwiches, noodles, dumplings, fried rice, chicken satay, boba tea and more. This year’s festival will feature 43 booths selling dishes native to China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

It’s free to attend the festival, which is put on by the Wichita Asian Association, though the group accepts donations at the door. People must bring cash to buy the food, and the festival has tables set up so diners can sit down and enjoy.

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Last year, the festival drew 16,000 people, said Ginnie Wong-Newman, the president of the Wichita Asian Association.

“You get to taste so many different kind of foods,” she said. “Wichita has a lot of Asian restaurants now, but here, you can actually taste all these foods at the same place at the same time. It’s all right there.”

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.
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