One of San Antonio's most exciting culinary projects is finding a permanent home at Pearl. Best Quality Daughter, the famed pop-up from a powerhouse hospitality team, is preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar in November.
Though the restaurant will be led by Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin and Quealy Watson, who also own nearby Tenko Ramen, Best Quality Daughter was originally conceived by Dobbertin, chef Anne Ng, and ceramic artist Jennifer Ling Datchuk as a pop-up concept. The group bonded over their shared cultural history as Asian women living in Texas, and the name — a nod to the beloved novel and subsequent film Joy Luck Club — is an extension of that shared history, notes a release.
“Growing up as a third culture kid, you're always in this search for where you belong. Lucky enough to grow up in a bicultural city like San Antonio, I didn't experience being the other until I left for college,” said Dobbertin in a release.
“In a quest to claim my identity, I moved to Asia, and sometime between years abroad and now, I discovered that what connects most of us is sharing food and experiences. I am grateful to have an outlet to do that through Best Quality Daughter.”
Over the past three years, the pop-up has increased both the notoriety and availability of Asian-American cuisine in the Alamo City, all the while becoming one of San Antonio's most exciting culinary events. Now it has the chance to further its reputation in the form of a new 2,556-square-foot space in the famed Pearl mixed-use development.
Leading the design of the new eatery is San Antonio's own Lake Flato Architects. The firm is tasked with transforming the 1904 historic home — once the site of Pearl Brewery's chief cooper, and more recently the site of the now-shuttered The Granary — into a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor spaces, and the capacity to handle dine-in, to-go, and delivery in these ever-changing times.
In the kitchen, the menu is designed as "New Asian-American," a reflection, the restaurant says, of both culinary innovation and tradition (with a few San Antonio twists). Snacks like Thai curry babaganoush and crispy fried pig ears will be offered alongside "rolled” items like chorizo, egg, and cheese potstickers. Noodle and rice dishes will of course be a mainstay, with items like mochi gnocchi with sauce Mornay and Chinese sausage, and phat kaphrao pork-fried rice. Diners can also order family-style shareable mains, such as salt and pepper king crab or short ribs.
The bar program, notes the release, is overseen by local beverage consultant Elisabeth Forsythe, and will include "handcrafted cocktails, boozy boba, and a curated selection of wine and beer."
To bring the exciting concept to life, Datchuk was commissioned to create a host stand that will be more than just a greeting spot for guests. "Made from mirrored plexiglass and colored porcelain prize ribbons, the adorned host stand celebrates all girls as beautiful and winners in every shade," the restaurant says. Datchuk will also serves as the restaurant's art curator.
“Pearl is honored and thrilled to welcome Best Quality Daughter,” said Pearl's chief marketing officer, Elizabeth Fauerso. “Chefs Jenn and Quealy have been wonderful partners with Tenko and we knew their inventiveness, commitment to excellence, and experience would add depth and visibility to San Antonio’s culinary landscape.”
Of course, when Best Quality Daughter opens this fall at 602 Avenue A, the city is predicted to still be combating the novel coronavirus, and so the restaurant says it will be taking the necessary safety precautions. Those precautions include additional sanitization procedures; frequent hand washing; mandatory masks for guests, associates, and operators; socially distanced tables; temperature checks of employees and guests; regular COVID-19 testing of employees; upgraded HVAC filtration system; and hand sanitizer stations throughout the space.