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Last updateMon, 23 Mar 2020 12pm

Almost Open: AsiaSF/Palm Springs, Taking Reservations for Feb. 8 and Beyond

After visiting the original AsiaSF, I completely get it now.

When it was announced last year that AsiaSF—a 22-year-old San Francisco cabaret and dinner theater featuring transgender women as servers/performers—would be opening its second location in Palm Springs, I was a little confused. Even after PR extraordinaire David Perry introduced me to founders Larry Hashbarger and Skip Young on a trip they made out here, I didn’t fully understand was AsiaSF was all about.

So on a recent trip to San Francisco, I asked Perry if he could get me, my husband and two friends reservations to a Saturday-night AsiaSF show. He obliged (and got our meals and drinks comped, I should disclose)—and now, I understand: At AsiaSF, it’s all about the party … in a very good way.

After a brief wait in the downstairs lounge—where the music was thumping—our party was seated in the dining/cabaret area. Our fantastic server soon came and took our drink order; all the drinks are named after the server/performers, so, of course, I had to order the drink named after her.

Dinner at the San Francisco location is a three-course, prix-fixe deal, that for parties less than six costs $44 to $69, depending on the show day and time. You pick a starter, a main course and a dessert. (Parties of six or more get a family-style meal.) I ordered the seared ahi, the filet mignon and the lime tart, respectively.

After we ordered, the announcer asked the packed house who was celebrating a special occasion. There were a couple of parties celebrating anniversaries; more parties celebrating anniversaries; and a lot of parties celebrating bachelorette parties.

Then the music started; the crowd started cheering; and the first performer came out.

These are not your normal, run-of-the-mill lip-sync performers. These trans women are beautiful; their routines are choreographed by Ronnie Reddick—and they’re wearing gorgeous outfits designed by Julian Mendez Couture and Prime Kreations of Los Angeles.

The food came out after several songs, and it was quite good—rubber chicken, this ain’t—and though the portions weren’t exactly huge, the three courses filled me up.

As dessert arrived (along with another round of cocktails), a second series of performers rocked the bar top/stage. By the time the show was over—a little less than two hours from start to finish—everyone was cheering. It truly was a good time.

Given that Palm Springs has become a destination for people seeking a good time—bachelorette parties especially—I have a feeling AsiaSF/Palm Springs is going to do quite well.

“Palm Springs is rightly known as one of the world’s top destinations for celebrating fun, fashion, food and family,” said Hashbarger in a press release. “AsiaSF is all about all of that. We’re a perfect fit for the desert: an oasis that not only entertains but also educates and enlightens people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

The AsiaSF/Palm Springs experience will be just a bit different than the San Francisco experience. For one thing, the space here is many times larger than the original South of Market SF space—including a poolside, outdoor event space being branded as the Sonoran, and spacious bar/lounge/nightclub spaces.

The opening preview party for AsiaSF/Palm Springs took place on Jan. 24—and I heard nothing but rave reviews. After a series of invite-only test dinners for nonprofit partners like the Transgender Community Coalition, the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Dezart Performs and Sanctuary Palm Springs, it will open its doors to paying customers on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Asia SF/Palm Springs is located at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For reservations or more information, visit www.asiasf.com.


In Brief

Peabody’s, at 134 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has changed hands. Longtime owner Debby Alexander will be departing the karaoke and Bloody Mary haunt as of Feb. 1. Debby, you’ll be missed! Visit www.facebook.com/PeabodysPalmSprings for more. … Finally! The flagship location of Aspen Mills Bread Co., at 555 S. Sunrise Way, is again open after a lengthy fire-related closure. Get more details at www.facebook.com/AspenMillsBakery. … Now open at 49990 Jefferson St., Suite 110, in Indio: Tu Madres Cantina and Grill. It’s the sister restaurant to Cork and Fork and neighboring Heirloom Craft Kitchen; learn more at www.facebook.com/tumadrescantina. … Now open in the former Domo Sushi location at 13440 Palm Drive, in Desert Hot Springs: Sushi Bella. Call 760-219-1533 for more details. … Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar has a new location: 78480 Highway 111, in the old Las Casuelas Quinta space. Get the 411 at okurasushi.com. … A tip o’ the hat to Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar and Grill, at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, for efforts to be environmentally conscious. For starters, the restaurant has started using metal straws, and has switched from single-use half-and-half containers to metal pitchers. Learn more at www.facebook.com/bongojohnnys.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Coming Soon: AsiaSF Palm Springs, to the Former Hacienda Location

A San Francisco restaurant known for its “Cal-Asian” cuisine and dinner shows featuring transgender performers is opening a Palm Springs location in the space that was once the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

While no formal announcement has yet been made, the owners of AsiaSF let the figurative cat out of the bag by promoting auditions for the Palm Springs location in four cities (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Rancho Mirage—at the Desert Rose Playhouse—and San Francisco) on four consecutive nights in mid-July.

AsiaSF opened in 1988 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, founded by Larry Hashbarger and Skip Young.

“The world-famous restaurant, cabaret and nightclub is an iconic entertainment landmark that has inspired over 1 million people from all over the world with great food and entertainment,” says the AsiaSF website. “AsiaSF has been a visionary pioneer in supporting the transgender community through empowerment by creating a safe space and unique employment opportunities that showcase our beautiful transgender stars, the Ladies of AsiaSF, who not only entertain but also educate and enlighten people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

We hear that more details about the Palm Springs location will come out shortly. Whatever those details are … it’s fantastic news that the Hacienda space will soon be alive once again. The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club opened during the summer of 2014, but closed under a cloud of scandal in the fall of 2015, as the owner was indicted and charged in a bribery scheme involving then-Mayor Steve Pougnet. In 2016, Chris Pardo—the driving force behind the ARRIVE Palm Springs hotel—was linked to plans to build a hotel on the Hacienda property, but those plans fell through.

We’ll have more details as they develop. In the meantime, we recommend watching www.facebook.com/officialasiasf for updates.


New and Popping Up: Ni-Chome Ramen

If you’re a fan of ramen, you need to be keeping your eyes on the Wabi Sabi Japan Living Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WabiSabiJapanLiving. The owners have been taking over local restaurant spaces (like Peabody’s and Evzin Palm Springs) during times when they’re closed to offer a pop-up ramen restaurant that even has its own name: Ni-Chome Ramen.

Recent seatings have included a three-course meal plus sake and Japanese beer for the downright-reasonable price of $33. Who knows … maybe Ni-Chome Ramen will have its own home one day?

The next Ni-Chome pop-ups will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Sunday, July 28, at Evzin Palm Springs, 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Visit that aforementioned Facebook page or www.wabisabijapanliving.com for tickets and more details.


In Brief

Coming soon to the space next to Heirloom Craft Kitchen, at 49990 Jefferson St., in Indio: Tu Madres Cantina and Grill. It’s the latest venture by Andie Hubka, the chef/owner of Heirloom and her original restaurant, La Quinta’s Cork and Fork. A post on the Cork and Fork says: “Our new concept is fresh, modern chef-driven Mexican fare and an amazing bar with a crazy tequila list and craft beer selection. Vegans and gluten-free guests will find plenty of options, too. We love Baja Mexico and are excited to bring home a taste of the culture and cuisine there.” Watch tumadrescantina.com for updates, and expect a fall opening. … Coming soon to Palm Desert: Little Bar, a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant at 73560 Highway 111. Watch www.little-bar.com for further developments. … Coming soon to 117 La Plaza, in downtown Palm Springs: Pineapple Express. We know this because we saw the “Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages” sign in the window of the former Delicatesse space—but that’s all we know for now. Watch this space. … New in the former Greek Islands location at 139 E. Andreas Road, in Palm Springs: The Greek at 13, offering cocktails plus Greek and Italian fare. Learn more at www.facebook.com/thegreekps. … Returning to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: the eighth annual Craft Beer Weekend. Two-dozen-plus craft breweries will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4, along with entertainment and all sorts of revelry. A one-day pass is $50; both days will cost you $85. Get tickets and a complete list of participating breweries at acehotel.com/craftbeer.

Published in Restaurant & Food News