On June 23, the moon was closest to Pal's Lounge (949 N. Rendon St., 504-488-7257; www.palslounge.com) than it had been all year.
With the astronomical supermoon hanging closer to the earth, the Super Moon Wokery (@supermoonwokery), a pop-up helmed by Grantley Rushing and Alex Siler, served stir-fry to passersby and patrons outside the Mid-City bar.
Rushing and Siler have done seven pop-ups at Pal's since their debut, changing their menu of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai items each week. Last week, the duo served what Rushing dubbed "the tastiest dish yet": a stir-fry of kale and butternut squash topped with peanut-chicken sauce served over noodles.
Rushing, who by day is a chef at Cafe Degas, is learning the workings of a pop-up as he goes. With a single wok, the team is getting the hang of it. Rushing works brunch at Degas on Sunday, runs home to take a five- or 10-minute nap, then heads to Pal's with a single burner, the wok and chopped vegetables. He learned to cook at a strip mall Chinese food restaurant in Jackson, Miss., where a first taste of Sriracha pepper sauce changed his life.
"Learning in the mall was not necessarily the most authentic place, maybe, but the owner was from Thailand," Rushing says. "That was great, because I got to learn American Chinese food and Thai food when he cooked for us or for himself."
Rushing cooks items at Super Moon Wokery, and Siler handles the operation's logistics and pickles all of the garnishing vegetables. The two also moonlight in Texas Funeral, a rock band that performs around the city.
The pop-up gets an early rush, Rushing says, then he and Siler sit around and drink during the lull. "Later, the bargoers arrive," he says. "They come drink and then get hungry."
Rushing says Super Moon has been turning at least a marginal profit, and the duo are saving money for a potential future project. Operating Super Moon Wokery full-time would be Rushing's dream, because he loves the wok, both cooking in it and eating from it. "It's portable," he says. "And on my day off ... I'm probably eating Asian food."
Super Moon is open rain or shine starting at 7 p.m. Sunday and service goes until the food's gone, or, according to Rushing, "until we're too drunk to cook."
— JEANIE RIESS