Girls on Wheels Discover a ‘Wonton’ in a Million Market

A treasure trove of all things Asian at Asian Times Square

Vicki Baker

The aroma of a whole compendium of cuisines wafted through the air: Korean barbecue, Mongolian hot pot, dim sum, pho, teriyaki. Grocery stores stocked with the freshest produce, meat, and live seafood from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, and other Far East countries. Chinese and Indian medicine practitioners, experienced in alternative healing techniques, acupuncture, cupping, massage, and herbal remedies.

A trip to Asia costs thousands of dollars and requires traveling halfway around the world. But Girls on Wheels (Vicki Baker, Lois Reinhart, Susan Hebert, Karen DiPietro, Cassie Richardson) discovered a place in North Texas where we could immerse ourselves in Asian cultures without ever leaving the metroplex—Asia Times Square.

This super complex, one of the largest Asian marketplaces in Texas, centered in the immigrant enclave of Grand Prairie, was much more than the average shopping center. It was a hub for eastern goods, services, and flavors.

Food is always connected to a sense of place, whether that’s as far away as Cambodia or a food court in Grand Prairie. While the number of restaurants wasn’t huge, we had a full day of culinary adventure. Daring to try something new, we snacked on Chinese and Vietnamese pastries from Hong Kong Bakery. At Gong Cha, we drank Thai iced tea, perfectly spiced with star anise, tamarind, and cardamom. We lunched at The Pearl and sampled dim sum, along with a variety of stir-fried dishes. And we finished the day with freshly baked, custard-filled, Japanese-style eclairs from Beard Papa.

Food, again, was the primary component of Asia Times Square’s appeal as we explored the luxuriant grocery aisles of Hong Kong Marketplace. Here, we didn’t just shop—we experienced! We found ourselves picking up products without any English translation on the packaging. Unfamiliar fruits and vegetables populated the produce bins. Live fish and seafood swam in fresh- and salt-water tanks awaiting our selection. Teas, spices, sauces, rice, noodles, miso pastes—the sheer volume of product options was a bit disorienting.

Asia Times Square also housed a variety of health and beauty shops, retail stores, law offices, and financial services, all under one roof. The small retail shops showcased unique items from various cultures, from jade and porcelain to artifacts and ethnic garments. Herbalists, acupuncturists, and other traditional Asian health practitioners offered consultations and services. Salons specialized in skincare, cosmetics, hair care, and even edible bird’s nest.

Asia Times Square was a place for Girls on Wheels to come together with the Asian community and engage in traditions we knew little about. A place to experience something new. To understand other cultures. To broaden our minds. To broaden our horizons.