Even if you've never set foot in Starry Kitchen, Nguyen and Thi Tran's unconventional Asian Fusion pop-up restaurant, you know about this place. Nguyen Tran is the guy at every food festival dressed up in a banana suit, yelling into a megaphone about Starry Kitchen's tasty balls (those would be the coveted crispy tofu balls). What began in 2009 as an underground (read: illegal) restaurant in the Tran's apartment morphed into a traveling pop-up (more recently operating inside Grand Star Jazz Cafe) that quickly garnered the praise of food critics and diners alike across the city. But their pop-up ends Jan. 31, and if they don't raise half a million dollars to fund a brick-and-mortar by then—well, they're shutting down for good.
Yeah, that's a huge chunk of change. I'm not generally a fan of restaurants or bars using Kickstarter as a way to fund their projects, but take one look at Starry Kitchen's page and you'll see that their plea is a rather unusual one. Contribute $10 and you'll get your name on their wallpaper. Contribute $400 and you'll go on a food crawl with the Trans. Contribute $10,000 and Nguyen will have YOUR FACE WITH THE BODY OF A UNICORN TATTOOED ON HIS FOREARM.
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the Trans plan to keep the new Starry Kitchen in Chinatown. At the time of this post, over $15,000 has already been raised, but it's still a long way off from their $500,000 goal—and with 27 days left, their balls are firmly in your hands. To, in the words of Starry Kitchen, #saveourballs, donate here. And if you're inspired enough to drop $10,000, I can't wait to see what you look like as a unicorn tattoo.