Celebrating AAPI Month | Cooking With Jade

Celebrating AAPI Month

Celebrating AAPI Month
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Because I have such strong ties to my birthplace of Japan, Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – also known as May – has special significance for me. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to celebrate some of my favorite foods. That’s why – in honor of AAPI Heritage Month – I’ve decided to highlight what I think are some of the best restaurants serving Asian cuisines here in the U.S. We’ll start in Honolulu and work our way to New York, sampling Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Indian food along the way. I hope you’re hungry!

AAPI Heritage Month 2024

Poke In Honolulu

Did you know that Honolulu has a greater percentage of people with Asian heritage than any other city in the U.S.? This is why Hawaiian cuisine is so heavily influenced by countries like China, Japan, and the Philippines, in addition to Pacific Island cultures. The Japanese influence is perhaps most obvious (and, arguably, most delicious) in poke: the colorful, flavorful dish of seasoned, dressed cubes or slices of raw fish. Poke is having its moment on the mainland right now, but Honolulu is still the best place to eat it.

One of the best places to eat it in Honolulu is Ono Seafood, run by a mom (Judy Sakuma) and her daughter (Kim Burg). The to-go bowls of poke are always fresh, and usually glistening with a sweet ginger shoyu sauce. Pro tip from an admitted vegan: eat it right away. Like sushi, poke is meant to be eaten immediately after preparation.

Poke Ono Seafood Honolulu

Filipino Food in Los Angeles

More Filipinos live in Southern California than anywhere else in the U.S. In fact, Los Angeles is even home to “Historic Filipinotown,” among its many ethnic enclaves. One of the most popular spots in that neighborhood is a Filipino street food joint called Dollar Hits. Time to burst some bubbles: meals at this family-run restaurant will cost more than a dollar, though the food is a great value. It’s also incredibly fun: diners are encouraged to grill their own skewers of Filipino BBQ on outdoor charcoal grills! And this spot – which started as a food truck about ten years ago – continues to expand. Dollar Hits recently opened a second location in Southern California, as well as a third in Queens, NY–which means I don’t have to fly across the country to satisfy my craving!

Filipino Dollar Hits Streetfood

Chinese Food In The Bay Area

San Francisco is home to one of the country’s largest and most historic Chinatowns, though Chinese immigrants to the Bay Area have also established large and vibrant Chinese communities well beyond the neighborhood’s borders. That said, the place I want to highlight is in the heart of Chinatown: Mr. Jiu’s. This self-described “contemporary Chinese American restaurant” is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Chinatown. It is also a James Beard Award winner, and believe me when I say that this place is deserving of its accolades. Chef/Owner Brandon Jew’s tasting menu is pricey, but worth it. This creative, seasonal fare features communal entrees like “whole crispy black cod buried in chilis” and “mu shu mushrooms.” I’m generally of the opinion that food is better when shared, but you might have a hard time sharing food this good. 

Mr. Jius

Korean Food In Seattle

Like many of the large West Coast cities, Seattle is home to several AAPI communities. I tend to like all the food I’ve had in this tasty coastal city, but one of my favorite places to eat when I’m in town is a restaurant near the University of Washington called Korean Tofu House. Popular with students and neighborhood residents alike, this bustling spot has been in business for over fifteen years. Carnivores, don’t worry: you can get beef, pork, and other meats here, in addition to tofu. But as you might have guessed, I come here for the latter–especially the warm, comforting, soft tofu soup. 

Korean Tofu House Seattle

Viet-Cajun in Houston

Cajun food has been a part of Houston’s food culture for decades and Vietnamese immigrants have been flocking to Greater Houston since the 1970s (many were displaced by the war). This cultural intersection has birthed a fiery fusion food: Viet-Cajun. Think crawfish seasoned with basil and lemongrass, served alongside steaming bowls of pho. One of the best places to enjoy both dishes is the aptly named Crawfish & Noodles, in the Bellaire neighborhood. Chef/Owner Trong Nguyen is a recent James Beard Award finalist, and Houston can’t get enough of his cooking. That’s why he opened a second location of his popular restaurant at the Houston Farmer’s Market. I predict that this particular combo will soon sweep the country.

Craw Fish and Noodles Houston

Indian Food In Queens, NY

My current hometown of New York City has the largest Indian population in the U.S. and – consequently – some of the best Indian food in the country. You can find several swanky, high-end (i.e. high dollar) Indian restaurants in the city, but one of my favorite spots is located in a temple basement in Queens. Temple Canteen, run by the Hindu Temple Society of North America, started in 1993. Initially, it prepared food for offerings and hungry worshippers, but after word spread about how good that food was, it opened to the public. This very affordable canteen specializes in classic South Indian dishes, like dosas (rice and lentil crepes) and vada (a fried lentil dish that resembles a mini-donut). And since many of the items here are vegan, you can find me here quite often. 

Temple Canteen Ney York

Celebrate AAPI Month Wherever You Are

Of course, you don’t have to travel to any of these cities to appreciate Asian/Pacific Islander food and culture. Try finding an awesome spot near you. Or, for an even cheaper option, check out one of my many Asian-inspired recipes! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to catch the train to Queens.


If you enjoyed this article or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other articles I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.

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