- This month we celebrate the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
- Some of the oldest Chinatowns in the U.S. date from the mid 1800s.
- A lot of history to learn and recipes to try in different states.
May is around the corner and it is the month when the United States celebrates the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
It is joined by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congress, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Archives and Records Administration, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution to honor the many generations of families who immigrated from Asian and Pacific Islanders to America, enriching the country’s history and culture.
So if you are traveling inside the U.S. in May, you can join the celebration by adding to your itinerary local spots related to this month’s theme. To help you create that list, we brought you some ideas with unique Asian food places across the country.
San Francisco, CA
It all started in 1849, when San Francisco saw the first known Chinese restaurant in the country. Since then, Asian cuisine has become one of the favourites among Americans and the number of restaurants has escalated to more than 50,000.
Many years have passed and the city has seen many businesses come and go, but one name that still stands out is the Golden Gate Bakery. Located between other Asian shops on Grant Ave, this is a must-go for egg tart fans.
The popularity of this place has gone so far beyond imagination that there was even a Twitter account that, for eight years, was dedicated almost exclusively to report if Golden Gate Bakery was open or not.
Seattle is the home of some of the oldest Chinatowns in the country. It’s also where you can find Maneki, a traditional Japanese restaurant founded in 1904 and a landmark for Asian culture resilience on the West Coast.
The restaurant is currently owned by a nonprofit organization called InterimCDA, created to preserve Seattle’s International District. Before 2020, the stellar sushi recipes served were accompanied by traditional Japanese architecture and interior design, with a private tatami room — no shoes allowed — and low tables for a complete guest experience.
Los Angeles, CA
For tea lovers, when passing by its Koreatown, one excellent spot not very noticed by tourists is Hwa Sun Ji. Low tables, traditional Korean music, and a variety of tea should make anybody’s afternoon even more special.
Another must-visit place in the City of Angels is Matsuhisa. After moving to Los Angeles in 1977, chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa decided to combine his experience as a sushi master from Japan and Peru to open his own restaurant in 1987. Chef “Nobu” developed a respected name for himself with the “Matsuhisa Special Dishes” and his signature dish: black cod in miso.
The popularity of his name granted him the chance to even have small roles in movies, like Casino (1995). He was also able to expand his business to New York, under the name of “Nobu”, in Tribeca, which takes us to our next tip.
New York, NY
The Big Apple has always been known for having a little bit of everything on its streets. It’s no different for its Chinatown neighborhood. One of the most traditional businesses of the area is The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
Located on Bayard St, only a few minutes walking from Canal St Station, this family-owned business attracts tourists and locals for its delicious sweets and customized ice cream cakes. If you are visiting New York in the summer, don’t forget to swing by and try the almost cookie or the zen butter flavors.
The Cantonese restaurant Jing Fong, on Elizabeth St, is also a great option with over 120 tables available for customers. After your meal, you may want to check out the menu at Mei Li Wah Bakery Bakery, a classic option in the neighborhood since 1968.
If you are ever in Honolulu during the first Friday of any month, you may want to swing by its Chinatown. That’s because the city has created a tradition of partying, having its cafes, restaurants, and bars stay open late.
One awesome place where you can try a different kind of Vietnamese Phở, is the must-stop called The Pig and the Lady. Its broth is considered sweeter by some locals, compared to the traditional rice noodles, sliced meat, bean sprouts, and lime you may be used to, but very special nonetheless.
You can also dive into traditional dishes of Native Hawaiian cuisine and try all varieties of Poke in the island. Start your journey by the Maguro Brothers, at the Kekaulike Market. Ask them about the Hawaiian Limu Ahi Poké Bowl or the Ume, a plum blossom, easily found in Chinese, Japanes, and Korean recipes.
Portland’s Chinatown is a gem by itself. That’s because the neighborhood is the home of some of its most famous places, including Lan Su Chinese Garden, the always fun Voodoo Doughnut,as well as the Portland Saturday Market, which has been around for over four decades.
You may even include the world famous Powell’s City of Books, one of the most important businesses in the weird city of Portland, and part of our list of awesome bookstores to visit across the country.
However, with a Chinatown neighborhood that has been around since the 1870s, there is more out there than just the tourist spots. You can navigate through its history by eating lunch at Dan & Louis’ Oyster Bar.
This family-owned restaurant dates back to 1907 and even after five generations of management later it is still a landmark in the city. Their business went through a few challenges last year — like many others —, so you have one extra reason to swing by their location to try their oysters and appreciate their history.
Have a nice trip!
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That’s all folks! See you in our next publiCATTions!