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Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with Onigiri, Soba, & Kimchi

By Sophie Brochu
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During May, we honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by celebrating with varied cuisine across the United States. The AAPI community is diverse, which means there are so many delicious dishes and styles of food to try, including traditional, contemporary, and fusion fare. From ni-hachi soba noodles to kimchi jigae, here are just a few spots to get you started.

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Peking-Style Squab

Husband-and-wife team Henji Cheung and Sarah Thompson bring Cantonese cuisine with a twist (and plenty of natural wine) to Washington, DC. Chef Cheung grew up eating and cooking traditional Cantonese in Hong Kong. While we’re all familiar with Peking-style duck, which originated during Beijing’s Imperial era, Cheung uses dry-aged squab with Mandarin orange and five spice. Think tender meat, crispy skin, claws still on.

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Ni-Hachi Soba Noodles

Authentic ni-hachi soba noodles are handmade daily at Kamonegi in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Growing up in Tochigi, Japan, Chef Mutsuko Soma first learned to make these noodles by watching her grandmother. Now, her crew is forming, rolling, and cutting at least six rounds of soba per day, with each batch yielding about fifteen orders of noodles.

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Kamayan Feast

This traditional Filipino feast is served on banana leaves. Tagalog for “by hand,” a Kamayan meal is enjoyed without plates or utensils. Tanám’s spread features spicy coconut milk mussels, roasted pork belly, double-fried sticky chicken wings, and tangy green papaya slaw.

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Onigiri

Handy, tasty, healthy. Onigiri is a staple in Japan for comfort food on-the-go. You see it in a variety of flavors in convenient stores, restaurants, at markets, in lunch boxes, and at food stands. After coming to Chicago to study business and design at Illinois Institute of Technology, Yuta Katsuyama was surprised by the lack of onigiri. So, he decided to make his own. The Onigiri Shuttle Kororin delivers delicious Japanese rice balls all over Chicago.

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Kimchi Jigae

Oseyo is a modern Korean American restaurant inspired by mom’s recipes. Here, you can find both traditional favorites and non-traditional dishes. The kimchi jiage, or kimchi stew, is a hearty, umami-driven dish that dates back to the mid-Joseon era. Made with tofu, pork, and veggies, Oseyo’s jigae is served with steamed purple rice and daily banchan for the table.

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Vietnamese Tasting Menu

The talented team behind Berlu offers 12-course tasting menus that explore the flavors and techniques of Vietnam, while utilizing Pacific Northwest produce. Chef Vince Nguyen calls his style of cooking “eccentric, but always authentically so.” You might see durian custard with the texture of silken tofu, bánh bò nướng topped with caviar, or grilled squid with coconut, onion, and lavender.

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Papaya Salad

Thip Khao is the first full-service Lao restaurant in Washington, DC, and it’s one of the few throughout the country. Chefs Seng and Bobby aim to preserve their culture by leaning into history, recipes, and art, with a goal of encouraging the Lao-American communities to follow the journey of Lao storytelling. The papaya salad is prepared traditionally in a mortar and pestle, creating a blend of crunchy and chewy textures, while melding with a spicy funky sauce.

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