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Like many Asian Americans, food has always been an integral part of my life. Ever since I could remember, my family has always taken pride and care in preparing large meals and eating together.
Whether it be making dumplings together or going out to try a new Malaysian cuisine, I have found that food has a unique ability to bring my family and friends closer together.
For AAPI Heritage Month, I would like to encourage our community to come together and learn about each other through our universal language of food. I’ve eaten my share of various cuisines, and with the help of TasteAtlas, I’ve selected a few of my favorite local foods representing AAPI heritage that I think you should try.
Not every Asian cuisine is featured below so I highly recommend exploring TasteAtlas to discover popular local dishes in each country.
China: Xiao Long Bao Soup Dumplings
I absolutely love dumplings, but Chinese Xiao Long Bao or soup dumplings are on another level. These steamed dumplings are filled with juicy meat and rich soup. Each dumpling is literally bursting with flavor, but be careful because the juices can be hot!
You can find these at most local Chinese dim sum restaurants, although one of my favorite spots is Din Tai Fung, a popular restaurant chain which specializes in hand-making these juicy dumplings. It’s a must-visit location if you live near one!
Japan: Tonkotsu Ramen
Japanese tonkatsu ramen is my favorite type of ramen. It is a classic comfort food that features an extremely rich and creamy pork bone broth.
The best ramen broth is usually simmered overnight and is full of savory, melt-in-your-mouth flavors and chewy noodles. It’s typically topped with a soft boiled ramen egg and soft, tender chasu pork slices.
And if you live in Austin, you’re living next to my favorite ramen spot called Ramen-Tatsuya. It’s been deemed the best ramen spot in the US by TimeOut, and I still have to agree even after trying numerous ramen spots in LA.
South Korea: Korean BBQ
So Korean BBQ isn’t just one dish — it’s a mouthwatering feast of a number of cuts of premium meats, banchan (side dishes), and soju.
This is one of my favorite ways to bond together with friends new and old, either at the restaurant or at home. Over a heaping pile of delicious meat, you and your friends can cook together, eat together, and drink together!
Thailand: Pad Thai
Pad thai is sweet, salty, and nutty stir fried rice noodles that are considered Thailand’s national dish. I absolutely love ordering pad thai from the restaurant, but when I’m on a budget, I’ll do my best to recreate this.
The dish is surprisingly simple, but you’ll need to add tamarind paste and fish sauce for the most authentic taste.
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India: Chicken Tikka Masala
I am a huge fan of Indian curries, but my go-to classic is chicken tikka masala. In fact, this is one dish I absolutely love making at home. There’s something about curries where you can just make a huge pot filled with any of your favorite ingredients. It also keeps wonderfully over a few days as the flavor profile gets even better with time.
If you own an instant pot, I highly recommend trying to make this dish from scratch. Or if you prefer an easy 10 minute dinner, grab this Mayura Tikka Masala sauce and just add your protein.
Hawaii: Loco Moco
One of my favorite Pacific Islander dishes is loco moco, which happens to originate from Hawaii. It’s so good and also quite easy to make!
At its core, the dish consists of a hamburger patty and eggs with brown gravy over rice. It’s a simple dish with savory ingredients that you can whip up quickly if you can’t find a local Hawaiian restaurant near you.
A big bowl of Vietnamese pho seems to always soothe my soul. It’s no wonder that it’s the national comfort food dish of Vietnam.
This noodle soup is typically made with rich bone broth, soft rice noodles, and topped with thinly sliced brisket.
Philippines: Filipino Spaghetti
Unlike Italian spaghetti, Filipino spaghetti is made with a much sweeter tomato sauce made with sugar and banana ketchup. It’s an inexpensive and delicious comfort food you can easily whip up at home.
One of my favorite locations to get this dish is at the popular Filipino fast food joint Jollibee where they also serve fried chicken with gravy. If you’re lucky enough to live near one of these Jollibee locations, I highly recommend visiting!
Taiwan: Boba Milk Tea
Boba tea originated from Taiwan and has been sweeping the world. I grew up snacking on this sweet milky drink in one hand and a bag of crispy popcorn chicken in the other.
Nowadays, you can find a variety of new milk tea flavors and sweet additions from the classic, chewy tapioca pearls to egg pudding and cream cheese foam.
Thailand: Mango Sticky Rice
If you caught Coachella this year, you may have seen the craze over Thai rapper Milli eating mango sticky rice on stage. This national Thai dessert stars three of my favorite ingredients; mango, coconut milk, and sticky rice.
I didn’t think I’d love this flavor combination until I tried it, but it is honestly so delicious! The dish is sweet yet savory and perfect for a tropical summer dessert.