Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Restaurants and businesses to support in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Christie Ileto, Nydia Han and Jaclyn Lee welcome Saturday’s FYI Philly with a trip to some of Philly’s best businesses to check out during AAPI Month.

Chef Sam Chen shares the flavors of Taiwan at Bao Bun Studio

Sam Chen has been a chef for over 20 years.

His career has taken him from the kitchens where he first learned the trade to Taiwan and China to Philadelphia where he worked in popular kitchens like Sampan, Susanna Foo and Buddakan.

The chef launched his own company in March 2020, creating his Bao Bun Studio.

The company started as a ghost kitchen with takeout and delivery, offering its collection of 10 flavors of bao bun.

Some favorites include Kung Pao chicken, pork belly and Mongolian beef. The menu has expanded to include Asian-flavored chicken wings and burritos.

The Chief works in Building 39 of the Frankford Arsenal. The communal kitchen is home to 11 chefs with 11 different cooking styles.

The space is available to hire for special events with an “arsenal” of chefs available to fill the menu for your special day.

Every Friday they host a happy hour open to the public from 4-8pm with local Stickman Brews serving beer and Sam’s bao buns and other creations from the communal kitchen.

Studio Bao Bun | Facebook | instagram | Building 39
5401 Tacony Street, Philadelphia, PA 19137

Ikki Japanese in the old town has lovely sushi dishes
Sushi, sashimi and signature rolls are all highlights of the Japanese menu at Ikki Japanese Cuisine and Bar in Old Town.

The open sushi bar offers patrons the opportunity to watch each roll carefully cut, rolled and garnished.

You can enjoy a sampler like the Ikki Love Boat which includes the ocean rainbow roll with whitefish, tuna, salmon, and yellowtail flounder creating a colorful dish.

The Ikki Special is a fried tempura-style roll with Alaskan king crab, shrimp, and avocado.

Or try a roast duck appetizer rolled in Singapore flatbread with spring mix, avocado and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Ikki Japanese kitchen and bar | Facebook | instagram
310 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Revolution Taco turns the tables with a Mexican-Vietnamese infusion
At Revolution Taco, chef-owner Carolyn Nguyen is a classically trained chef who whips up tacos, bowls, burritos and more in her Rittenhouse Square outpost.

Homemade hot sauces, like the Ancho Curry Mango, are an example of how she likes to combine flavors from different cultures.

Chef Carolyn’s parents are both originally from Vietnam, but they met and married in the United States and started their family in Louisiana, where Carolyn grew up.

She made Philadelphia her home in 2004 and worked at restaurants like Fork, Russet, Nectar, Susanna Foo and White Dog Cafe.

She started her journey as an entrepreneur with food trucks, and now here at her own brick-and-mortar plans to expand the service to include dinner and brunch.

Taco Revolution | Facebook | instagram
2015 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Monday to Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Main Street Pho serves amazing flavor of Vietnamese noodle dish
At Main Street Pho in Manayunk, the restaurant’s specialty is in its name.

Owner Charles Dang serves the traditional Vietnamese noodle dish in a variety of flavors from beef brisket and meatballs to shrimp and fishballs.

It also does vegan flavors, like veggies and fried tofu.

In Vietnam, pho is usually served for breakfast.

The origin of pho dates back to northern Vietnam in the late 1800s, its influence goes back even further. Vietnamese cuisine is often heavily influenced by Chinese and French cuisines.

Although pho is the most popular menu item, banh mi, chicken wings and bubble tea are also favorites.

The long-awaited Bun bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup, is now also on the menu.

Main Street Pho | Facebook | instagram
4307 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Baker donates all profits to non-profits
By day, Pauline (alias PJ) Dziama works as an industrial designer. At night, she hits the kitchen for her side hustle, PJ Bakes.

Baking is her creative outlet after a long day in front of the computer.

A fan favorite is her “‘Got Rice?’ Crispies’—a cookie rolled in cereal, dusted with white chocolate and stuffed with marshmallow. And she’s always experimenting with different flavor combinations, like ube jam.

Dziama’s mother is Filipino, her paternal grandmother is Ukrainian, so many of her recipes are a Filipino/Ukrainian fusion.

She created what she calls the ideal cookie dough in the center, but the outside is super crispy.

Each week, she creates a menu of sweet and savory dishes and puts it online for sale.

PJ then donates all proceeds, giving 100% of the money to nonprofits working on issues of racism or inequality.

She started PJ Bakes because she wanted to participate in Bakers Against Racism.

Dubbed the world’s largest DIY bake sale, it was created in June 2020, inviting bakers of all skill levels, from around the world, to help raise money for the cause.

PJ answered the call.

She maintains a running list of nonprofits she has supported over the past 2 years: Black Lives Matter, Bake the Vote, Fighting COVID.

Then, when Russia invaded Ukraine, she received a message from her Ukrainian father: “Are you going to cook for us? »

So she cooked for humanitarian aid.

When she heard about a cargo plane loaded with supplies in northeast Philadelphia that needed money for fuel, she cooked for it.

Sometimes she works solo; other times, she collaborates with chefs, cafes, or others in Philadelphia’s food industry.

Now the town that seemed so foreign at the start of the pandemic has started to feel like home and PJ says, “I just don’t see any reason to stop.”

Baked PJ | Facebook | instagram

Bakers Against Racism |Facebook | instagram

Leta’s Baking and Moon Flour Bake Shop Highlight Rise of Online Bakeries
Who needs brick and mortar? We take a look at the online bakeries born during the pandemic with two bakers building their brands on social media.

Zaneta Phean’s online bakery runs Leta’s Baking.

She specializes in personalized cakes, especially number and letter cakes, which are very trendy. The self-taught baker decorates her creations with an assortment of delicacies, fresh fruit and goodies.

Zaneta is Thai, Laotian and Cambodian and says she shares her passion and culture through baking.

It combines Asian flavors with French-inspired pastries, such as durian crumbrulee fruit tart and durian puff pastry.

Samantha Lam is the founder of an online bakery she calls Moon Flour. She is Chinese and incorporates the moon in her name, which is an important symbol in Chinese culture.

She started by selling what she calls Ube Crinkles. She also bakes a chocolate chip cookie with ube.

But a bigger hit are the chocolate chip cookies that incorporate dark sesame flavor.

Its banana pudding with flavors of ube, matcha and pandan is also a hit. It focuses on American favorites, but with an Asian twist.

Sam says she has always loved baking and with every whip she hopes to unite the community with her culturally inspired desserts.

Moon Flour Bakery | instagram
Leta’s bakery | instagram

Kayuh is the mobile bike shop that will come to you
At the Kayuh Bicycles and Cafe store in Francisville, you can grab a smoothie, coffee sandwich, and more.

While shopping for bikes, bike accessories or waiting for your bike to be repaired.
What if you don’t want to go to the store? The shop, with a van equipped with everything needed to do most repairs, will come to you.

Shop owner Henry Sam started cycling about eight years ago when he was 14. It was a great way to get around.

And because his family grew up in poverty, when the bike needed fixing, he had to fix it himself.

Sam then began buying used bikes on Craigslist, repairing them and then reselling them for a profit.

At the age of 17, Sam was working as an apprentice at Kayuh.

When the owner returned to Malaysia, Sam bought the store.

He took over just months before the pandemic. With gyms closed and people flocking to outdoor workouts, demand was exorbitant.

But Sam says people didn’t want to come into the store. So, he thought, why not start a mobile bike shop?

For Sam, raised by parents who had fled the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, his rise to entrepreneurship is a source of immense pride. At 23, he is already planning to open a second brick and mortar.

Kayuh bike shop and cafe | Facebook | instagram
1900 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130

Samsara Sari gives new life to old sarees in the form of pillows, dresses, etc.
India’s exotic and colorful saris are transformed into new items by Namita Reddy, founder and designer of Samsara Sari.

The local brand is the brainchild of an Indian-born architect who wanted to find a way to keep cupboards full of saris from ending up in landfills.

Reddy receives donated saris and then reuses them using her designs for things like pillows, dresses, scrunchies, and tutu skirts for the girls.

She says it’s a way for her to “celebrate the beauty of the sari, and the beauty of India because it has such a rich culture and history”.

In Sanskrit, the word ‘samsara’ translates to ‘cycle of rebirth’ – the perfect description of Reddy’s use of the pre-loved sarees, so steeped in the traditions of Indian culture.

samsara sari | Buy here | instagram

BalletX presents world premieres and a dance party at the Mann Center
BalletX launches its Spring Series at the Mann Center, with several world premieres and big names in the world of contemporary ballet.

Spring Series 2022 will mark BalletX’s three-year spring residency.

Choreographer Jennifer Archibald will stage the world premiere of a work set to “house music”.

The series will also feature award-winning choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and is part of the Mann’s Picnic series.

BalletX | Facebook | instagram
The Spring Series 2022 takes place on May 18 and 19, 2022

TD Pavilion at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts
5201 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19131
Part of the Mann Picnic Series

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