25 Essential AAPI-Owned Businesses You Should Know in Seattle
For AAPI Heritage Month and beyond, these are the local AAPI-owned businesses, restaurants, stores, and more you should support in Seattle.
Seattle’s AAPI community is an essential part of what makes Seattle the incredible place to eat, drink, and live that it is today. Asian American history here goes as far back as the mid-1800s with Chinese migrants contributing to industries that established the region’s wealth and settlement. Like Chinese migrants, Indian and Korean Americans were the builders of the area’s largest industries like canneries, railroads, and agriculture. Prior to the Japanese internment during World War II, Japanese farmers were part of the second-largest group of Japanese Americans in the country, supplying Seattle with a large variety of fruits and vegetables and making up a majority of the vendors at the Pike Place Market. Today, Washington has the third-largest Vietnamese population in the country, many of which originated from the small group of Vietnamese refugees who settled in the Seattle area in 1975.
Even with challenges from racism and discrimination, AAPI immigrants have long been the pioneers of small businesses from restaurants to laundromats and grocery or supply stores. And today, AAPI small businesses are founded with the spirit of creativity, ingenuity, and representation to bring new flavors, products, and push the boundaries for all industries. Patronizing any of the businesses below is just one way to show your support—for AAPI Heritage Month, and every day.
Self-proclaimed “food evangelist” Angela Shen takes locals and tourists alike through all the nooks and crannies of the historic Pike Place Market where guests can have face time with long-time vendors and taste fresh products and seasonal produce. For the outdoorsy food lover, a gourmet kayaking expedition at San Juan Island promises wildlife sightings, gourmet meals, and wine enjoyed beachside after a day of kayaking. The pandemic led Shen to develop A Taste of Seattle food boxes, themed food boxes with gourmet snacks that ship nationwide so anyone can experience the city’s best bites of the area from anywhere in the country.
How to support: Book a tour online
Ayako and Family was founded by its departed matriarch Ayako Gorden in 2009, teaming up with farmer Katsumi Taki of Mair Taki Farm to introduce heritage and heirloom plum varieties through their signature hexagonal jar of preserves. Ayako’s daughter and second-generation jam maker, Alessandra Gordon, continues her mother’s legacy at Ayako and Family, producing jams and shokupan from her mother’s recipes and sharing her memories of Japanese farm-to-table food through her art and writing. Ayako’s jam on toasted buttered shokupan is one of the most popular and unique farmers' market offerings in the city.
How to support: Pick up a jar or two
Longstanding Filipino market Fou Lee plays such a pivotal role in the lives of Beacon Hill residents that Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars wrote a song dedicated to the good days of cruising on the hill and getting food at Fou Lee. You will also spot this iconic market in Marcus Samuelsson’s No Passport Required Seattle episode. The hot food at Fou Lee’s deli is the neighborhood’s best kept secret: lumpia, pancit, kare kare, adobo, and more. Along with its wide range of Asian goods and produce, Fou Lee also takes lechon (roasted whole pig) orders for special celebrations.
How to support: Book that lechon for your next party
Thai Curry Simple owners Mark and Picha Pinkaow bring their lauded curries and well-crafted Thai dishes and desserts to the University District. From their small kitchen and walk-up window, one can order Pad Thai, Kao Mun Gai, Green Curry, Sweet Roti, and Mango Sticky Rice. However, the ones in the know follow their social media for updates on limited specials like a Pork Sausage Fried Rice with salted fish and minced pork, Crab Meat Omelet served over jasmine rice, or Fried Fish Cakes with mixed herbs and cucumber salad.
How to support: Pay them a visit and eat everything
Seattle natives Bobbie Yanoupeth and Michael Sing first found love, then went their separate ways to discover their respective passions. The two reunited in Seattle to create Bahtoh, offering hair styling services from Bobbie, who had worked for celebrities and fashion houses, and floral arrangements from Michael, who dove deep into his passion for florals and has since done flowers for countless weddings. The luckiest guests are able to reserve them, the best of both worlds for any wedding.
How to support: Book an appointment
Wes Yoo acquired popular Ballard bar the Gerald with the hopes of introducing some creative Korean flavors to the menu. After two years, Yoo had transitioned the menu to mostly Korean food in preparation for his boldest move, closing the Gerald entirely to reopen as WeRo, an upscale Korean comfort food restaurant. WeRo’s menu includes Korean fried chicken wings, Jjajang Dupbob (black bean sauce pork shoulder over rice), and Kalbi Steak Ssam Platter. The bar boasts a selection of unapologetically Korean flavors: the Shiwon cocktail with sesame oil washed Amrut single malt and balsamic fig shrub, and the Daldal with 100b makgeolli yogurt, chestnut orgeat, and sujeonggwa syrup.
How to support: Ask for the Steak Ssam Platter
Pike Place Market
Today’s Hmong flower farmers are part of a group of Hmong refugees who began selling flowers at the Pike Place Market in the 1980s. With the help of the Indochinese Farm Project, a project founded to teach Hmong refugees to be self-sufficient, small flower farms sprang up to supply Pike Place Market and other parts of the city with beautiful bouquets. The Hmong Flower Farmers of Pike Place Market, a grassroots effort started during the pandemic, works to provide makeshift market places for 30 different Hmong family farms so you can pick up bouquets in neighborhoods throughout Seattle.
How to support: Follow them for updates on where you can find your nearest bouquet
Certified reiki therapist and transformation coach Kat Larsen believes in the healing power of self-awareness and self-mastery. Through her work as a reiki master and teacher, she guides and encourages people through a journey of addressing toxic beliefs that stem from societal conditioning and generational trauma. Her work promotes relaxation, healing from personal pain, and strengthening of intuition and self-trust. Kat hosts community reiki circles, training, and workshops at her Queen Anne office studio.
How to support: Open your mind to healing and give it a try
Lucky An Dong, a Chinese herbal store based in the International District, has provided ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine like ginseng, dong quai, licorice, and dried jujubes. The shop, which also has an assortment of dried goods for traditional soups and stews like dried shrimp and mushrooms, bears the evocative smells of earth, sea, and fruits. Beyond the curiosities, Lucky also offers affordable everyday kitchen tools, red envelopes, bamboo brooms, and stools.
How to support: Visit them at 1041 S King Street, Seattle
The dishes on Nue’s menu span the globe. With one trip to Nue, you’ll get your palate passport stamped from South Africa, France, China, Cambodia, Burma, Egypt, and more. Their most well-known dish, the South African Bunny Chow is a rich chicken-tomato spiced stew served in a Pullman bread bowl. No bunnies were harmed in its making. Owners Uyen Nguyen and Chris Cvetkovich aim to bring popular dishes from around the world to Seattle through Nue’s rotating menu. Uyen also helped start Viets 4 Afghans, a group of Vietnamese Americans helping newly arriving Afghan refugees resettle in Seattle.
How to support: Make a reservation
If Hawaiian leis could be a cake, it would be the rainbow cake at Cakes of Paradise. A slice of its rainbow cake with its red, green, and yellow stripes almost glow in the case, where you can also choose from slices of other tropical flavored cakes like the pineapple delight, guava cake, and mango. This family-owned bakery has been around since the 1990s, starting as the sister bakery to Kauai Family Restaurant. The bakery also accepts orders for round cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events.
How to support: Stop by early for their limited supply of whole cakes, slices, pastries, and cookies.
The ethos behind Lucky Envelope Brewing could best be described as “culturally inspired beer,” where it draws from both modern and historic brewing techniques and incorporates traditional and non-traditional ingredients. This explains why at its tasting room, you can find both a Peanut Butter Cream Stout and a Raspberry Sour Ale for a little all American PB&J action and then branch out to try its Buddha’s Hand Citron IPA. More adventurously, their offerings are never short of surprises. A “Stinky Juice IPA” with jackfruit and durian or a Sour Patch Kids Watermelon Sour, anyone? Every year, Lucky Envelope releases a new Lunar New Year flavor to highlight Asian flavors. Past flavors include the Li Hing Mui Sour Ale, Pandan Double Happiness, and more.
How to support: Stop by the tasting room
ChuMinh Tofu has all the classics, crispy golden egg rolls, fresh spring rolls, bahn mi, and noodles, and it’s all vegan. At Chu Minh, a Pork Skin banh mi is actually bouncy vermicelli noodles with pickled cucumbers, carrots, and daikon, and chili sauce and vegan mayonnaise. The Roasted Pork? A chashu-style roasted tofu. We won’t say you won’t miss the meat—more that you’ll be impressed by all the things that tofu can do. Every Sunday, Chef Tanya Nguyen and her team at Chu Minh serve meals to those in need outside of their restaurant in Little Saigon.
How to support: Order online and visit their Instagram for more information on how you can support their Sunday meals program
Phocific Standard Time is the new bar addition to the Pham family’s Pho Bac empire. Co-owners Yenvy and Quynh Pham opened the bar based on the idea from their late brother Khoa Pham. The small bar is tucked in an upstairs space above the downtown Pho Bac location to resemble a speakeasy. Its experimental and evocative cocktails like the Trung Muoi, made with pho fat washed Iwai Japanese whisky, cream sherry, nocino, carcavelos is luxurious and made more so with the addition of a salted egg yolk but perhaps the most important drink is the #khoawuzhere, a pho fat washed shot of Jameson with a shot of pho broth, a favorite of the person who started it all.
How to support: Stop by and follow them on Instagram
Many people believe that a meal tells a story. None more so than the meal at Archipelago, a 10 - 12 course menu of progressive Filipino American flavors that take you through the history of the Philippines and the Filipino American diaspora. Reservations for a seat at this eight-seat restaurant in Hillman City are among the most coveted in the city because beyond just a dinner, Archipelago is an experience. With each intricately plated course is a story, a memory, a tribute from the ingredients to even the stones used as plates for a particular dish.
How to support: Can’t get a reservation? Join the waitlist.
Clothing designer Elisa Yip spent the early half of her career designing for fashion designers and high-end retailers in New York and Asia where she saw firsthand the impact on fast fashion on the industry and the environment. With her own line SSKEIN, Elisa uses natural fibers from baby alpacas for her sustainable knitwear made in modern and timeless designs for endless wear. SSKEIN couples its waste-reduced production model with carbon-neutral shipping services and 100% recycled packaging. SSKEIN’s selection of cardigans, pull-over sweaters, and wraps are the ready-to-wear basics that will become the winter favorites for years to come.
How to support: Shop for your new favorite piece
Sam Ung opened the first Phnom Penh Noodle House on King Street in the International District. There, he raised his family, supported a community, and told his story of surviving the Cambodian genocide through his book, I Survived the Killing Fields: The True Life Story of a Cambodian Refugee. His three daughters Darlene, Dawn, and Diane grew up there, spending much of their young lives in and around the business before taking over the business entirely. The sisters closed the location in 2018, promising to return, and reopened in 2020 on Jackson Street in the newly built Thai Binh residential building. Its menu boasts largely the same favorites like the Battambang’s Favorite noodle with ground dried shrimp, roasted peanuts, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a hard boiled egg over a bed of thin rice noodles. The Phnom Penh Chicken Wings with their sweet, savory garlic black pepper sauce continue to be a hit as well. What has changed is the new white, modern space with bamboo accents and a larger kitchen to reflect the preferences of the three sisters who have now made this Seattle institution truly their own.
How to support: Stop in to dine or order take out
Duck Duck Bucks creates multilingual board books representing multilingual values and themes for children ages 0 to 5 with the belief that like ducklings that take to land and water, people learn best with language when they are fully immersed from birth. Its colorful, graphic-rich books include Chinese bilingual, Cantonese bilingual, and Spanish bilingual books that touch on topics like embracing diversity, self-expression, and confidence. Its website also includes read along videos to help parents with pronunciation or take a break from reading.
How to support: Buy a book and support their Kickstarter for their new book
With the wide variety of Asian markets in the area, it’s no longer as difficult to find Asian produce, but among the large group of farmers in Washington state, very few are Asian and fewer among them have committed to growing Asian produce. Steven Hsieh and Elizabeth Whitman of Tian Tian Farm started as journalists and now run their half-acre farm on Vashon Island growing tender gai lan, bok choy, sweet potatoes, perilla, daikon, and pea vines. Steven and Elizabeth are second generation Taiwanese and Chinese Americans, who hope that their work at Tian Tian Farm can introduce and promote local sustainably grown Asian heritage produce.
How to support: Visit the website for more information
Capitol Hill & Ballard
When Spice Waala owners Uttam Mukherjee and Aakanksha Sinha moved to Seattle from Cincinnati, they sought to open a food truck to peddle Indian street food made with high quality ingredients. Don’t be fooled by its small menu, where all items from their Kathi Rolls and snacks are made from scratch and incorporate rich spices and flavors. Its Chicken Tikka roll remains its most popular roll, but the lamb kebab roll with ground lamb patties and its Paneer Bhurji Roll with its housemade paneer are the true standouts. Spice Waala now has both Ballard and Capitol Hill brick and mortar locations, but unlike most restaurants in the area, all items on their menu are under $10.
How to support: Stop in to their Capitol Hill or Ballard location, or order online
International District’s Trichome is a unique boutique touting the legalization lifestyle. Among its many firsts, Trichome is the first in Seattle to legally and publicly serve cannabis concentrates and eventually became known for its pop-ups that offered THC coffee pour overs, cream puffs, and hot chocolate. The boutique has weathered the ever changing landscape of the cannabis market and continues to define and shape the direction of cannabis and psychedelic brands with a focus on incorporating BIPOC voices, designs, and products.
How to support: Shop the store or shop the site
The beginnings of Floating Leaves Tea started when Taiwanese owner Shiuwen Tai would host tea tastings at her home. She continued to return to Taiwan each year to learn about tea and eventually opened a small shop Floating Leaves Tea in Ballard, which specializes in Taiwanese Oolong. Along with Floating Leaves Project Manager Noah Baseleon-Abbott, the two continue to source new types of tea leaves from Taiwan and offer pandemic-friendly tea education through their podcast, Floating Leaves Tea Podcast. It now has a warehouse in Taiwan that can ship globally and a US-based site that ships nationally. Each tea selection like the delicious sounding Milk and Honey Oolong and 2021 Winter Smooth Water Baozhong comes with documented harvest location, dates, and story.
How to support: Shop their selection and learn more about it through their podcast
The Pioneer Barber Company occupies the historic space of Osami’s Barber Shop, founded by Osami and his wife in 1948 after the end of Japanese internment. Pioneer offers classic services for women and men like hot towel shampoos, shaves, hair coloring, and waxing in cushy, vintage chairs that will bring you back in time. Best part? They also offer beer. Once finished, you’ll have a whole new do, feel like a whole new you coming out of an old space with 90 years of history.
How to support: Book your next appointment
Meryenda by day, pulutan by night. In 2019, Hood Famous Cafe found its home in the International District’s Publix building, historically built for migrant workers like Filipino cannery and farm laborers. By day, the bakery and cafe offers light meryenda snacks, plus its famous ube cookies and cheesecakes along with its coffee program. It recently expanded its space to include a cocktail bar offering pulutan, Filipino bar food. The meryenda menu with a warm, nourishing arroz caldo and sweet, hearty mochi waffles are worth waking up early for, even if you had stayed late at its bar drinking one too many ube daiquiris the night before.
How to support: Stop in day and night for both experiences, or order online
Midnight Supply Company is an apparel and accessories print shop making the hottest swag for the city’s establishments like Delaurenti, Rose Temple, Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, Caffe Vita, and Little Woody’s. MSC works with artists to brainstorm and translate works to cloth, and it employs a variety of printing techniques and colors so T-shirts, hats, totes, and hoodies can be a wearable canvas for art and expression.
How to support: Shop the store and make your own customized shirt