15 Essential AAPI-Owned Businesses in Austin
From show-stopping dim sum to specialty bookshops, here's where to show your support for AAPI Heritage Month and beyond.
May in Austin is a great time for a whole slew of reasons. The entire town gets in the festive spirit for Cinco de Mayo, the weather is perfect for enjoying the outdoors (including Texas’ finest swimming holes), and it’s when we recognize, celebrate, and show support to our awesome (and growing) AAPI community. Why? Because it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, y’all! And your support this year means more than ever before. With hate crimes on the rise and the effects of the pandemic on the restaurant scene affecting so many AAPI-owned businesses, the last two years have been extremely tough. So it’s high time we show the community some love, drop some hard-earned cash, and have a helluva great time doing so.
We’ve rounded up everything from stellar Chinese takeout spots, Korean salons, and Japanese booksellers, to unstoppable Vietnamese food trucks and incredible coffee roasters, all deserving of your attention this month and beyond. Raise your boba cups, fire up those chopsticks, and crank up the Blackpink—here are Austin’s most essential AAPI-owned businesses.
Tso Chinese Delivery
There’s a reason you’ve been seeing red and white cars with Tso’s logo all over the city: Austin’s gone loco for Tso… in the best way possible. Maybe it’s the free delivery? Maybe it’s because they pay their staff a fair wage and stick to a no-tipping policy? Or maybe it’s just because the food is so darn delicious? Most likely it’s all three. Popular menu items include General Tso Chicken, Fried Rice, Lo Mein, soups, and a surprisingly lengthy vegan menu.
This tiny little import shop—Austin’s only exclusively Japanese market—has expanded to two locations, much to the delight of South Lamar residents. You’ll find Japanese food and cooking ingredients, candy, sake, beers, household goods, and much more. The onigiri counter is extremely popular and usually completely sold out by late lunchtime, so hurry in for a rice triangle.
How to support: Stop by to browse and shop or order curbside pickup and home delivery online.
Fil N’ Viet
Owned by Filipino-Vietnamese couple Rosie and Kevin, this awesome food truck brings you flavors from both cultures, either meshed together or standalone. Menu stars include Lemongrass Chicken, Wild Mushroom Tofu Adobo (as a Banh Mi), and Chicken Inasal. They also have a few Vietnamese Iced Coffee options available if you need to cool down under the trees.
How to support: Stop by for counter service.
Love omakase but also love staying home? Then bring the experience to your own dining room. Sushi chef John Gocong has worked with the likes of Nobu and Uchi and now offers private dining experiences via a journey of 15 to 23 courses (featuring a mix of crudos, nigiri, and yakitori) along with dessert and an optional sake pairing. It’s a one-of-a-kind Austin experience for the ultimate AAPI Heritage Month home celebration.
99 Ranch Market
For anyone tired of the same ol’ brands from H-E-B and Trader Joe’s, give 99 Ranch a whirl. Once you hit the cup noodle aisle, the Pocky treats, and the dumpling freezers, there’s no going back. Better still, switch frozen for fresh and refuel inside the shop. Near the entrance, you’ll find Steamed Buns, Turnip Cakes, Sticky Rice, and Shumai at the counter, plus a Chinese bakery and bubble tea station onsite.
How to support: Stop by to browse and shop or order same-day delivery online.
If you liked your visit to 99 Ranch, consider venturing a little further up north until you reach Asian import Disney Land that is H Mart. The legendary Korean supermarket is more than just a supermarket—here you’ll find a giant food court with dining options ranging from sushi to bibimbap, a Tous Les Jours bakery, a Korean hairdresser, an arcade and a beauty shop. This is as close to Seoul as you’ll get in the state of Texas. Grocery highlights. meanwhile. include their homemade kimchi, sushi-grade fresh fish, and Tteok-bokki Rice Cakes, among other enticements.
How to support: Stop by to browse and shop.
When it comes to Chinese restaurants, they don’t get cooler than Old Thousand. The panda-clad venue hosts a rockin’ brunch, inventive takes on the classics like the Brisket Fried Rice and Kung Pao Brussels, and cocktails with extra kick (we love the Panda Punch). Stop by with pals, invite a date, or take the party home with takeout and delivery options.
Kinokuniya Book Store
This Japanese bookstore was founded in Tokyo back in 1927, and now boasts over 100 stores worldwide, including one right here in Austin. They specialize in manga, graphic novels, art, and design books in English and Japanese, plus magazines, gifts, toys, stationery, and guidebooks. Think Barnes & Noble, but Japanese. This is the place to come and nerd out. We love the Studio Ghibli merchandise section, two words: cuteness overload.
How to support: Stop by to browse and shop or order home delivery online.
A Taste of Koko
Resident food expert Jane Ko has made a feast out of her blog A Taste of Koko over the last decade. She’s Austin’s top influencer, with two Texas guidebooks under her belt (Koko’s Guide to Austin and Koko’s Guide to Fredericksburg). She also lent a helping hand to our Lunar New Year food guide earlier this year.
How to support: Follow her on Instagram or purchase her guidebook online.
Xian Sushi & Noodle
The dumpling scene is improving in Austin, but the OG local go-to will always be Xian—all lovingly handmade on-site and steaming with the juiciest of juices. There are multiple locations, each with a slightly different menu, but first-timers should head to the Domain, which takes the humble won ton and presents it steamed and spicy or fried and cheesy, for your pleasure. Dim sum offerings include Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice, BBQ Pork Buns, and Braised Chicken Feet.
How to support: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Super Thai Cuisine
Austin is home to a small Thai community, but they all hail Super Thai as the most traditional restaurant around. The casual eatery makes everything in-house, including the sauces. Come get your fix of Pad Thai, Gaeng Keow Wan Green Curry, and Tamarind Duck, and if you’re bringing a pal none-too-keen on venturing deep, then the Thai Taco (roti wrap with crispy pork belly, yellow onion and bell pepper tossed in sweet Thai basil sauce) will certainly do the trick.
How to support: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Underneath downtown’s Moonshine Grill lurks one of the snazziest and most intimate bars you’ll ever lay eyes on in Bat City. Kinfolk was founded by local restaurateurs Larry Perdido and Chuck Smith, who alongside director of operations John Nguyen, designed a 20-seat drinking den to feel like an extension of their homes. The result is a speakeasy-style cocktail enclave, complete with the odd cheese or macaroon pairing.
Greater Goods Coffee Roasters
Local roastery Greater Goods Coffee Co. is great because it sources the finest beans sustainably and roasts them fresh to order so customers get the very best in flavor (oh, and it’s Asian-owned and woman-owned, too). Each bag purchased results in a donation to a leading Texas charity such as the Central Texas Food Bank, The Autism Society of Central Texas, and Austin Pets Alive!. They have a flagship store in East Austin, but the beans are available to buy all across the city including at the Whole Foods on Lamar.
How to support: Stop by the flagship location for counter service, shop at your nearest retailer, or order home delivery online.
The Japan-America Society of Greater Austin (JASGA) is a nonprofit that bridges the cultures of Japan and central Texas and works for friendly US-Japan relations. They provide plenty of opportunities throughout the year to partake in festivals, meet-ups, competitions, and other cultural events. Whether you want to practice the language, try your hand at calligraphy, or shop for (and learn how to properly put on) a Kimono, JASGA’s got you covered. Things have been on pause for the last two years but are slowly re-emerging, so keep an eye on their website for updates.
How to support: Follow their events calendar and donate online.
Sazan is the king of ramen restaurants, known best for their signature Paitan Bowl made with creamy broth, arugula, umami egg, and chicken or pork. Besides noodles, the menu also features Indomitable Chicken Wings (seasoned with curry rub and cilantro), Takoyaki Octopus Balls, Mochi desserts and a selection of Japanese-inspired craft cocktails. We recommend the Shun-Sational Old Fashioned.
How to support: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order delivery via Uber Eats.