During the last year, Asian American-owned restaurants have had to weather both the pandemic and unfortunate discrimination. There are so many local eateries with hardworking small business owners serving up delicious food that showcases their culture, that deserve the community’s support. Here are ten Asian American-owned restaurants around the Bay Area, some of them newly opened, some of them hidden gems, all of which are worth a visit.
1. United Dumplings
United Dumplings, a newly-opened restaurant in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, focuses on Beijing cuisine like dumplings and noodles, updated with global flavors. Owners Sandy Zheng and Julia Zhu grew up in Northern China and wanted to share their love of traditional Chinese dumplings, as well as some more creative fusion creations that reflect their life experiences. Don’t miss the traditional XLB (xiao long bao), pork potstickers, and spicy Sichaun wontons, as well as the more unique dishes like the Mission cheese pot stickers, filled with chicken, corn, and mozzarella cheese, Korean BBQ dumplings, and wontons filled with mac and cheese for the kids.
525 Cortland Ave
2. Socola Chocolatier
Socola means “chocolate” in Vietnamese, and Socola Chocolatier has been producing amazing handmade chocolates and confections under the helm of co-founder Wendy Lieu. She started out with just a few Vietnamese inspired flavors, but in the last year has really embraced celebrating her heritage through her chocolate. The Little Saigon Box features 12 beautifully decorated truffles in some iconic Vietnamese flavors like pho, sriracha, lychee, and even durian. They've also released Mother's Day collections on their website of their bestselling truffles - the perfect gift for Mom.
535 Folsom St.
3. Maison Danel
Maison Danel is owners Danel and David de Betelu’s dream come true of a French patisserie in the heart of San Francisco. Their beautiful, ornate space is both a bakery and a tea salon, serving up classic pastries like butter croissants and pain au chocolat, and traditional brasserie fare like quiche and cassoulet. Their signature tea service features a mouthwatering selection of tea sandwiches, mini pastries, and confections served with a pot of hot tea. There’s even a kiddie size version of the tea service served with hot chocolate, so take your kids out for an afternoon tea.
1030 Polk St
Number5Kitchen is the perfect homey yet elevated neighborhood restaurant in downtown San Carlos. Started by chef/owner Henry Eng, the constantly changing menu showcases local ingredients in dishes like wild nettle soup, Pacific petrale sole, and Dungeness crab pasta. They also offer some simple pasta dishes for kids like mac and cheese. In May, they have a pop up Saturday special, featuring a burger or sandwich (including grilled cheese for the kids), soup, and salad.
663 Laurel St.
San Carlos, CA
5. Lazy Susan
Lazy Susan is here to satisfy your Chinese takeout cravings with their menu of 25 classic Chinese American dishes. The difference, as owner Hanson Li, explains, is that they’ve been updated to make them healthier and perhaps even tastier. Many of the dishes are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, which is welcome news to Chinese food lover with food restrictions. You’ll recognize many or most of the items offered, from General Tso’s chicken and broccoli beef to chicken chow mein, all of them super friendly to little kids’ palates. They also offer an Impossible mapo tofu and their signature crispy chicken wings
208 Fell St
6. Saga Kitchen
Saga Kitchen is an Asian food hall that is bringing together food startups and the Asian community. Several budding restaurants decided to band together and work under one roof, including Sachi (sushi), Yue Club (dim sum), and Koharu (Japanese), along with a boba shop. Check for guest pop-ups like GoKiyoi Macarons. There are lots of kid friendly choices, including barbecued pork buns, potstickers, chicken karaage, and katsu sandwiches.
1707 Lincoln Ave.
7. Bake Sum
Bake Sum bakery started as a pandemic project for pastry chef Joyce Tang and combines her classic French pastry training with Asian flavors like ube, Vietnamese coffee, and yuzu. Their signature item is their Bake Sum Box, a weekly collection of seasonal pastries often inspired by Tang’s childhood favorites. You can pre-order the box, along with individual pastries like cookies and breads on the website for pick up at several Bay Area locations every Friday and Saturday.
Pickup at several locations around the Bay Area
8. Tuna Kahuna
This sleek and modern eatery in downtown Burlingame has some of the most beautiful and creative poke bowls around. Although you can create your bowls just like most poke shops, Tuna Kahuna prides themselves on their original creations, which use the freshest, high quality fish and toppings like cured egg yoiks, yuzu truffle sauce, and red pepper paste. They also offer a seasonal chef’s box – call to order.
1117 Burlingame Ave
9. Manila Bowl
Manila Bowl, located in the Market in the Twitter building in San Francisco, offers authentic Filipino cuisine takeout style, in easy to grab and go rice bowls. Owner Frances Tanchanco, whose mother runs a successful restaurant chain in the Philipines, presents classic dishes like sisig, adobo, and lechon over brown or jasmine rice with side salad for a complete meal in a bowl. You can customize with extra meat, an egg, or additional salad. It’s a simple way to get introduced to the best of Filipino cuisine.
1355 Market St.
The just-opened Lily on Clement presents a more upscale, innovative take on Vietnamese food, like duck confit spring rolls, deluxe crab fried rice made with Wagyu beef and uni, and surf and turf garlic noodles. They also have some creative versions of banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches – don’t miss the turmeric fried fish sandwich and roast beef pho dip sandwiches. Their beautiful restaurant is open for dining, and also for takeout.
225 Clement St.
photos not by Anita Chu are provided by the respective businesses.