The AAPI team members here at SteelHouse wanted to put together this page to help celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We hope you enjoy some of the things we want to share from our community.
Here are some recent picks and diverse movie pairings curated by our Front-end Developer Julian Park - creator of the #moviechat Slack channel.
The Big Sick (2017)
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.
David Kim becomes desperate when his 16-year-old daughter, Margot, disappears and an immediate police investigation leads nowhere. He decides to search the one place that no one else has: Margot's laptop.
A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
Minding the Gap (2018)
Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust-Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.
The Half of It (2020)
When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn't expect to become his friend - or fall for his crush.
A woman who is suffering from empty nest syndrome gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings springs to life.
Reading literature is essential in learning more about Asian American history as well as gaining an understanding of what it means to identify as an Asian American, and the experiences that entails.
Here are some books our senior interactive designer, Aisha Deocares, recommends.
The Making of Asian America: A History
By Erica Lee
Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. But as Lee shows, Asian Americans have continued to struggle as both “despised minorities” and “model minorities,” revealing all the ways that racism has persisted in their lives and in the life of the country.
Asian American Dreams
By Helen Zia
Part memoir, part social history, this book is about the transformation of Asian Americans from a few small, disconnected, and largely invisible ethnic groups into a self-identified racial group that is influencing every aspect of American society.
Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now
By Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, Philip Wang
In this intimate and frequently hilarious guided tour through the pop-cultural touchstones and sociopolitical shifts, Rise chronicles how we’ve arrived at today’s unprecedented diversity of Asian American cultural representation through interactive graphics, charts, graphic essays from major AAPI artists, exclusive roundtables with Asian American cultural icons, and more.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.
Good Girls Marry Doctors
Edited by Piyali Bhattacharya
Each of the beautifully lyrical essays in Good Girls Marry Doctors takes readers on thoughtful journeys through rebellion and disobedience, as in the book’s subtitle, but also insightful examinations of faith and spirituality, motherhood and the choice to remain childfree, poignant tales of coming out and the battle to follow one’s own dreams when a gold standard for one’s future has already been set.
By Viet Thanh Nguyen
Set as the flashback in a coerced confession of a political prisoner, the book tells the story of the South Vietnamese Government in 1975 and subsequent events in American exile in Los Angeles, through the eyes of a half-Vietnamese, half-French undercover communist agent.
By Charles Yu
Willis Wu, who acts on a police procedural called “Black and White” and is chasing his dream role of “Kung Fu Guy.” However, he must first work his way up through a series of roles, including “Generic Asian Man” and “Background Oriental Making a Weird Face.”
By John Okada
Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro Yamada earns two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle. Ichiro’s voice subverts Japanese postwar “model-minority” stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s “threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world.”
Superman Smashes the Klan
By Gene Leun Yang
Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross” and drawn by Gurihiru, Gene Luen Yang brings us his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan!
American Born Chinese
By Gene Leun Yang
A creative tale about three different characters that seemingly have nothing in common, American Born Chinese weaves together these narratives in a unique and satisfying way. Jin Wang is a Chinese American student in a town where no one else looks like him.
They Called Us Enemy
By George Takei
They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
By Adrian Tomine
Adrian Tomine's graphic novel Shortcomings is his only work that fully deals with themes of being a young Asian-American male in American society. Ben Tanaka, the story's protagonist, lives in Berkeley, California with his politically active girlfriend Miko Hayashi.
The Name Jar
By Yangsook Choi
There is nothing more embarrassing for a new student than to have their name mispronounced by classmates and teachers alike. Instead of dealing with being called by various, incorrect names, Unhei decides to let her classmates give her a name. As the students fill the jar with different suggestions, Unhei begins to realize the power and honor in her own Korean name.
By Kelly Yang
Mia and her family are working in less than desirable conditions at a motel after moving to the United States to start a new life. Despite the tough circumstances, Mia spends her shifts at the motel dreaming about becoming a writer while also assisting her parents as they help new immigrants acclimate to the country.
Here is a list of recommended restaurants in Southern California, and dishes to try across the vast and wide spectrum of Asian cultures. Many of them are favorites of our Creative Director and resident foodie, Sharon Hom. These are restaurants you’d find in ethnic enclaves outside of Los Angeles, such as the Vietnamese in Orange County, Chinese and Taiwanese in San Gabriel Valley, or Japanese in Torrance, but they are all certainly worth the drive. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it’s certainly a place to start. (Note: Yelp links have been included, but ignore the Yelp ratings. It’s a known fact amongst us AAPI that Yelp ratings are by no means an indicator of how delicious it is!)
Kang Kang Food Court
Known for their Shanghai Pan-Fried Dumplings (“Shenzen bao”). They also have a hot food bar and huge menu of dishes from various regions in China, so it’s a great way to explore Chinese food from all over.Check Them Out on Yelp
Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie
Eclectic “Hong Kong-style cafe” food has been comfort food for many Cantonese all over the world and all the way to our very own San Gabriel Valley. There’s a lot of Western influence in these dishes—you can read more about the history here.Check Them Out on Yelp
Known for their knife-cut noodles. Try their Beef Stewed Noodle Soup!Check Them Out on Yelp
Ham Ji Park
Known for their pork spare ribs and pork neck stew. The kimchi fried rice is mixed in a stone pot at your table, and very tasty as well. Go with friends because the portions are huge.Check Them Out on Yelp
Known for their braised beef short ribs (“galbi jjim”).Check Them Out on Yelp
Formerly Myung Dong Kyoja. Known for their chicken noodle soup (“dak kalguksu”) and dumplings (“mandu”). Their delicious kimchi is housemade and very garlicky, leaving you with a stinky breath and a satisfied stomach.Check Them Out on Yelp
Ichimi Ann Bamboo Garden
Known for their soba noodles, freshly made in-house.Check Them Out on Yelp
Great spot for traditional izakaya “Japanese bar” food.Check Them Out on Yelp
Delicious and colorful Japanese desserts like soft mochi to satisfy your sweet tooth.Check Them Out on Yelp
Popular dishes include: crab, shrimp and pork tapioca noodle soup (“banh canh tom cua thit heo”), crab, shrink and pork dried rice noodle (“hu tieu kho tom cua thit”) crab, shrimp and pork fried rice (“com chien tom cua thit”) and egg rolls. For a delicious Vietnamese drink, try the pandan mung bean drink (“dou xanh la dua”). Pro tip: expect a wait on weekends, so try to line up before they open.Check Them Out on Yelp
Must try this popular Vietnamese dish that originated in the city of Hue: “banh beo,” or Vietnamese steamed rice cakes. “Bun bo hue” is another popular Vietnamese noodle soup from Hue, containing rice vermicelli, beef and a spicy kick.Check Them Out on Yelp
Ask a Vietnamese person where you can get good pho in Los Angeles, and they will tell you to go to Orange County instead. Here is one that comes highly recommended.Check Them Out on Yelp
Phnom Penh Noodle Shack
This popular spot is actually a breakfast spot—they close at 3pm, so arrive early and expect a wait. Their menu makes it easy: try the House Special (Phnom Penh Noodles). You can get the noodles dry, and it comes with a delicious pork bone broth on the side, or have your noodles directly in the soup.Check Them Out on Yelp
Vientiane Lao Thai
Recommended dishes include the Lao sausage (served with a delicious spicy dipping sauce), crispy fried rice (“Nam kao tod), “kao piak” or chicken rice noodle soup, “pho Lao”, and papaya salad.Check Them Out on Yelp
LA Rose Cafe
Serves traditional Filipino cuisine. Try the halo-halo while you’re there!Check Them Out on Yelp
Wanderlust is known for their unique flavors inspired by world travel. The Passionfruit Cacao (it’s vegan!) and the Ube Malted Crunch (one of their signature flavors) both come highly recommended.Check Them Out on Yelp
(Formerly Lasa) Owned by Filipino Americans, this restaurant recently pivoted during the pandemic and is now doing dishes inspired by rotisserie and lechon from the Philippines.Check Them Out on Yelp
Mutiara Food & Market
Try the “mee goreng” (spicy fried noodles), nasi goreng (fried rice), and any one of the curries while you’re there.Check Them Out on Yelp
Order your choice of “naan” (Tandoori baked bread), “momo” (dumplings), “chow chow” (Nepali-style noodles), “aloo gobi” (potatoes and cauliflower), and any of the “tikka masala” dishes.Check Them Out on Yelp
Tara's Himalayan CuisineCheck Them Out on Yelp
Borneo Kalimantan CuisineCheck Them Out on Yelp
Businesses have taken a hit because of the pandemic and Asian American businesses have seen the brunt of it. Here is a list of Asian American businesses you can throw your support behind.
Korean skincare is world-famous. This website makes it accessible and easy to order online.
A Good Used Book
Asian-owned online bookstore based in Koreatown, Los Angeles.
Japanese-owned nursery and hardware and kitchen supply store.
Japanese-owned garden supply store.
Small-batch, handcrafted kombucha.
Direct-to-consumer food brand that sells “starters,” or sauce mixes for Asian dishes.
Online Japanese snack market and subscription box. The subscription box is a curated mix of authentic snacks from Japan. Makes for an awesome gift!