This post was published on March 22, 2021 and has since been updated.
Looking for a new coffee brand to mix up your morning routine? A spice blend that you can use on everything from rice to veggies? Or maybe an environmentally-conscious cutting board, that also happens to benefit a good cause? You can find all of that and support Asian American small businesses and brands at the same time.
In light of the recent horrific murders of six Asian women in Atlanta and the ongoing violence against Asian Americans during COVID-19 (which has been part of more than a centuries-long history of discrimination against Asian Americans), this guide celebrates the joy of Asian American food and drinks and the people who make them. While the list is far from exhaustive, these are just some of the brands we encourage you to support now and always.
And if you’re looking for other ways to support, we have some ideas here.
We’re recommending these products because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Our Place’s Always Pan. Founded by Shiza Shahid, who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan at 18, the brand not only has a pan that easily cooks up everything from eggs to more saucy stews, but also sells cute plates if you’re looking to upgrade your dinnerware.
Founded by Stephanie Chen, this set of three microwave dishes is ideal for cooking up fast and delicious meals. We love their salmon and kale poached in coconut milk recipe, which is the ideal weeknight dinner.
Brightland’s olive oils and vinegars are a cult favorite among the food world set and are the brainchild of Aishwarya Iyer, a first generation Indian American. The custom blended oils made with olives from a family-run California farm, while the vinegars use Chardonnay and Zinfandel grapes as well as Navel and Valencia oranges in their ingredients. If you’re not sure where to start, the Essential Capsule has their most popular oils and vinegars in one set.
Red Boat Fish Sauce
Red Boat Fish Sauce was founded by Cuong Pham, a Vietnamese-American and ex-Apple engineer. His fish sauce is made from black anchovies caught and preserved in Phú Quốc, Vietnam, and is the perfect vehicle for adding saltiness and umami to your dishes.
Woon Los Angeles
Fans of the family-run restaurant in Los Angeles, Woon can rejoice: a select number of Mama Fong’s signature dishes now ship nationwide. We can’t get enough of their sea moss-covered peanut snacks, that we discovered via chef and fermentation specialist, Jessica Wang.
These ice creams come in flavors such as makgeolli, matcha, rose-ginger, black sesame, taro, and toasty mochi, among other Asian-inspired flavors that are less often represented in the frozen aisles of chain grocers. And, yes, there are vegan options available.
Thommy’s Toddy Shop
We’re fans of Thom Padanilam, owner of the South Asian condiments brand called Thommy’s Toddy Shop (he recently recommended an apron for our guide). Padanilam’s coco podi is inspired by a coconut chammanthi podi that his parents brought back from Kerala a few years ago. He suggests you can use it traditionally, in dosas or with rice, or try it with eggs, stir fried veggies, and more.
This San Francisco-based, family-owned company was founded in 2010 and has been making kimchi and gochujang. If you’re looking to try them out, you can’t go wrong with the classic napa cabbage style. The brand skips the fish sauce in favor of seaweed, making it vegan-friendly.
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
One of our favorite snacks that we keep coming back to is this mushroom jerky, inspired by a household recipe that founder, Michael Pan discovered when visiting his family in Malaysia, who are vegetarian Buddhists. Nutrient-dense, Pan’s jerky (made from dried shiitakes) can be eaten as is or used as toppings on noodles or salads and the like.
Fly by Jing
While we’ll always be loyal to Lao Gan Ma, one of our favorite new chili crisp brands is Fly by Jing, which is inspired by the flavors of owner Jing Gao’s hometown of Chengdu. Her 100% natural Sichuan chili crisp sauce packs heat, savory notes, and is little numbing, too.
Đèn cầy, which means candle in Vietnamese, is a company making sculptural beeswax designs with a food focus. Set the mood at the dinner table with their youtiao, a Chinese fried dough strip in candle form. Just make sure to remind yourself that it’s not edible!
One Stripe Chai Co.
We’re partial to One Stripe’s take on masala chai, which is based on the version, owner Farah Jesani grew up drinking—it’s made with black tea that’s been blended with cardamom, ginger, and black pepper.
Beloved chef and cookbook author, Sonoko Sakai offers her comforting style of cooking with several products and workshops on her site. We love her interactive curry brick kit, which teaches the basics of making your own Japanese-style curry.
As our Editorial Director, Recommendations Diana Tsui documented last week: Omsom’s sampler kits are more than just quick ways to get a meal going. Their flavorful sauce packets, delicious shortcuts for making dishes like larb or sisig, can also be a way to celebrate “proud, loud Asian home cooking.”
Many people tend to think of rum as mainly being from the Caribbean, but the Philippines also has a thriving industry around the spirit. Add this new, small-batch liquor company to your bar cart.
Founded by Eunice Byun, who is Korean-American, this kitchen brand is about thoughtful pieces intended to last a lifetime. Their cutting board is made from recyclable plastic and renewable sugarcane. If you get this colorway, called To Pó-Po with Love, or their green one, called Reimagine Justice, 50% of profits will go to Heart of Dinner and Drive Change.
One local business we love is Queens superette in San Francisco. If you can’t travel to their market IRL, you can still order their own in-house line of Korean-inspired condiments, seasonings, and more. If you need one item, we highly recommend their umami-filled mushroom salt, which will be your new kitchen favorite.
Nguyen Coffee Supply
Founded by Sahra Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese American, Nguyen Coffee Supply’s bundle pack comes with one bag of organic coffee beans and a phin filter, the Vietnamese brewing tool that is both incredibly easy to use and will make your morning routine infinitely better.
Diaspora Co.’s founder, Sana Javeri Kadri is committed to building a more transparent and ethical spice trade. Her mix-and-match trio pack is a good place for those new to her products, who want to get to try a little bit of everything, be it turmeric, saffron, or cumin.
This newly-launched online grocery offers easy access to Asian goods from a variety of cultures in the form of vegetables, fruits, meats, snacks, and more. For AAPI Heritage month, a portion of sales from all proceeds will be donated to Heart of Dinner and Send Chinatown Love. If you’re looking for an item to add to your cart, we’re fans of this Japanese tonkotsu ramen kit, which includes not just the noodles but also pork belly, nori, and scallions for a complete meal.
This Indian condiment company showcases a range of items from it’s popular tomato achaar to its bottled tikka masala sauce. If you’re feeling cooking fatigue, these will spruce up even the most wilted veggies with nuanced spice.
Swapping out the classic bonito flakes, Dark Horse’s version of furikake seasoning has organic sesame seeds, nori, bee and pine pollen, Sansho pepper, and black lava salt. Put it atop sushi rice, toasts, noodle dishes, and more—you basically can’t go wrong here.
Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen
This small-batch hot chili sambal is made by Auria Abraham, a leader in the growing Malaysian food scene in New York. There is so much flavor packed into her 8 oz jars but note: a little goes a long way if you don’t have a high heat tolerance.
There are so many benefits to eating nattō, the traditional Japanese fermented soybeans. For one, NYrture says it’s the “most concentrated known food source of Vitamin K12,” which promotes bone growth. It’s also an excellent source of probiotics. If you’re still sleeping on nattō, now’s your chance to give Ann Yonetani’s products a go—your microbiome will thank you later.
These refreshing sparkling waters with flavors like calamansi, lychee, and mango are perfect for sipping as is or used as mixers in cocktails.
We’re big fans of hard seltzer around here. Lunar’s version highlights Asian flavors and just in time for AAPI month they’re partnering up with New York-area restaurants and creatives on a special heritage line. The Di An Di one features tamarind and rice paddy herb flavors while the 886 one tastes like a Taiwanese pineapple cake. The last flavor, produced in collaboration with artist Vanessa Nguyen, is mango and chili salt flavored.
Hello Moon Man
Treat yourself to Hello Moon Man’s sampler-pack of its kaya jams—an instant favorite amongst sweettooths. There’s a pandan, ube, and java palm sugar flavor, which are as colorful as they are good for spreading on toast or adding to ice cream.