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.
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.
AAPI Love Taste Bud
This long-sleeve shirt lists over 100 AAPI owned restaurants on it’s back—a love letter to places making delicious food, despite the struggles they’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Show your support for spots like Mei Mei in Boston, Dallas’s Khao Noodle Shop, and Atlanta’s Gu’s Kitchen by wearing it around town. All sales will go to the AAPI Community Fund.
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.
Heart of Dinner
This persimmon tote bag would be perfect for the farmer’s market, grocery store, or future park picnic. But more importantly, the bag raises money for Heart of Dinner, an organization started by the couple, Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang, devoted to servicing NYC’s Asian elder population. Heart of Dinner delivers thousands of culturally sensitive meals to a community that has been especially affected by COVID-19.
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. Stock up on favorites like Mother-in-Law’s napa cabbage kimchi.
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.
If you’re looking for a hard seltzer give Lunar a try. In flavors like lychee, yuzu, or plum, they’re another low alcoholic option to try with your dinner.
Hello Moon Man
Treat yourself to Hello Moon Man’s sampler-pack of its kaya jams—an instant favorite amongst sweet tooths. There’s a pandan, ube, and java palm sugar flavor, which are as colorful as they are insanely good for spreading on toast or adding to ice cream.
We’re recommending these products because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.