By Kristie Hang
May 31, 2022
Five places to eat to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month and beyond.
Food is the cornerstone for many Asian cultures, so what better way to celebrate the end of AAPI Heritage Month?
Los Angeles is one of the foodie capitals of the world. In such a fast-paced and multicultural city, it seems like there are constantly a plethora of restaurants to try. California is home to nearly one-third of the United States’ entire Asian population—which means there is a ton of different and delicious AAPI cuisines to try.
With May designated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we thought it was a perfect time to spotlight five tasty Asian and AAPI restaurants in the City of Angels that you can support for your next meal out!
1. Sáu Can Tho Vietnamese Kitchen
Vietnamese baked catfish from Sáu Can Tho. (Photo credit): Sophia J. Chang
The signature dish at Sáu Can Tho is baked catfish. They marinate a whole catfish in honey, turmeric, oranges, caramelized onions, garlic, and topped with crushed peanuts, fresh cilantro, and scallion oil. The result is a crispy skin outside with tender fall-off-the-bone meat deliciously served alongside rice paper, lettuce, herbs, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, vermicelli noodles, and a secret sweet and tangy tamarind dipping sauce that is a secret family recipe. Catfish sizes come in small, medium, and large, so make sure to order in advance depending on how big your party is.
Chef Sáu put Vietnamese baked catfish on the map way back in 1993. Since then, his family opened Sáu Can Tho in the San Gabriel Valley to continue the tradition with his family recipes. Besides the must-order catfish, Sáu Can Tho also has traditional Vietnamese dishes as well as a more unique section of the menu–exotic meats! Feeling adventurous? Try some crispy battered garlic quails, crispy frog legs, or goat spareribs. Of course, tamer options like shaking beef, egg rolls, Vietnamese omelet, and broken rice are also on the menu. This mom-and-capop shop will make you feel at home and welcomed from the moment you step in the door.
A dish from Kato. (Photo credit): Jeni Afuso
If you have yet to visit Kato at its prior location in West LA, then you definitely should make it a point to visit its new location at ROW DTLA. The Michelin-starred restaurant, helmed by Chef Jon Yao, is one of the most exciting fine dining restaurant experiences at the moment.
The tasting/omakase menu takes about 2.5 hours from start to finish. Each dish is inspired by a combination of Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean food culture. Menu items change frequently, and ingredients are sourced from near and far to create the perfect dish. An example of past dishes are caviar and geoduck; charcoal-grilled A5 wagyu striploin with potatoes, black garlic, and braised tendon; and Santa Barbara uni donut with Iberico ham and brown butter.
The current tasting menu is $225 per person, which is pricey but worth it for a fine dining experience. Reservations are available via Resy and book up quickly once new dates are released.
3. Wagyu House by The X Pot
An array of hot pot options from X Pot.
The X Pot is a collaboration between well-known hot pot restaurant groups, Xiang Tian Xia and Chubby Cattle, and offers a fine dining experience—and a show. The popular new addition to the Rowland Heights area offers premium ingredients such as purebred A5 Wagyu beef flown in daily from Japan and imported fresh seafood. X Pot not only specializes in Wagyu beef, they also have their own ranch from where they source. One Wagyu cow is shipped to this restaurant each day for the freshest cuts of beef possible. The restaurant also has their own ranch from where they source meats.
But as any hot pot lover would know, the meats don’t make the hot pot alone. Equally important is the soup base, and X Pot offers soup bases that are very unique and flavorful. For example, if you order the coconut chicken base, they add actual coconut water to the pot. A couple fan favorites are the House Special Wagyu Special Dripping Pot and the Wagyu tomato oxtail soup. You can even add spice that is shaped into a teddy bear into your hot pot. Additionally, X Pot serves non-hot pot items such as A5 Wagyu sashimi served on a bed of dry ice, beautifully plated along crispy Wagyu meatballs. There’s also Wagyu brisket, fresh-cut ribeye, short rib, and even Wagyu fried rice among a large list of other additions.
There’s also a traditional Beijing Opera performance where diners can enjoy a mask changing performance. X Pot even offers a machine where diners can spray themselves with citrus after the meal, so the hot pot smells don’t linger on them.
Although X Pot is on the higher end, they offer a hot pot membership that runs $38 for a year. The membership gives discounts on food and hot pot soup bases.
4. Spicy BBQ Restaurant
Barbecue pork from Spicy BBQ Restaurant.
Sometimes the most unassuming mom-and-pop restaurants have the tastiest food. Spicy BBQ Restaurant is one of those must-visit restaurants in Thai Town that specializes in Northern Thai food. They are located in an unassuming strip mall with only a few tables inside and are cash only. Although they do have a handful of the typical Thai dishes you’d see at any Thai restaurant, this is the place to explore some lesser-known dishes.
The most famous dish is barbeque pork, which has a nice charcoal flavor and is paired with a smoky, spicy lemongrass sauce. It is perfectly charred while remaining tender and juicy. Other must-order dishes include spicy green chili dip, Northern Thai pork curry, Northern Thai sausage, papaya salad, jackfruit salad, and Tom Kha soup, amongst others.
5. Roots Indian Bistro
Roots Indian Bistro specializes in Northern Indian cuisine.
Roots Indian Bistro is a family-owned restaurant on Melrose Avenue that specialize in Northern Indian food. The seating arrangement is part of the fun. At the entrance you can sit on a pillow, which makes you feel like you’re sharing a meal at home with your family.
Order some unique dishes like paneer masala fries and chicken wings glazed in butter chicken sauce, or go for more traditional items like tikka masala or butter chicken. There’s also a number of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. The Eastside Nachos are fresh nachos “Indian style” that are similar to papdi chaat, which is a popular fried Northern Indian street food. Don’t forget to order a mango lassi and some gulab jamun, aka rose donuts topped with coconut flakes.
Hang & Eat with our food blogger Kristie Hang as she tries out the latest East West food trends. East West Bank serves as a cultural and financial bridge between the U.S. and China.