The diversity within the Asian community is nearly endless, bringing distinctive foods, music and styles to NYC’s streets
A Guide to Asian Cuisine
Avenue U, located on the border of Sheepshead Bay and Homecrest, is one of the most popular destinations in Brooklyn for Asian groceries.
The blocks between Ocean and Coney Island Avenues make up one of the City’s smallest Chinatowns—though one that is growing quickly.
In recent years, Asian-owned grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants and other small businesses have popped up here and on some side streets to meet an increasing neighborhood demand.
Exploring Asian Culture
Neighborhoods across Queens, such as Flushing and Jackson Heights, may be well-known for their dense Asian populations.
But quickly joining those ranks is one of the borough’s smaller residential pockets: Long Island City.
According to a recent census, the number of residents who identify as Asian and call LIC home has grown five times in number since 2010.
In 2020 alone, more than a dozen new Asian-owned businesses in the neighborhood opened their doors to locals.
Where to explore?
Almost as diverse as New York City itself, Malaysia is represented by a multitude of ethnicities and customs—the country is home to over a hundred different languages, and its history is rooted in dozens of Indigenous tribes. With influences from large Chinese and Indian immigration waves during the country’s British colonization, Malaysian culture today is one that is incredibly rich and uniquely layered.
This might be why—despite being home to the largest Malaysian population in America—New York City has no distinct “Little Malaysia.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a sampling of its Southeast Asian flavors and flair among the streets of the City—so long as you know where to look.
Read on to discover how Japanese culture has had a lasting influence on the City through art, fashion and food.
Japanese migration to New York City began in the 1890s, and by the early 1900s there were about 3,000 Japanese immigrants living in the City.
Communities grew in Lincoln Square, the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, and in 1907, Japan Society, a nonprofit organization to foster culture exchanges between Japan in the US, was founded.
Today, NYC has one of the largest Japanese American populations in the country with over 30,000 Japanese nationals, the majority of whom live in Manhattan.
You can find these traditional dumplings in many forms—fried, boiled or steamed, with or without soup
Dumplings, aka jiaozi, reputedly date back to China’s Eastern Han dynasty, when a medical practitioner boiled dough, stuffed it with warming herbs and distributed the ear-shaped concoction for people to protect their ears from frostbite. They were later dubbed “jiao’er" (er meaning “ear”), and traditionally eaten on the first day of winter.
Eventually a divide developed: northerners ate dumplings with thicker dough, boiled or fried; thinly wrapped hun tun, or wontons, usually consumed in broth, became popular in the south. Both styles are a winter solstice tradition and staples in New York City, where people consume dumplings for on-the-go snacks, appetizers or sometimes full meals.
Dive into this boundless Asian culinary experience
There are nearly 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia, and most, if not all, are represented within New York City’s diverse population.
These communities bring with them their unique traditions and cultures that can be experienced in the five boroughs.
A great way to immerse yourself in the diversity of Asian culture is through food. Can sampling 20 dishes be enough? How about 200 dishes across eight all-you-can-eat Asian restaurants, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and some Asian fusion?
Where to Explore?
Home to the largest community of Filipinos on the East Coast—and, including its metro area, the third largest in the country—New York City is an excellent place to explore a taste of the Philippines (literally).
Strongly bonded by food and family, many Filipinos would agree that to learn about their culture is to eat your way through it. Thankfully, the City has no shortage of mouthwatering dining options.
Start in Woodside, Queens, nicknamed “Little Manila”—more than half the City’s Filipino community resides in the borough, with a heavy concentration in this neighborhood.
Or venture along the east side of Manhattan and into Brooklyn for a mix of trendier cafés and eateries.