Los Angeles

13 Events Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month in LA

You didn't need another excuse to get ramen, noodles, or a new cookbook, but here are 13 good ones anyway.

Photo by Francis Gum, courtesy of Parangal Dance Company
Photo by Francis Gum, courtesy of Parangal Dance Company
Photo by Francis Gum, courtesy of Parangal Dance Company

Here in LA, where we have beloved neighborhoods like Koreatown, Thai Town, Little Tokyo, and Historic Filipinotown, we celebrate AAPI Heritage all year long, with frequent reminders of the countless contributions that these communities have made not just to our city, but also our country and across the globe. That said, we’ll take any opportunity to support our local AAPI communities, and AAPI Heritage Month offers plenty, with a slate of events happening throughout May, ranging from food-focused pop-ups to art exhibitions and more. Rather than be overwhelmed by the options around town, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite events in this convenient guide:

Chinese American Museum
Chinese American Museum
Chinese American Museum

Chinese American Museum AAPI Programming

All Month
Chinese American Museum, Downtown
Downtown’s Chinese American Museum, located in a beautiful brick building that’s part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, will be hosting exhibits and events all month. First on the docket is a walking tour of Chinatown’s murals to pair with their exhibition of Asian-American artists called “Collective Resilience.” Later in the month they will host the first live and in-person piece in their ongoing series “An Untold Past,” a panel discussion about the many Chinatowns throughout LA history.

Japan House Los Angeles
Japan House Los Angeles
Japan House Los Angeles

Ramen Discoveries at Japan House

Weekends starting May 6 through July 31
Japan House, Hollywood
Japan House is always hosting cultural events and exhibitions about Japanese history and cuisine, but May kicks off “Ramen Discoveries,” a series spotlighting seven regional ramen styles over 14 weeks, which pairs perfectly with the hub’s recently launched “Art of the Ramen Bowl” exhibition. The month of May is split between Tokyo-style Miso Ramen from Tsujita Miso no Sho, followed by a rich and pork-driven style by Keika, which comes from Kumamoto on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

Dinas Dumpling
Dinas Dumpling
Dinas Dumpling

Block the Hate Rally + Block Party

Saturday, May 7
Vincent Lugo Park, San Gabriel
Compassion in SGV is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to making sure SGV residents get around safely without threats or harassment, chaperoning locals as they walk to or from transit or close their businesses after dark. On Saturday the 7th, they’re also holding a rally and block party to foster community and engagement in the SGV. There will be lion dancers, music, and speakers. Of course there will be food too, including Indonesian from the Satay Lisa Truck, Dina’s Dumpling, ube crinkle cookies from Butter-Lab, and more.

@ashadrynoodle
@ashadrynoodle
@ashadrynoodle

A-Sha x AAPI-LA Food Truck

Saturday, May 7; Sunday, May 22; and Saturday, May 28
Woodland Hills, Downtown, and Chinatown
Taiwanese company A-Sha makes some of the best and most reliable packaged dry noodles you’ll find on market shelves, but for AAPI Heritage Month they’ve partnered with the city of LA’s AAPI-LA initiative to bring their noodles to the streets in a food truck, which will make several stops around LA throughout the month. The focus is on their air-dried noodles, but they’ll be serving them with all sorts of toppings, including their Hello Kitty collab Chicken Noodle Soup, and some with marinated pork, green onions, and chiles. Catch the truck Saturday, May 7 at the Valley Asian Cultural Festival; Sunday, May 22 at Smorgasburg (more on that below); and Saturday, May 28 at Steep LA for a charity pop-up.

Asian American & Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Day

Saturday, May 21
King Gillette Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains
The National Park Service is taking advantage of the Santa Monica Mountains to host an AAPI Heritage festival at the stunning King Gillette Ranch. The free event will include activities and presentations like Taiko drumming, classic Filipino dancing, Chinese calligraphy, Hawaiian featherwork, and more.

Photo courtesy of OTOTO
Photo courtesy of OTOTO
Photo courtesy of OTOTO

Sake Brewer Block Party

Tuesday, May 10
Ototo, Echo Park
Echo Park sake bar OTOTO is hosting six sake brewers from Japan for its first-ever Brewer Block Party on Tuesday, May 10 from 5:30–7:30 pm. Each brewer will be pouring their best sake, which will be served alongside a selection of snacks including Mini Chicken Katsu Sandos, Gobo Chips, and Curried Crab Salad. One $60 ticket includes pours of up to 12 different bottlings as well as snacks during the two-hour party. Sake bottles will be available for purchase and after the block party, OTOTO will remain open until 10 pm with their regular menu available. The sake breweries featured include Mioya Shuzo, Yamada Shoten, Rihaku, Kawatsuru, Tentaka, and Chiyonosono.

Asian Food Fest
Asian Food Fest
Asian Food Fest

Asian Pacific Food Fest

Saturday, May 14
South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
Orange County’s luxury mall South Coast Plaza is hosting an Asian Pacific food festival, featuring six different stations of food from AAPI-owned restaurants in the mall. Serving food will be AnQi Bistro, Hamamori Sushi, Royal Khyber, Tableau Kitchen, Terrace by Mix Mix, and Wahoo’s Fish Taco. A $30 ticket gets you five tastes to go along with some live performances by local AAPI artists, and all proceeds benefit the Asian Pacific Community Fund.

@riceboxla
@riceboxla
@riceboxla

Mahjong Night at RiceBox featuring Vervet and Go Cakes

Saturday, May 14
RiceBox, Downtown LA
RiceBox is dedicated to serving and celebrating classic Cantonese barbecue, and for AAPI Heritage Month they’re celebrating the classic Chinese game Mahjong. They’re also bringing in fellow Asian-American-owned businesses Vervet and Go Cakes, so there will be artisanal cocktails and ornate desserts like Praline Bon Bons too. The Mahjong sets have been custom made for RiceBox, chefs Leo and Lydia Lee will debut some new RiceBox specials, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Stop AAPI Hate coalition.

The LAArtBox
The LAArtBox
The LAArtBox

Belonging: A Filipino Arts & Culture Experience at The LA Art Box

Opening Friday, May 20, through Sunday, June 26
LAAB/West Hollywood
The Filipino art and culture community is strong and diverse, covering every discipline and representing so many unique experiences both in the US and in the Philippines. The West Hollywood cultural space The LA Art Box-The LAAB for short-has partnered with San Francisco-based Parangal Dance Company, an organization focused on the preservation of Philippine culture through dance and education, to put on a new show called “Belonging.” The show will feature photographs of Parangal members performing traditional dances from the six indigenous peoples of the Philippines, and it will also highlight eight contemporary Filipino-American artists from many disciplines. There will be exhibits of music, film production, fashion, food, and more, to build a whole multisensory experience, a celebration of Philippine culture past, present, and future.

Pan-Asian Pacific Arts & Cultural Festival

Sunday, May 22
The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, Northridge
Deep in the Valley, the SFV Museum is reintroducing their live events with an AAPI Cultural Festival. There will be food trucks, vendors, art workshops for kids, and onstage entertainment in addition to the ability to tour the museum itself. In the evening, there will also be a free screening of “A Shot Through The Wall,” a film by Aimee Long, with a community discussion to follow. The event is free, but tickets are required for the film.

Now Serving
Now Serving
Now Serving

Browse Now Serving’s AAPI collection & forthcoming events

All month
The best cookbook store in LA stocks a fantastic selection from Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander authors, and for the month of May they’ve collected their favorites in one convenient collection. They have books from LA-based chefs like Alvin Cailan, Margarita Manzke, Kris Yenbamroong, and Sonoko Sakai, among others. Now Serving’s owners Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungcal, Filipino American themselves, put on some of the best events around, and they will be adding them to the calendar all month.

@aquariumpacific
@aquariumpacific
@aquariumpacific

Pacific Islander Festival at Aquarium of the Pacific

Saturday, June 4–Sunday, June 5
Aquarium of the Pacific/Long Beach
This event misses the end of the month by a few days, but it’s just more proof that Angelenos don’t need a hard deadline to celebrate AAPI heritage, culture, and cuisine. The Pacific Islander Festival is returning to Aquarium of the Pacific for its 19th year, after going virtual for the last couple of iterations. Details are still being finalized, but previous years have included music and dance, educational talks, demonstrations, and food from Pacific Island cultures including Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, Chamorro, Marshallese, and Maori cuisines.

AAPI LA Market at Smorgasburg

Sunday, May 22
Smorgasburg/Downtown LA
There is no shortage of AAPI vendors on a regular Sunday at Downtown’s Smorgasburg pop-up market, but on May 22, there will be a whole lot more of them. AAPI-LA is bringing a ton of vendors serving things like sushi, dumplings, and mochi donuts, as well as packaged snacks, sauces, and drinks. There will also be another appearance by the A-Sha Noodle truck, and collaborations with vendors like Saucy Chick, along with other fun stuff.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Ben Mesirow is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The LA TimesLitroMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyLos Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.

Los Angeles

Marcus Scribner's Day Off in Crenshaw, LA Is a Tour of BBQ, Fried Chicken & Soul Food

The ‘Blackish' actor takes us to his favorite restaurants in his hometown of Crenshaw.

Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube
Thrillist/YouTube

Without tooting his own horn, Marcus Scribner likes to say that Los Angeles made him into a well-rounded human being. It’s all thanks to the city’s diverse mix of experiences, people, and culture.

“What I love most about LA is I feel like we have so many different biomes and people from different backgrounds,” the Blackish actor said in a recent interview with Thrillist. “I would just hop all around town all the time and get all those different experiences.”

Crenshaw, though, holds a special place in Scribner’s heart. It’s kind of like an oasis of peace and community for him. “It’s still a predominantly Black neighbourhood,” he explained. “Which is pretty dope to see in the centre of Los Angeles.” His dad used to say that getting into the neighbourhood feels peaceful and quiet, but as soon as you step out, it’s like, “Welcome to the jungle!”

Besides the tight-knit community, there’s another main thread in Scribner’s Crenshaw: fried chicken. While guiding us to the discovery of his neighbourhood in our series “Ride With Me,” Scribner realized that every single spot he took us to offers really good fried chicken. “It says something about me, I think,” he said. Scribner knows all the best fried chicken spots around town, and we’re definitely here for it.

The best breakfast spot in the world, Los Angeles staple chicken and waffle joints that even President Obama goes to, and delicious, Black-owned soul food restaurants are only some of the many Crenshaw gems Scribner shares with us.

Get ready to taste the best soul food LA has to offer. We’re going to Crenshaw.

Places to Eat & Drink

Jacks N Joe
Scribner doesn’t care what anyone else says, this is the best breakfast spot “on planet Earth.”

According to Scribner, their pancakes are amazing, and they come with maple butter syrup. But his favourite dish is the hash browns. “You can get the hash browns extra well done,” he suggested. “It’s over, it’s over. You’re having the best meal of your life.”

Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles
President Obama stole Scribner’s special here-or at least that’s what Scribner will tell you.

“I’ve been ordering that, [and] all of a sudden they changed it to Obama Special when he popped out the cut,” Scribner said. No disrespect to Obama, but Scribner’s order has always been the Obama Special, which includes three wings with a waffle (or potato salad or fries). Scribner just adds an extra waffle to the mix, and that’s his all-time favourite order.

Phillips Barbecue
Scribner is aware he’ll get a lot of flack for saying this, but that’s okay. “Phillips Barbecue is hands down my favourite barbecue location,” he said.

“The meats are pretty good quality and the meats themselves are delicious and I love them,” he explained. “But it’s the sides and the sauce that just hit.” Their baked beans and macaroni salad are incredible, and you should put them right on your barbecue sandwich.

Just be careful: Their sauces are spicy, and the highest level is just too hot according to Scribner. His advice? Get the mixed sauce, and you’ll receive mild and hot together.

Alta Adams
This Black-owned soul food restaurant looks amazing, and it tastes even better. The setting is high-end, and their dishes are authentic soul food. They have “the best fried chicken,” according to Scribner.

“I like it because the chicken is moist, but it’s not too moist,” he explained. “This is some real chicken, which has some good moisture and the skin is perfect.” If you’re not in the mood for chicken, their oxtails are also a great choice. You shouldn’t miss out on the cornbread, either.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
This place is so good that it started in Tennessee and eventually expanded into LA.

“It’s just the bomb,” said Scribner. “The fried chicken is so good and spicy, which I love.” Their collard greens and baked beans are both must-trys as well, and Scribner would be the one to know. “I love baked beans,” he said. “I used to just eat straight up Bush’s baked beans out of the can, bruh. I’m wilding. I’m about that life.”

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Tiana Attride is a former associate editor at Thrillist. She cares a little too much about the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack.

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