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(OMG Squee/Instagram)

May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, so if you love boba tea, ramen noodles, bento boxes and kawaii culture, it's time to show the businesses that offer these treats a little extra love.

With the spread of COVID-19, acts of racism and xenophobia have been on the rise all over the world sparking a movement, #StopAsianHate, to combat the violence. In honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, stop by one (or all) of these locally-owned businesses, which make the city more delicious, artistic and diverse.

Café Crème

This family-owned café is looking to create a home-away-from-home, and it is succeeding. A comfortable atmosphere, delicious coffee and tea drinks and a full menu of breakfast, lunch and pastries are what you'll find inside this Vietnamese and French café. The shop's rotating menu reflects the owners' love of experimenting and keeps you guessing every time you come in and the latte art will keep you Instagramming. Café Crème also supports the community by sourcing locally, selling local art, keeping a free library for visitors and even welcomes people coming to work in the shop with a printing station.

Chop Chop

​Thanks to Chop Chop, noodle cups are no longer the safe option for lunch. Bringing authentic street noodles from all over Asia right here to Texas, Chop Chop makes its noodle cups using all-natural, fresh ingredients. Frozen, not freeze-dried like instant noodles, Chop Chop noodle cups are just as fast and completely plant-based. There are four flavors on the menu: Tom Yum, a Thai tomato and lime base; Kimchi Udon, a Korean-style broth with squash toppings; Tokyo Curry, soul food topped with carrots and mushrooms; and Penang Curry, an homage to the many curries of Southeast Asia.

Cookie Wookie Kitchen

You've never had cookies like this. Made using aged cookie dough, Cookie Wookie Kitchen makes cookie creations that delight. While the shop does carry classic flavors like chocolate chip and Texas sheet cookie, what makes this Cookie Wookie unique is the array of Asian American flavors. Ube coconut, black sesame cookies and cream, matcha pistachio and pandan cookies are all staple flavors but there are also three rotating flavors each month. May's special flavors: Thai tea mochi, tropical white chocolate macadamia and maple bacon.

East Side King

A much-celebrated source of Japanese soul food in Austin, East Side King has grown from a food truck to a full-fledged brick and mortar. Brought to you by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya, who formerly worked at upscale sushi restaurants Uchi and Uchiko, the pair wanted to branch out and have fun with the food they were creating. As a result, the restaurant has made Austin's "fun-loving vibe" and fascination with live music central to its personality. All made with high-quality ingredients, Bento boxes, pork buns and red chili wontons are in your future.

Lotus Gallery

Bringing curated antiques from all over Asia to the Lone Star State, Lotus Gallery collects pottery, paintings, sculptures, furnishings and everything in-between. The works are sourced from China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and more, ranging from 206 B.C. to the present. Like most antique shops, picking up one of the pieces will cost a pretty penny but it will transport you back in time every time you see it in your home. You can even visit in person, 1009 West 6th Street.

OMG Squee

​These kawaii sweets are almost too cute to eat. Blending the limitations of an autoimmune disorder with a love of food, kawaii culture and Asian American heritage, OMG Squee makes everything gluten-free (yes, everything), in-house, from scratch. From mochi donuts to taiyaki to boba tea to macarons, everything is made in small batches with ingredients that are better for you and taste like 'the real thing,' so nothing is off the table. Try anything off the menu and you'll "squee," the bakery promises.

West China Tea

Started in 2012 by founder So-Han Fan, West China Tea is introducing the art of the tea ceremony to Austin and bringing people together in the process. The tea house believes that tea unites communities and sources its leaves directly from farms. Experience either self-serve tea, a guided tea session or a traditional tea ceremony when you visit. True lovers of tea can even take classes in Cha Yi and Gong Fu Cha, tea ceremony and tea service respectively, and become certified in the art.


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