As much as the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the restaurant industry, it has also sparked an influx in discrimination and xenophobia towards those of Asian descent. The past year has seen Asian individuals attacked both verbally and physically, as well as their businesses boycotted and vandalized. Due to this, Asian-owned restaurants have suffered and struggled to protect their future in our communities.
One of the easiest ways you can support the AAPI community is by visiting and enjoying their restaurants. Indianapolis offers a wide selection of Asian cuisine ranging from Indian to Japanese to Korean. Join the Indy region in supporting this community as allies and customers. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spots for your next meal.
1. MAMA’S KOREAN
The authentic Korean cuisine of Mama’s has been passed down through many generations straight to your plate. Altogether, Mama’s has been open for over 30 years, providing the Indy community with memorable meals and traditional foods. The Korean BBQ experience is unlike any other dining experience, and it’s a perfect activity for a group of people to enjoy together. All the specialty BBQ meals are prepared over an open flame right at your table. You can also order hot pots and watch your food cook right on your plate!
Must try: Kahl-Bee BBQ for the table. Pro tip: don’t shy away from the banchan (small side dishes). They’re free with the meal and delicious!
Asaka is a Japanese restaurant owned by a family from Kumamoto, Japan. They serve authentic, traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi. And check out their happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for sushi on a budget! Perfect for the younger crowd, you can even place your order ahead of time by DMing their Instagram account with your order. (Yes, you heard that right! You can get high-quality sushi from sliding into their DMs.) Just make sure to secure a reservation ahead of time if you’re going during peak hours because this beloved spot gets full fast!
Must try: The Asaka Ramen is a go-to, but hit up their Instagram for daily specials and deals!
Sakura has been a fan favorite in the Indianapolis area since 1986. Fans are so loyal that the restaurant even developed a “Sakura VIP” program for regulars. They specialize in noodle- and rice-based Japanese dishes as well as sushi, and they pride themselves on their friendly service and loyal staff. So, you’re in for a welcoming environment if you stop by here for a meal!
Must try: Sukiyaki—a traditional Japanese dish that consists of noodles, veggies, broth, and rice. It can be difficult to find places that even serve this dish, and Sakura’s version hits the spot!
Few things in life are better than a warm bowl of ramen and a glass of boba tea. Lucky for us, Yujo specializes in both! Their staff is even trained to work with you to figure out which of their ramen and boba tea options you will most enjoy! The owner, Paul Yu, attended the Tokyo Ramen Academy in Japan and brings his traditional and authentic methods right here to Indianapolis. They say their secret is the perfect balance and synergy between the five essential elements of ramen: broth, tare, oils, toppings, and noodles. Check them out and find your perfect pairing.
Must try: Don’t ask us… Ask one of the staff members trained to figure it out for you!
5. TEGRY BISTRO
Tegry Bistro combines traditional Asian cuisine with modern techniques to create a fresh and unique dining experience. The restaurant’s pristine interior gives guests a night to remember, and their innovative dishes taste like luxury while still maintaining a reasonable price tag. Tegry is an unbeatable spot for a dine-in experience that’ll trigger your tastebuds.
Must try: Crunch Spicy Tuna Roll. This one is a picture-perfect fan favorite. I have dreams about this roll.
6. INDIA GARDEN
India Garden is known for its modern interpretation of classic Indian dishes. You can choose from a variety of different dishes with an emphasis on spice and flavor. The key is to order multiple entrees for the table and share it family style. The garlic naan pairs beautifully with essentially any entree you load onto your plate, and you’ll likely find yourself coming back for more!
Must try: Chicken Curry. Just choose your spice level wisely, folks.
7. CHAO VIETNAMESE
Chao brings you the best of the best of Vietnamese street food… minus actually being on a street in Vietnam. Instead, they’re bringing these authentic flavors right to our home in Indiana. The owners have traveled the world and eaten at five-star restaurants, but they realized that their favorite meal was always the cheap street food they got back in their hometown in Vietnam.
Must try: Pork Banh Mi. This flavor-packed sandwich is a Vietnamese street food staple. Close your eyes tight enough, and you might even feel like you’re there!
8. BODHI THAI
Who doesn’t want a craft cocktail with their pad thai? Bodhi Thai is just as much an expert in drinks as it is in Thai food! Three generations of Thai women own this restaurant, passing down the grandmother’s family recipes. Meanwhile, the younger generations help create their delicious cocktails with a Thai twist. The family works together in the kitchen every day, concocting new dishes and drinks while staying true to authentic methods and flavors. But be warned: if you’re looking to dine-in, this restaurant is a 21 and over establishment!
Must try: Thai Iced Tea Cocktail with bourbon, rye, spiced ginger liqueur, demerara sugar, orange peel, and housemade Thai iced tea. Yum!
9. MEET NOODLES
Meet Noodles is a casual, relaxed spot for friends to gather and enjoy noodle-based entrees. While the head chef spent 20 years of his career cooking in China, he does not consider his menu typical Chinese cuisine. Instead, his food is crafted with a blend of influences from China, Japan, Vietnam, and all over Asia. Most impressively, the restaurant’s hand-pulled noodles are made from scratch in-house every single day!
Must try: Meet Noodles’ Signature Beef La Mian. They don’t call it ‘signature’ for nothing.
10. SHALIMAR INDIAN RESTAURANT
Shalimar is a family-owned restaurant that has been operating since 1994 and boasts high-quality dishes inspired by Northern Indian cuisine. Their rich spices and aromas take center stage at this spot, transporting customers across the world to a traditional Indian meal. The menu here is highly customizable for your spice tolerance, although we encourage you to challenge yourself to some legit Indian heat.
Must try: Vegetable samosas. No entree dish is complete without a pile of these on the side—trust us!
If you enjoy any of these spots, be sure to share with your friends! It’s important to show love and support for Asian communities, just like we do for their food. Consider donating or check out more resources on supporting the AAPI community here.
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