FYI Philly celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

6abc Digital Staff Image
Monday, May 8, 2023
FYI Philly celebrates Philadelphia's AAPI community
Nydia Han and Christie Illeto host FYI Philly's celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Nydia Han and Christie Illeto host FYI Philly's celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cambodian restaurant Mawn offers noodles with no rules

Phila Lorn and his wife Rachel have opened Mawn, the couple's first restaurant.

The 28-seat BYO fills the space once occupied by Kalaya along the iconic 9th Street corridor near the Italian Market.

Phila and his wife have created a menu featuring a noodle bar that is open to the dining area.

There is a variety of options, including a chicken noodle inspired by Rachel's father.

There are Asian influences that are products of Phila's Cambodian background and career cooking in Philadelphia.

He makes a Cambodian soup that his mom made and uses it to dress Littleneck clams.

The couple hopes to bring a "mom and pop" type shop to t

he neighborhood with a collection of recipes that reflect the couple's Philadelphia story and family influence.

Mawn | Facebook | Instagram

764 South 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Jojo's Cafe is a new spot for Vietnamese coffee, Bánh m and desserts

At Jojo's Cafe on West Passyunk Avenue, you can get nearly a dozen varieties of Bánh mi -- from the signature with pork, ham and liver pate; to tofu, chicken or Vietnamese pork BBQ lemongrass.

Along with the sandwiches, owner Jojo Tran makes traditional Vietnamese appetizers, like spring and summer rolls, and a homemade beef stew slow cooked in a pressure cooker.

Tran says it's so juicy and tender, it transports people back to their hometown and mom's cooking.

Tran was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City. She came to the United States with her younger sister in 2005 because, she says, there are not a lot of opportunities in Vietnam for women.

She went back to high school to learn English and then got a bachelor's degree from Temple University in finance and management information systems (MIS).

While working from home during the pandemic, she started cooking more and got rave reviews from family and friends who encouraged her to open a restaurant.

She opened Jojo's Cafe last fall, making everything from scratch. That includes desserts, like sticky rice with black-eyed peas called Che Dau Trang and sticky rice with corn, known as Che bap. The Banh bo is a sweet, salty and savory treat, made with steamed rice cakes and a coconut sauce.

Jojo's Cafe is part Vietnamese market with everything from rice snacks and jackfruit chips to ginger candy and an herbal concoction Tran calls the beauty drink.

She makes smoothies too, and she's known for her sugar cane drinks and her Vietnamese coffee-a four bean blend, served cold brew style with hazelnut cream rather than condensed milk to make it healthier.

Her goal is to have customers feel like they're walking into their own kitchen.

And though she's still working full-time for the gas company, Tran is already making plans to open an authentic Vietnamese restaurant within the next two years.

Jojo's Cafe | Website | Facebook | Instagram

1245 W. Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19145


Soup dumplings, robot servers makes Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao a must-try

At Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings are the star of the menu and robots are the star of the dining room.

In an open kitchen just off the main dining area, you can see an assembly line of chefs preparing the soup dumplings.

And the robots have been a big hit delivering food tableside.

Each flavor comes in a different color shell with fillings that include pork, shrimp, scallop, truffle and crab.

The menu expands beyond dumplings, featuring mostly Northern Chinese cuisine. The beverage menu includes a collection of handcrafted teas.

This is the first location for Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao outside of New York.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao | Facebook | Instagram

901 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Bangladeshi couple creates cozy spot for Indian cuisine

In the heart of Rittenhouse, The Royal Indian Cuisine serves up traditional dishes in a small space with a big menu.

Husband and wife owners Mahammad Ikbal and Miss Parven met in their home country of Bangladesh, and opened the restaurant after the rise of Uber brought an end to Mahammad's taxi business.

The couple also keeps their cultural connection strong by partnering on a new spot in Upper Darby, named after Dhaka - the capitol of Bangladesh.

The Royal Indian Cuisine | Facebook | Instagram

272 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103


11am-10:30pm, closed Tuesdays

Dhaka Club

8925 West Chester Pike, Upper Darby, PA 19082


MRI Trauma tech discovers gift for art using reclaimed wood

Inside NextFab North in Kensington, Omar Buenaventura is transforming reclaimed wood and turning it into works of art.

Omar is a self-taught artist and MRI technician who started creating art in 2020 when the pandemic was raging and he was in between jobs.

He and his wife, Nicky Uy, formed a collective called Bahay215 as a way to connect with fellow Filipinos in Philadelphia.

Nicky is an artist and seed keeper. They've created seed libraries to keep hard to find seeds that are important to Filipino culture alive and thriving.

The seed libraries are located at the Asian Arts Initiative and VietLead, and visitors of all cultures are invited to swap seeds.

Omar and Nicky met in Philadelphia but both grew up in the Philippines.

Omar's last name, Buenaventura, is Spanish for good fortune, a reminder of the conquering of the Philippines by Spain in 1521.

He considers his art an act of resistance against colonialism, and many of the works are inspired by the grandparents who raised him.

His art stands are often old sewing machines that he finds in the trash.

He upcycles bamboo too, and he stains his woods with all-natural ingredients like beet juice for red, turmeric for yellow and black walnut.

Omar has a residency at the DaVinci Art Alliance in Queen Village and an exhibition that just wrapped there is now on view at NextFab.

You can also see a honeycomb piece he made from wood from an old fire tower on display at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Omar Buenaventura: Bahay215 | Instagram | Facebook

NextFab North

1800 N. American Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122

VietLead | Facebook | Instagram

320 W. Oregon Ave, Philadelphia, Pa 191480


Asian Arts Initiative | Facebook | Instagram

1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107


Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education | Facebook | Instagram

8480 Hagy's Mill Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19128

New Grounds for Sculpture exhibit puts local Indian voices on display

Now through January 2024, "Local Voices - Memories, Stories, and Portraits" is on display in a gallery at Grounds For Sculpture, a unique sculpture garden near Trenton.

Lead artist Madhusmita Bora, co-founder of the classical Indian 'Sattriya Dance Company', helped 15 people from New Jersey's Indian diasporic community tell their stories around the themes of love, loss, and resilience.

Through a combination of photos, objects, and video clips, visitors can experience chapters in the lives of the storytellers, told in their own words.

Grounds for Sculpture | Facebook | Instagram

80 Sculptors Way, Trenton, NJ 08619


Penn's Pan-Asian dance troupe brings representation through dance

University of Pennsylvania's Pan-Asian Dance Troupe blazes the stage with authentic cultural performances.

The student choreographers create a blend of traditionally inspired movements combined with modern flow.

Dancers draw inspiration from a variety of backgrounds, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Thai influences.

"To us, it represents our roots. And it represents the strength of our community as a whole" said Artistic Director, Bonnie Chen.

The group's rehearsals create a safe environment where students can express their culture through their shared hobby of dance.

"Being able to kind of experience my culture in this new way is very exciting ... it feels more of like, a part of my life," said Angelina Yu, President of Pan-Asian Dance Troupe.

Dances incorporate props such as flutes, fans and water sleeves as well as costumes to fully capture the essence of the culture.

Rehearsals lead up to an annual show in February, along with various events in between, and a new troupe is ushered in each fall.

Sally Song of Dim Sum Garden is the new chef-in-residence at Volvér

Sally Song, chef and owner of Chinatown's Dim Sum Garden, is the newest chef-in-residence at Volvér Restaurant inside the Kimmel Center.

Dim Sum Garden, which opened in 2013, specializes in Shanghai-style cuisine with dishes like curry chicken, scallion pancakes, black pepper steak with rice and hand-drawn noodles and handmade dumplings.

There's mango tapioca on the menu for dessert and the Jose Garces team at Volvér created two cocktails to pair with Sally's menu, a vodka-based Kiwi Bliss and Dragon's Fizz made with gin, dragon fruit and grapefruit soda.

Sally Song opened Dim Sum Garden with her mother, who is the fifth generation descendant of the original chef who created the very first Chinese steamed pork soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao) in China. Sally is the sixth generation.

Mom and daughter plan to use money earned during the residency to expand, moving the restaurant to a bigger location two doors away on Race Street that is currently undergoing renovations.

During the pandemic, they started selling nearly 20 varieties of their dumplings for people to make at home. You can order online and Sally says the food will arrive at your house within the hour.

Sally Song's residency runs through June 4th

Volvér at the Kimmel Center

300 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19102


To support Song, you can donate during your meal at Volvér or online at:

Garces will match patrons' donations, dollars for dollar, up to $5,000.

Dim Sum Garden | Facebook | Instagram

1020 Race Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107