Celebrating AAPI month with restaurants, business owners making Philly great

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Monday, May 9, 2022
Celebrating AAPI-owned business, restaurants | FYI Philly May 7
FYI Philly introduces you local small businesses you can support during AAPI heritage month.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Christie Ileto, Nydia Han and Jaclyn Lee host Saturday's FYI Philly with a trip to some of Philly's best businesses to check out during AAPI month.

Chef Sam Chen shares the flavors of Taiwan at Bao Bun Studio

Sam Chen has been a chef for more than 20 years.

His career has taken him from kitchens where he first learned the business in Taiwan and China to Philadelphia where he worked in popular kitchens like Sampan, Susanna Foo and Buddakan.

The chef launched his own business in March of 2020, creating his Bao Bun Studio.

The business launched as a ghost kitchen with take-out and delivery, offering his collection of 10 bao bun flavors.

Among the favorites are the Kung Pao Chicken, Pork Belly and Mongolian Beef. The menu has expanded to include chicken wings and Asian flavored burritos.

Chef works out of building 39 at the Frankford Arsenal. The shared kitchen there is home to 11 chefs with 11 different styles of food.

The space is available to rent for special events with an "arsenal" of chefs available to fill out the menu for your special day.

Every Friday they host a happy hour open to the public from 4-8 p.m. with local brewery Stickman Brews serving beer and Sam's bao buns and other creations from the shared kitchen.

Bao Bun Studio | Facebook | Instagram | BLDG 39

5401 Tacony Street, Philadelphia, PA 19137

Old City's Ikki Japanese offers beautiful sushi dishes

Sushi, Sashimi and signature rolls are all highlights of the Japanese menu at Ikki Japanese Cuisine and Bar in Old City.

The open sushi bar provides guests an opportunity to watch as each roll is carefully cut, rolled and topped.

You can enjoy a sampler like the Ikki Love Boat that includes the ocean rainbow roll with whitefish, tuna, salmon and yellowtail creating a colorful dish.

The Ikki special is a roll fried tempura-style featuring Alaskan king crab, shrimp and avocado.

Or try an appetizer of roasted duck rolled in Singapore flatbread with spring mix, avocado and a balsamic drizzle.

Ikki Japanese Cuisine & Bar | Facebook | Instagram

310 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Revolution Taco turns tables with Mexican-Vietnamese infusion

At Revolution Taco, Chef-Owner Carolyn Nguyen is a classically-trained chef who makes tacos, bowls, burritos and more at her Rittenhouse Square outpost.

Homemade hot sauces, such as the Ancho Curry Mango, are an example of how she likes to combine the flavors of different cultures.

Chef Carolyn's parents are both from Vietnam, but they met and married in the United States and started their family in Louisiana, where Carolyn was raised.

She made Philadelphia her home in 2004, and has worked at restaurants like Fork, Russet, Nectar, Susanna Foo, and White Dog Cafe.

She started her journey as an entrepreneur with food trucks, and now here at her own brick-and-mortar plans to expand service to include dinner and brunch.

Revolution Taco | Facebook | Instagram

2015 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103


Monday-Saturday, 11:00am-8:30pm

Main Street Pho serves up amazing flavor of the Vietnamese Noodle Dish

At Main Street Pho in Manayunk, the restaurant's specialty is in its name.

Owner Charles Dang serves up the traditional Vietnamese noodle dish in a variety of flavors from beef brisket and meatball to shrimp and fish ball.

He makes vegan flavors too, such as vegetable and fried tofu.

In Vietnam, pho is usually served as a breakfast meal.

The origin of pho dates back to Northern Vietnam in the late 1800s, its influence dates back even further. Vietnamese food is often heavily influenced by Chinese and French cuisines.

While pho is the most popular item on the menu, banh mi, chicken wings, and bubble tea are also favorites.

The highly anticipated Bun bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup, is now on the menu as well.

Main Street Pho | Facebook | Instagram

4307 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103


Baker turning over all of her profits to non-profits

By day Pauline (aka PJ) Dziama works as an industrial designer. At night, she hits the kitchen for her side hustle, PJ Bakes.

Baking is her creative outlet after a long day in front of the computer.

The fan favorite is her '"Got Rice?" Crispies'-a cookie rolled in cereal, sprinkled with white chocolate and stuffed with marshmallow. And she's always experimenting with different flavor combinations, like ube jam.

Dziama's mother is Filipino, her paternal grandmother is Ukrainian so a lot of her recipes are Filipino/Ukrainian fusion.

She created what she calls the ideal cookie dough-chewy in the center but the outside is super crispy.

Each week, she develops a menu making both sweet and savory dishes then posts it online for sale.

PJ then donates all the proceeds, handing over 100% of the money to non-profits working on issues of racism or inequities.

She started PJ bakes because she wanted to participate in Bakers Against Racism.

Dubbed the world's largest DIY bake sale, it was formed in June of 2020, inviting bakers of all levels, around the globe, to help raise money for the cause.

PJ answered the call.

She keeps a running list of the non-profits she's supported over the past 2 years: Black Lives Matter, Bake the Vote, Fighting COVID.

Then, when Russia invaded Ukraine, she got a message from her Ukrainian father, "Are you going to bake for us?"

So, she baked for humanitarian aid.

When she heard of a cargo plane loaded with supplies in Northeast Philadelphia that needed money for fuel, she baked for that

Sometimes, she works solo; other times she collaborates with chefs, coffee shops or others in the Philadelphia food industry.

Now the city that seemed so foreign at the start of the pandemic has started to feel like home and PJ says, ""I just don't see any reason to stop."

PJ Bakes | Facebook | Instagram

Bakers Against Racism |Facebook | Instagram

Leta's Baking, Moon Flour Bake Shop highlight rise in online bakeries

Who needs brick and mortar? We take a look at online bakeries born during pandemic with two bakers building their brands on social media.

Zaneta Phean run's online bakery Leta's Baking.

She specializes in custom cakes, especially number and letter cakes, which are top trends. The self-taught baker adorns her creations with an assortment of treats, fresh fruits and goodies.

Zaneta is Thai, Laos, and Cambodian and says she shares her passion and culture through baking.

She combines Asian flavors with French inspired pastries, like a durian crumbrulee fruit tart and a durian puffed pastry.

Samantha Lam is the founder of an online bake shop she calls Moon Flour. She's Chinese and incorporates the moon into her name, which is a significant symbol in Chinese culture.

She started off selling what she calls Ube Crinkles. She also makes a chocolate chip cookie with ube.

But a bigger hit is the chocolate chip cookies that incorporate a black sesame flavor.

Her banana pudding in ube, matcha and pandan flavors is also a hit. She focuses on American favorites, but with an Asian twist.

Sam says she's always loved to bake and with each whisk she hopes to unite the community with her culturally inspired desserts.

Moon Flour Bake Shop | Instagram

Leta's Baking | Instagram

Kayuh is the mobile bicycle shop that will come to you

At Kayuh Bicycles and Cafe shop in Francisville, you can grab a smoothie, sandwich coffee and more.

All while you shop bicycles, bike accessories or wait for your bike to be repaired.

And if you don't want to go to the shop? The shop, with a van outfitted with everything needed to do most repairs, will come to you.

Shop owner Henry Sam started riding bikes about eight years ago, when he was 14. It was a great way to get around.

And because his family grew up in poverty, when the bike needed fixing, he had to fix it himself.

Sam then started buying used bikes on Craigslist, fixing them up and then selling them for a profit.

By the time he was 17, Sam was working as an apprentice at Kayuh.

When the owner moved back to Malaysia, Sam bought the shop.

He took over just a few months before the pandemic. With gyms shut down and people flocking to outdoor workouts, demand was sky high.

But Sam says, people didn't want to go out into the shop. So, he thought, why not start a mobile bike shop?

For Sam , raised by parents who'd fled the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, his rise to entrepreneurship is a point of immense pride. At age 23, he's already making plans to open a second brick and mortar.

Kayuh Bicycle Shop & Cafe | Facebook | Instagram

1900 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130


Samsara Sari gives old saris new life as pillows, dresses, more

The exotic, colorful saris of India are being transformed into new items by Samsara Sari founder-designer Namita Reddy.

The locally based brand is the brainchild of an architect of Indian heritage who wanted to find a way to keep closets full of saris from ending up in landfills.

Reddy receives donated saris, then repurposes them using her designs for things like pillows, dresses, scrunchies, and tutu skirts for girls.

She says it's a way for her to "celebrate the beauty of the sari, and the beauty of India because it has a very rich culture and history".

In Sanskrit, the word 'samsara' translates to 'cycle of rebirth' - the perfect description of Reddy's use of the pre-loved saris, so steeped in the traditions of Indian culture.

Samsara Sari | Shop here | Instagram

BalletX brings world premieres, dance party to Mann Center

BalletX is kicking off its Spring Series at the Mann Center, with several world premieres and big names from the world of contemporary ballet.

Spring Series 2022 will mark BalletX's three-year spring residency.

Choreographer Jennifer Archibald will stage the world premiere of a work set to 'house music.'

The series will also feature award-winning choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and is part of the Mann's Picnic Series.

BalletX | Facebook | Instagram

Spring Series 2022 runs May 18th & May 19th 2022

TD Pavilion at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts

5201 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19131

Part of Mann Picnic Series