by Kristina Rivera
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and it’s time to celebrate.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen local businesses scramble and adapt to the ever-changing conditions around them, with recent research showing Asian-owned small businesses have been disproportionately affected. But, despite this, we’ve also seen countless local businesses step up in so many ways to help the communities around them.
And we at Intentionalist think that’s a cause for celebration.
We believe AAPI Heritage Month isn’t just about supporting the AAPI-owned businesses in our neighborhoods — it’s about celebrating them and all the character, culture, and vitality they bring to our communities.
To kick off AAPI Heritage Month, here are three businesses you can support:
If you’re familiar with Seattle’s Filipino food scene, Musang in Beacon Hill needs no introduction — but we’ll give you one anyway. Musang (which means wild cat in Tagalog) is a community-focused restaurant started by Filipina-American chef Melissa Miranda. Melissa opened Musang as a venue to share Filipino food and culture with the broader Seattle community. Walking into Musang feels like you’re walking into a home in the Philippines where everyone is welcome, which is a message that guides how the restaurant operates. In addition to being a place where they welcome and feed guests, their dining room and kitchen is also where Musang operates its Community Kitchen — a program they started during the pandemic that provides food for those in need and relief for hospitality workers impacted by COVID-19. Above all, Melissa is a champion for her community first and a chef second.
Musang serves Filipino-inspired dishes, like short rib kare kare and pancit canton. Melissa’s favorite dish at Musang at the moment is the daing na rainbow trout — a whole smoked trout featured on the restaurant’s spring menu that’s both fun to make and eat.
“Musang is located in Beacon Hill, which is the neighborhood my father came to when he first came to the United States from the Philippines. Over the years, I’ve seen this place change and grow, and I’ve always connected to the heart of this neighborhood, which is a home for so many immigrants and communities of color. The businesses in this area are such a great representation of Seattle’s multicultural history.”—Melissa Miranda
Donuts, teriyaki, and Thai food (and for a while, laundry!) is the combination you didn’t know you needed, and you can find it all at King Donuts, which has been a Rainier Beach staple for decades. Hong Chhuor and his family took over the delightfully eccentric shop from its original owners in 2017. Donuts have always been a part of the family’s history — after fleeing the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s, Hong’s parents came to Los Angeles as Chinese refugees from Cambodia where they helped operate a donut shop. They joined the legacy of donut shops in Southern California owned by Cambodian refugees and eventually went on to run their own for a number of years in East Texas. A true family-owned joint, Hong handles the front counter and the operations side, while his mom, Kim Sok, cooks all the dishes from the grill and his brother Travis Chhuor works his magic making the donuts. Since taking over King Donuts, Hong and his family have worked hard to maintain the business’s role as the vital community space and resource it’s always been.
A fan of the classics, Hong’s favorite donut at King Donuts is the cinnamon twist. And if you’re looking for something savory, he recommends the pad see ew (which Kim puts her own spin on, making it reminiscent of a Chinese stir-fried noodle dish) with beef and shrimp.
“This past year has been really hard for us, just like it has been for a lot of small businesses — restaurants in particular because of all the restrictions. And I can’t tell you how many days where I just am overwhelmed with all the people who have come out, to not just buy donuts because that’s how we keep the doors open, but it’s also all the words of encouragement, all the ways in which they’ve organized themselves without our asking to just ensure that we stay and that we continue to serve in the capacity that we have.”—Hong Chhuor
Chuck’s Hop Shop
Chuck Shin opened Chuck’s Hop Shop in Greenwood in 2010 when he first became a father. All he wanted was a place where he could enjoy a good beer while spending time with his family. When Chuck, who is of Korean descent, couldn’t find what he was looking for, he created his own space and introduced Seattle to the concept of a beer shop that’s fun for the whole family. At Chuck’s Hop Shop, adults can savor an ice-cold beer while their children enjoy Full Tilt ice cream and a variety of food trucks parked there daily. In 2015, Chuck opened a second location in the Central District that’s been a go-to neighborhood hangout spot ever since. Chuck believes sharing a beer is one of the easiest ways for people to bond and connect, so he modeled his business as a community gathering space.
Chuck’s Hop Shop is currently open by reservation only and offers about 50 beers on tap and over 1,000 bottles of beer and cider. Chuck loves sour beer and classic Northwest-style IPAs, and recommends trying anything from Cloudburst Brewing and the sour beers from Holy Mountain Brewing.
“I think that small businesses, especially unique ones, make your neighborhood interesting to live in. Without those smaller guys, you’ll have chain or box stores everywhere, and it would be no different to live in Ballard or Sandwood or Tacoma. Small shops [are built] on the flavors of the people who live there, and small shops mature along with the people in the neighborhood. We adapt to what our neighborhood wants from us.”—Chuck Shin
Kristina Rivera is the marketing and communications coordinator at Intentionalist. She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in journalism and public relations and has worked with organizations ranging from local nonprofits to global PR firms.
📸 Featured Image: Daing na rainbow trout, a whole-smoked trout dish, from Musang’s new spring menu. Photo courtesy of Musang.
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