Sado on The Hill specializes in sushi, nigiri and sashimi.

How to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in St. Louis

Wednesday May 8, 2024

By Rachel Huffman

The month of May is a special time to amplify and celebrate the important role that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in our shared history.

In St. Louis, attending Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the most enticing – and the most exciting – ways to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. On May 18 and 19, the Garden will come to life with Chinese pageantry, music, dance and art. At the event, you can also immerse yourself in the history and legends of China while savoring traditional cuisine.

To experience other flavors from local Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, snag a seat at one of these delicious eateries:

Fork & Stix, a casual Thai restaurant in the Delmar Loop, serves the best khao soi in town. It also specializes in dishes from the Northeast region of Thailand – think som tum, a salad made from shredded green papaya, and khao niao mamuang, a luscious seasonal dessert prepared with steamed sticky rice, fresh mango, sweetened coconut milk and palm sugar.

At Indo, chef Nick Bognar melds Thai flavors and Japanese techniques to honor his family’s heritage and create magic in the kitchen. Hamachi crudo, palm sugar ribs, shrimp toast, crab fried rice, lamb tartare – every flavor tells a story. “We want you to have a party on your table with all the things hitting,” Bognar enthuses. “That gets you in the mood to keep ordering and having fun. It makes me happy to see everyone having fun.”

Using fresh ingredients to create complex Asian flavors, Kimchi Guys will delight your taste buds with classic dishes – think tteokbokki, bibimbap and Korean fried chicken any way you want it.

Slurping is encouraged at Nudo House. Alongside spicy kimchi, aromatic pho and comforting bánh mì, the restaurant dishes out steaming bowls of rich ramen. Since its inception, chef-owner Qui Tran has refined the menu, and today, one of the most popular noodle dishes is Shroomed Out, featuring mushroom broth, king oyster mushrooms, bok choy, menma (bamboo shoots), Ajitsuke Tamago (ramen egg) and black garlic.

Poke bowls are the star of the menu at PokeDoke, as evidenced by its name. Build your own bowl with ingredients such as rice or noodles, spicy tuna or tofu, avocado, edamame, kimchi, mango and seaweed.

Another curated concept from Nick Bognar, Sado offers impeccable sushi, nigiri and sashimi on The Hill. Don’t sleep on the madai (clean, bright, citrusy sea bream), masu (mild, slightly sweet ocean trout) and sake toro (fatty, oily, bold salmon belly). Although raw fish is the main draw, we encourage you to diversify your table with a miso-ginger salad, Japanese pumpkin doused in green curry sauce, black tiger prawn tempura and salmon yaki.

A central mural, cultural masks and wooden crafts set the scene at Sen Thai in downtown St. Louis. The restaurant, menu and staff capture the essence of Thailand, including the country’s spiritual devotion, kind people and spicy food. The menu is extensive – and everything is tasty – so you should be able to satisfy any craving.

Other St. Louis residents, including Min Jung Kim of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Lars Nootbaar of the St. Louis Cardinals and Fionna Gemzon of None of the Above, are leaving their mark on St. Louis. Digging into their stories and enjoying their curated experiences is a wonderful way to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

If you find yourself in Forest Park, we recommend visiting the refreshed and revamped 1904 World’s Fair exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, as well. To paint a complete picture of the historic event, the Missouri Historical Society has delved into the Filipino experience, among other wonderful yet complex aspects of the fair.

Throughout the month, St. Louis County Library will also host more than 70 programs for all ages, including art events, film discussions and cooking demonstrations. You can learn to make vegetarian sushi rolls, watch Kung Fu Panda, craft paper lanterns, play K-pop music video bingo, paint The Great Wave off Kanagawa, play Hanafuda, try bubble tea, practice origami and more.

We hope that these ideas inspire you to connect with St. Louis’ historical and cultural narrative, which has been influenced by the world.