Discover The Stories Behind These Exceptional Products
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month—a great time to add more globally inspired flavors to your weekly menu. The designation was originally created to honor the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in May 1843, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 by a large population of Chinese immigrants. Celebrate the diverse cultures—and cuisines—of AAPI communities with these Asian-inspired ingredients.
A childhood spent in Singapore—where a melting pot of Asian cultures was reflected at the outdoor food markets—inspired a love of cooking and cuisine for Nona Lim. After she moved to California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she sought out ways to recreate the Asian street food dishes of her youth using only clean, whole foods—no artificial ingredients, preservatives or large amounts of sodium. Today, her self-named company has grown from local to nationwide status. Her small-batch noodles, broths and sauces are slow-simmered with fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. They make adding authentic Asian flavors to your diet a snap.
Justin Gill always dreamed of bringing his family’s sauce to market. When he finally did in 2019, he named the company for his Bachan— which means “granny” in Japanese. The recipe for her umamiflavored, teriyaki-like sauce had been passed down for generations and was a hit during the holidays when the family would hand it out to customers of their landscaping business. To stay true to the original recipe, Bachan’s is made in small batches and cold-filled, which eliminates the need for additives, preservatives or flavorings. It’s made using real mirin, a staple in traditional Japanese sauces, along with organic, non-GMO ingredients.
Named for the Thai word for “grandmother,” Yai’s Thai was cofounded by Leland Copenhagen and Sarah Hughes. Their shared passion for changing peoples’ perceptions of healthy eating led them to create this better-for-you line of sauces and curries that don’t compromise on flavor. Because of Leland’s Thai heritage, the pair already had experience with Thai food, so they started experimenting in their kitchen—with plenty of over-the-phone help from Leland’s mom. Today, their paleo-friendly, gluten-free, vegan and low-sodium products make it easy to enjoy Thai food at home, no matter your dietary preferences or cooking skills.
Korean American sisters Ann and Janet Chung started their own business bottling their family’s barbecue sauce recipes. Crafted in small batches with all-natural, vegan ingredients, their tasty creations can be used as cooking sauces, barbecue sauces or marinades. Their original Korean barbecue sauce combines the umami flavor of gluten-free soy sauce with the sweetness of apple and the nuttiness of sesame. The award-winning spicy version is full of bold flavor, with the perfect balance of sweet heat. The Chung sisters also work to support survivors of human trafficking through donations and educational programs.
Now the founder and CEO of Hodo Foods, Vietnamese refugee Minh Tsai started out by making the organic, artisan foods he grew up eating in Vietnam but had trouble finding in the United States. He began selling his creations at a farmers market stand in the Bay Area nearly 20 years ago. Today, his company makes easy-to-prepare plant-based foods from tofu to vegan scrambled eggs.
Founded in late 1991, Worldwide Orchids was able to grow quickly after Hurricane Andrew decimated nearly all the private and commercial orchid growers in south Florida in 1992. Today, the company has nearly 300,000 square feet of greenhouse space at three locations near Orlando. Their easy-to-grow, long-lasting orchids are sold at stores across the country, including The Fresh Market.
As a child and as a young adult pursuing a successful modeling career, Grace Cheng relied on oatmeal as her go-to comfort food. Inspired by her entrepreneurial parents, Cheng decided she wanted to share her love for oatmeal and her belief in the healing benefits of whole foods, so she founded Mylk Labs in 2018. Her all-natural oatmeal cups are high in fiber and protein, low in sugar, and ready in minutes.
Founded on the principles of macrobiotics, Muso from Japan was originally established 30 years ago by Shuzo Okada, the father of current company president Yuko Okada. Before establishing Muso, Shuzo Okada led the Shokuyo Shinsei-kai (Macrobiotic Association) in Sakai City, Osaka. Today, the company makes flavorful condiments like wasabi, umami sauce and miso, along with noodles and more.
Charley Shin opened his first BIBIBOP Asian Grill in 2013. The fast-casual restaurant chain grew out of Shin’s desire to serve others—just as he remembered a friend’s family generously serving him the best food they could offer while growing up in Seoul, South Korea. Today, Shin has expanded BIBIBOP’s offerings with authentic sauces that you can use to create your own Asian-inspired dishes at home.
Originally founded in Japan in 1941, Hakubaku—which means “white barley” in Japanese—aims to help its customers enjoy barley and other grains in the same way they enjoy white rice. With Shigetoshi Nagasawa leading the way as president since 2003, the company creates delicious and healthy ramen, soba and udon noodles, as well as barley tea, flour mixes and more.
Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan grew up working alongside their families in the markets of Taiwan and Thailand, where making—and eating—noodles was a part of everyday life. They founded Immi with a goal of helping their families manage health conditions linked to unhealthy diets. Their 100% plant-based ramen noodles pack in rich umami flavor with low carbs and high protein.
Born in Calcutta, India, Nidhi Jalan developed a love of flavor and spice while dining after-hours with her family’s cook and staff. While living in New York City, Nidhi attended the dinner parties of friends who cooked lavish Indian meals—and that’s where she got the idea for Masala Mama. Her Indian simmer sauces make it easy to create authentic meals with flavors like tikka masala, coconut curry and more.
As a first-generation Indian American, Chitra Agrawal grew up visiting India often and learning about its cuisine through her parents. While living in Brooklyn, she started documenting her family’s recipes on a blog, which led to teaching cooking classes and writing her own cookbook. She launched Brooklyn Delhi in 2014 with her husband, Ben, crafting authentic sauces with the rich, complex flavors of Indian cuisine.
This artisan food company is dedicated to giving a modern upgrade to classic flavors. Shibumi’s signature products are gourmet condiments with unique tastes— the result of constant experimentation with brand-new combinations of ingredients. Shibumi aims to create an environment where traditions and the future come together to form good cuisine.
For Maya Kaimal, growing up watching Julia Child on television and tasting her father’s vibrant South Indian dishes sparked a passion for food and cooking at a young age. As an adult, she recognized a gap between the food she grew up eating and what Westerners thought Indian food was. So she launched her line of simmer sauces, soups and other dishes, with a goal of making Indian food more accessible.
An avid food and wine lover, founder Lauryn Chun wanted to bring Korea’s tradition of handcrafted kimchi to a broader audience. She launched her first small-batch kimchi in 2009, using a family recipe from her mother’s restaurant, Mother-in-Law’s House, in Garden Grove, CA. In 2014, Chun introduced gochujang, a fermented chili paste and sauce that captures the authentic flavors of a Korean pantry.