WORTH THE DRIVE: Asian Cuisine Week in Cincinnati has more than 50 restaurants

More than 50 restaurants in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will participate in “Asian Cuisine Week” Jan. 22-28.

“This year is the 5th Annual Asian Cuisine Week, and it’s the largest Asian Cuisine Week ever. Over 50 restaurants are participating. It starts on Monday, and runs through Jan. 28,” said Lam Dang, public relations manager at Asianati. “It will be a whole week of delicious food. I really want everybody to come out enjoy it.”

To celebrate the event’s fifth anniversary, there will be an “Asian Cuisine Week Kickoff Party” on Monday, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Knox Joseph Distillery at OTR SillHouse. The event is free to attend. There will be live music from Asian-American Artist Mark Joseph from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Guests can also sample delicious small bites from several of “Asian Cuisine Week” restaurants and participate in a game night.

“Though this is Asian Cuisine Week’s fifth year, it is the first year we have hosted a kickoff party,” Dang said. “This added element of Asian Cuisine Week will bring a new level of excitement to our already beloved cultural celebration.”

In Asian culture, a gathering around food is an important aspect of a meal. So, that’s one of the reasons organizers came up with the Asian Cuisine Week Kickoff Party.

“If you want to get to know somebody, you invite them over for a meal, and many celebrations are held around food. So, food is very important to gather around for Asians. The point of dinner to me is to celebrate. Even with simple meals every day, it’s a time to gather around and celebrate. We wanted that aspect added on to the 5th Annual Asian Cuisine Week, so we added this meet-up to incorporate that aspect of coming together,” Dang said.

The Asian Cuisine Week Food Passport, introduced in 2023, will return again this year and it will allow guests to track each place they visit and record the different menu items they try.

The week, formerly known as “Asian Food Week,” was rebranded last year to “Asian Cuisine Week” to differentiate the event from “Asian Food Fest,” which will be held April 27-28 at Court Street Plaza in Downtown Cincinnati.

“Asian Food Week” originally started during the peak of COVID to promote and support the local restaurants. Now, the event continues to be celebrated annually. Customers can participate by dining in at a restaurant or ordering take-out.

Because of the help, support, and promotions these restaurants received during the pandemic, people who didn’t know the restaurants previously are now familiar with them and many have become regular customers. There has been a lot of positive feedback from customers as well as the restaurant owners.

Presented by Asianati, a brand within the Asian American Culture Association of Cincinnati, “Asian Cuisine Week” will afford patrons an opportunity to purchase specials and try new food offerings and “secret menu” items at participating restaurants, during regular operating hours. Typically, “secret menu” items are authentic dishes not normally offered at the restaurant. Specialty dishes and menu items will be available at various price points.

The purpose of “Asian Cuisine Week” is to celebrate the diversity of Asian cuisine by discovering local Asian restaurants and what they specialize in. “Asian Cuisine Week” will give customers the opportunity to explore Asian foods and cultures as they visit the participating restaurants.

“The intention is for people to support new restaurants they have never tried before, or that they’ve never seen. Many of these Asian restaurants are in niche neighborhoods, and sometimes it can be intimidating, knowing which one to go to. So, this is a way for Cincinnatians to support new restaurants,” Dang said.

He said it’s also a way to try unique dishes that typically aren’t available on the restaurants’ menus, or in general. The restaurants are encouraged to showcase some of their home-cooked, traditional dishes.

“I’m thrilled about the growth of the event, and I’m also excited to be participating,” Lang said.

For more information about participating restaurants, menus, or to download and print an Asian Cuisine Week Food Passport, go to “Asian Cuisine Week” website at acw.asianati.com.

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