Each May, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is a time when we recognize and celebrate the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our county’s history, culture, and achievements. This commemorative period was established by Congress in 1977 and expanded to a full month in 1990. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants).
Who is Considered AAPI?
“A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).” More at asianpacificheritage.gov.
To help you celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Ravenswood, Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce team members compiled a list of some of our favorite local AAPI-owned small businesses!
Japanese American Service Committee (JASC)
4427 N Clark Street | www.jasc-chicago.org
JASC was founded in 1946 to serve the needs of Japanese immigrants and their American-born children coming to Chicago after leaving the World War II internment camps. Originally called the Chicago Resettlers Committee, the organization assisted with housing, jobs, and the re-forming of a community.
JASC has served as a unique place for the Japanese American community while playing a larger role in providing social services to a much wider and diverse group of Chicagoans. The non-profit organization built the Heiwa Terrace Retirement Community, the Keiro Long Term Care Facility, and created a variety of ongoing services and activities for both children and adults.
Today, JASC engages people of all ages to experience Japanese American history and culture and to improve their well-being through innovative, high quality programs and services tailored to the multicultural community. They also work to archive the history of the Japanese American experience in Chicago for both scholars and our community, while continuing to provide social service and curate cultural programs.
•Livestream: Go “Shopping at Mitsuwa”
Starting on Friday, 5/14 at 7pm, tune in to JASC’s YouTube channel to see the first episode of their new video series “Shopping at Mitsuwa” with Kay Kawaguchi, Chisako Takayama and Joan Ambo! They’ll take viewers through Mitsuwa Marketplace to find and explain ingredients used in Japanese cooking. Click on this link and hit “set reminder” so you can see the video when it premiers.
CoCo Vietnamese Sandwiches & Phở
1613 W Lawrence Avenue | www.cocovietnamesesandwiches.com
CoCo quietly opened up in 2015 and quickly earned a reputation as Ravenswood’s go-to spot for bánh mì and phở. Just a few blocks from the Ravenswood Metra Station, the restaurant’s fresh sandwiches, crunchy spring rolls, and sweet Vietnamese Iced Coffee are a favorite of commuters. On a cold or gloomy day, a bowl of CoCo’s Sliced Rare Phở is what you’re looking for. Also known as menu item “N2,” a traditional, slow-simmered broth is served with thin-sliced beef, sprouts, basil, green onion, and jalapeños. It’s among the restaurant’s most popular dishes, and an especially perfect meal during Chicago’s chilly months.
“We love the tangy, finely-shaved pickles that crown the banh mi at this modern Ravenswood spot, not to mention the schmear of pâté that lends most of its meat-centric offerings a rich boost. The sautéed shrimp sandwich is a winner for its mix of plump, sweet shrimp and umami-packed soy onions…“ Time Out Chicago
Ravenswood Nail Party
1716 W Lawrence Avenue | www.ravenswoodnailparty.com
Ravenswood Nail Party has become a destination Nail Salon in Chicago, offering an extensive selection of services to choose from. Since opening the business in 2018, owner Lien Huynh has committed to offering natural, vegan-friendly services. Treat yourself or a friend to a manicure, pedicure, or both with gift certificates good for future appointments.
4422 N Ravenswood Avenue | www.platformcoworking.com
About a decade ago, Jeff Park decided he was tired of working from home. First, he looked for desks to rent. No luck. Then, he found a couple people to share a small office with. Those office-mates came and went, but their empty seats were quickly filled. Park unintentionally created a coworking space before the term had even been coined. With the demand clear, he expanded into a space in the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, opening Platform Coworking in 2012.
The Ravenswood location offers flexible seating options and long-term reserved spaces. Other amenities include private phone booths, a fully-equipped conference room, and an outdoor patio. Platform is just steps from the Montrose Brown Line stop and a stroll from the Ravenswood Metra station.
4805 N Damen Avenue | www.medeecafechi.com
If you’ve been to MedeE, you’ve returned to MedeE. This under the radar destination for Thai street food is known for friendly service and a menu that features Western favorites and authentic dishes. Specialties including Glass Noodles with Crab, Pad See Ewe, Almond Pad Thai, Kee Mao Noodles, and more. Online ordering is available, with delivery as an option for folks living in 60625.
Side Practice Coffee
5139 N Damen Avenue | www.sidepracticecoffee.com
Located across the street from from beautiful Winnemac Park, Side Practice has become a destination for creative drinks and collaborations. Francis Almeda has been faithful his cafe’s name, using his space to showcase projects and creatives from the AAPI and Ravenswood communities. Their menu features coffee house staples alongside original creations, like the popular Manila Matcha (Ube simple syrup, macadamia milk, matcha) and the Matcha Lavender (lavender simple syrup, oat milk, matcha). For the latest on which artists, bakers, and makers are popping up next, follow them on Instagram at @sidepractice.coffee.
1810 W Montrose Avenue | www.bayankochicago.com
One of the must-try restaurants in Ravenswood, Bayan KO is a Filipino-Cuban mash up founded by Chef Lawrence Letrero and Raquel Quadreny. Their menu fuses family recipes and Chef Lawrence’s experience with modern American cooking. Highlights include Lumpia Shanghai (pork, carrot, scallion, Lola’s garlic sauce), Ginataan Gulay (zucchini, eggplant, green beans, bok choy, swiss chard, coconut), and Bayan KO Lechon (crispy pork belly, mojo sauce, mang tomas).
“Bayan Ko means Our Home in Tagalog. Our mission is to create a welcoming and positive meeting space in our community where family and friends can gather and enjoy a delicious meal.”
Bayan KO’s adorable and sunny street-side patio is open for dine-in. To help keep you safe, Bayan KO is offering pre-ordering and payment through Tock, and contactless table side ordering. Want to enjoy your Luglug (scallop, uni, saffron, chicharron, egg yolk) at home? Review their menu on their website, where you can place an order for pickup.
Milky Milky Ice Cream
Online & Pop-Up Only | www.milkymilkyicecream.com
Jojo Ybe’s ice-cream pop-up shop has developed a wildly enthusiastic following since their launch in 2020. Milky Milky specializes in small batch, handcrafted ice cream. Flavors like Strawberry Basil, Ube, and CTC (think Cinnamon Toast Crunch). To get your hands on a couple pints, join the shop’s mailing list, or do like we do and troll them on Instagram at @milkymilkyicecream. When Jojo announces a drop and opens online orders act fast! Or do like we did and cry while eating your last pint from your last haul.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete list of all the AAPI-owned businesses in our community. Below are some more of our favorites. Let us know if we missed yours by sending an email to email@example.com.
- Aroy Thai (4654 N Damen Avenue)
- China Kitchen (1931 W Foster Avenue)
- Dancen Grill (5114 N Lincoln Avenue)
- Fin Sushi Bar (1742 W Wilson Avenue)
- Gorilla Sushi Bar (4617 N Clark Street)
- Lee’s Wok (1437 W Montrose Avenue)
- House of Wah Sun (4319 N Lincoln Avenue)
- The Perfect Cup (4700 N Damen Avenue)
- Plenty Chinese Restaurant (2002 W Montrose Avenue)
- Q Sushi Bar & Omakase (4845 N Damen Avenue)
- San Soo Gab San (5247 N Western Avenue)
- Shanghai Inn (4723 N Damen Avenue)
- Siam Country (4637 N Damen Avenue)
- Thai on Clark (4641 N Clark Street)
- Urban Vegan (1601-1603 W Montrose Avenue)
AAPI Heritage Month Celebrations Across Chicago
•Livestream: 5/15 “Play for Justice!” – Piano concert by Kimiko and Eriko Darcy
Kimiko and Eriko Darcy, Japanese-American youth members of Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church (4511 N Hermitage Avenue), present a virtual concert to advocate and raise funds for anti-racism. The concert will help to aid the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements by supporting the organizations that support social justice. The concert features pieces composed by African American composers along with classical and romantic works.
To support, please send checks to the church at 4511 N Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640, payable to Ravenswood Fellowship UMC “Darcy concert”. If you would like to make a donation using PayPal, please use this link and put “Darcy concert” in the notes. 6:30pm on Youtube Click here for more information
5/15 Mediation for Beginners, presented by the Chicago Public Library
Meditation is a practice that many people have found beneficial for centuries. If you’re interested in learning what Mindfulness Meditation is and how to do it, or if you are looking to sharpen your meditation skills, please join the Harold Washington Library Center and the Chicago Shambhala Meditation Center for a beginner’s class. 5pm on Zoom, FREE w/ RSVP Click here to register
5/19 Young at Heart: Make an Origami Masu Gift Box Virtual Chat & Craft, presented by the Chicago Public Library
Senior adults, looking for a new pastime that may boost your brain health and hand-eye coordination? Give the Japanese ancient art of origami (paper folding) a try! Origami is also a creative way to help reduce stress.
Stop by and pick up a craft kit complete with everything you need to make an easy masu box to store small treasures, or give as a gift. The kits include large sized origami paper for beginners, and a pack of flower seeds to give as a gift! Register and join online to chat and create together with other crafters. 12pm on Zoom, FREE w/ RSVP Click here for details and to register
5/25-5/31 Chicago Japan Film Collective
The first Japanese film festival in the Midwest comes to Chicago this May. The Chicago Japan Film Collective (CJFC) is proud to introduce viewers to some of Japan’s most original voices and to provide unique international screening opportunities for these talented filmmakers. With a focus on work created by women, the LGBTQ community, and minority filmmakers, the festival aims to introduce Midwestern audiences to the best in independent Japanese cinema, including narrative, documentary, and animation. Through these films, CJFC hope to connect Japanese and American cultures, create mutual understanding and respect, and expand exhibition and distribution possibilities within international, independent cinema. Get tickets and details at www.cjfc.us.
5/25 Grab and Go: Hawaiian Applique Wall Hanging, presented by the Chicago Public Library
Looking for a fun creative outlet? Come pick up a fun arts and crafts grab and go kit to take home courtesy of the Maker Lab and the Arts & Music Department! This grab and go kit is available at the 8th floor reference desk during library hours until May 31st or while supplies last. FREE Click here for details
5/25 A Glimpse of Everyday North Korean Life through Stamps, presented by the Chicago Public Library
For the fifty-year period between 1962-2017, the East Asian Collection of the University of Chicago Library collected around 2,000 different North Korean stamps and made them available online. With information on North Korea remains limited, stamps are one of the most valuable resources to view their everyday life.
The audience will have the chance to see rare images of politics, Juche ideology, educational slogans, nature, geography, architecture, culture, music, and art through a larger portrait of social cultural changes spanning 55 years in North Korea.
This program is presented by Jee-Young Park, Korean Studies Librarian at The University of Chicago Library, and co-sponsored by the Chicago Public Library’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Committee, The University of Chicago Library, and The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago. 6:30pm on Zoom, FREE w/ RSVP Click here for details and to register
5/29 Hula for the Whole Family, presented by the Chicago Public Library
Looking for a way to get active that’s different from regular exercise or yoga? The ancient, dynamic art of Hula uses dance to share the history and traditions of the Hawaiian islands, and local master teacher June Ryushin Tanoue of the Zen Life & Meditation Center will introduce it to beginners of all ages. Join us online via Zoom for a virtual visit to the South Pacific through its rhythms and movements. Loose, comfortable clothing is recommended.
Brought to you by the Asian American and Pacific Islander Committee & the Popular Library at the Harold Washington Library Center. 1:00pm on Zoom, FREE w/ RSVP Click here for details and to register
Click here for a list of Chicago Public Library events celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.