Asian-Owned Restaurants to Check Out in Philadelphia
Enjoy authentic flavors, family recipes and inventive dishes while supporting Asian business owners...
The most recent census puts Philadelphia’s Asian and AAPI population at close to 10%, representing a richly diverse collection of cultures and cuisines in the city and suburbs. With that growth has come a proliferation of amazing restaurants, offering various Asian cuisines and compelling coffees, cocktails and confections.
While Chinatown remains a hub of Asian-owned shopping and dining, vital communities and business districts have grown all over the city and region. Asian supermarkets anchor a Southeast Asian community in South Philly, while Korean businesses multiply in Upper Darby and Olney, crossing into suburbs in the north.
It’s more important than ever to support local Asian and Asian American-owned restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia region, and there are dozens of tasty ways to do it. Here are just some of the places in the Philadelphia region serving up various Eastern cuisines, American fine and comfort food, coffee and craft cocktails, and artisanal sweets.
The list of restaurants below is curated with help from SEAMAAC , VietLead , Modero , North 5th Street Revitalization Project and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia . Because Philly’s Asian and Asian American communities are so varied and diverse, we’ve created an additional restaurant guide focused on Chinatown , one of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods.
First things first! The center of Asian dining in Philadelphia is Chinatown , where you’ll find Cantonese, Fujianese, Sichuan and Taiwanese, Korean, Thai and Malaysian cultures and food. The neighborhood cropped up in the mid-19th century, and family cooks and acclaimed chefs have been feeding the city from these blocks ever since. Check out our guide to Chinatown restaurants for dining and more ways to support Asian business owners in Philadelphia.
Born and raised in Vietnam, owner Tuan Phung confesses to having watched too much Food Network. His homey place on South Street combines a craft beer bottle shop, a cocktail bar and a creative Vietnamese kitchen, serving up signature dishes like the Obama bowl (a creative twist on bun cha Hanoi) and a French dip sandwich made with pho-braised brisket.
Owner Judy Ni and husband Andy showcase Taiwanese cuisine at their Logan Square spot . Pronounced BOW-low-gee , the restaurant takes its name from the Chinese word bao, meaning “bun,” “package” or “bag.” Two must-try menu items: gwa baos — a Taiwanese street food typically consisting of slow-braised pork belly — and potstickers filled with meat or vegetables that are steamed on top and crispy on the bottom.
Bloom Southern Kitchen, Morgantown Coffee House & More
David Backhus’ culinary portfolio in Chester County runs the gamut. What started with an espresso bar at Morgantown Coffee House has grown to include two restaurants: Korean barbecue spot oori (opened in 2020 with chef Michael Falcone) and Bloom Southern Kitchen (opened in 2021 with chef Tim Cone). Bloom offers brunch that will keep you full all day, as well as low-country American dinners.
Hungry for a hearty breakfast with Vietnamese flair? Look no farther than Huyen Thai Dinh’s cozy cafe at 15th and South streets, where you can find eggs and other American breakfast and lunch staples, Vietnamese standards, and creative combinations of both, like Vietnamese fried pork and eggs. Look for healthy salads and cafe beverages, including Vietnamese coffee and temptations like Jasmine Iced Coffee and Matcha Palmer. Translation: This is your new daytime crush.
There’s nothing pretentious about this tiny Fishtown spot under the El. Owner/chef Joseph Kim and his wife Ellie run the show at the 16-seat sushi and ramen restaurant and keep the vibe casual, though the food is anything but. Bao buns, tuna guac and miso soup lead to carefully crafted sushi, sashimi and maki alongside a handful of ramen bowls and dishes from the kitchen. The reservation-only omakase is the real standout, with 22 courses at $125.
Where: Dawa, 1204 N. Front Street
D'Jakarta Cafe and Martabak OK
Indonesian street food is the highlight at D’Jakarta , owned by husband and wife Beddy Sonnie and Alfitri Ho. Southeast Asian flavors star in familiar dishes like the meatball soup and egg noodle bowls at D’Jakarta. And check out their takeout spot, Martabak OK , which specializes in wildly popular pancakes that come stuffed with sweet or savory fillings like cream cheese, peanut butter or spicy geprek (fried chicken).
Eggcellent, Kopi Latte & More
Daniel Anggrianto has made a business out of brunch. The pancakes, omelets, skillets, wraps and bowls at Eggcellent and Café Square One in Old City can fuel you all day, while Fishtown outpost Kopi Latte serves up bahn mi in a comfy setting. Be sure to save room for their smoothies, coffees, cappuccinos and other specialty drinks, available at all locations. Might we recommend the Nutella latte?
Natural wines are having a moment, and Vanessa Wong is there for it. Her cozy Fishtown wine bar and bottle shop specializes in organic, sustainable, biodynamic and natural wines. Stop in to buy wines from small producers or stay to sip them at the bar, where you can also enjoy beer, cocktails and small plates. Pro tip: Don’t miss happy hour, taking place every day of the week.
GuGu Asian Table and Lily Asian Cuisine Sushi & Grill
Tony and Suki Liu have brought fine Japanese dining to southern Chester County. After migrating to New York from Fujian, China, where they met, the couple settled in Kennett Square and opened Lily Sushi & Grill , serving up Chinese classics from the wok and hibachi, alongside fresh sushi and now poke bowls. In fall of 2021, they opened GuGu Asian Table , a sophisticated dining room offering a variety of cooked and raw specialties, including bluefin toro, featured on their special tasting menu.
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This unassuming Indonesian restaurant in South Philly earned Ena, Maylia and Diana Widjojo a James Beard Award semifinalist nod and national attention in 2018. Their modest, family-run spot, now led by Ena’s daughters Maylia and Diana, has been a local favorite for folks looking to sample the flavors of Sumatra, Java and Balid since it opened in 2001. Try the tempe, a soybean-based dish in a cake-like structure that many people don’t realize is an Indonesian staple.
Accomplished restaurateur and multi-year James Beard Award nominee Ellen Yin opened Fork in Old City in 1997 — and it’s still going strong today. Her High Street Hospitality group includes High Street restaurants in both Philadelphia and New York. Her a.kitchen + a.bar at AKA Rittenhouse hotel was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of “ The 50 Wine Restaurants We Love 2021 ”. And during the pandemic, High Street launched The Wonton Project , a pop-up takeout and delivery spot with outposts in West Philly and Center City; they donate 5% of proceeds to community groups working to end anti-Asian discrimination.
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What started out as chef-owner Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon’s search for a catering kitchen quickly morphed into a critically acclaimed sensation . She was a 2022 finalist for the James Beard award for Mid-Atlantic chef, and Kalaya was a 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant — the same year Esquire named Kalaya the 2020 Restaurant of the Year . Kalaya showcases the authentic southern Thai recipes Suntaranon learned from her mother, for whom the restaurant is named. In October 2022, Kalaya moved from its original Bella Vista location to a much larger space in Fishtown, where reservations remain in high demand.
Where: Kalaya, 4 W. Palmer Street
West Philly’s popsicle hub has been serving all-natural frozen treats since 2012, but don’t expect simple cherry, orange and grape flavors. Customers can choose from gourmet popsicles like Matcha Mochi, mango sticky rice, Vietnamese iced coffee and lavender lemonade. And in collaboration with local ice cream maker Weckerly’s, Lil Pop Shop has launched the Popalong truck to bring hand-crafted sweets to your next party.
In a western region of Japan, “maido” is used as a greeting for regulars, an appreciation for a loyal customer, and this Japanese grocer and restaurant has plenty of them. Founded in Narberth in 2003 by Seiko Dailey, Maido! is one of the only Japanese-owned grocery stores in Greater Philadelphia. Dailey’s current expanded store and restaurant in Ardmore offers guests an immersive Japanese experience: Sit at the lunch counter and enjoy Okonomiyaki (pancakes), Yaki-soba noodle and other specialties while watching a live sumo tournament on satellite TV. The shop also offers fresh produce, a wide variety of Japanese packaged goods and even Japanese toys.
Born in the Manchurian Province of China and raised in Taiwan, Margaret Kuo is a culinary legend in the Philadelphia area. After coming to the U.S. on a scholarship, she married, relocated to Philadelphia and pivoted from chemistry to the restaurant business. She’s been a fixture of the dining scene since the 1970s, introducing a whole generation of suburbanites to traditional northern Chinese cuisine. She has owned various restaurants over the decades and currently runs two. Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen at Granite Run in Media raises the bar for mall dining. Her flagship in Wayne is an elegant two-story restaurant featuring Chinese and Japanese fare, including sushi, dim sum and an impressive saki menu.
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Carol Ha’s donut business was a side project for seven years before going full-time in 2019, much to the delight of customers around the city. Okie Dokie ’s “kitchen shop” retail store in South Philly serves up gluten-free and vegan options, with seasonal varieties like honey orange blossom, lemon basil and corn dog donuts for summer. Plus, Ha’s wholesale operation means her donuts are available at select cafes and pop-up events throughout Philly.
The exterior of Royal Sushi & Izakaya is unassuming, though the food is delectably memorable. Jesse Ito’s delicious Japanese menu made him a James Beard Award Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist for four years in a row (2017-2020), and he was a finalist for the Mid-Atlantic chef award in 2022. Guests at the Queen Village restaurant can opt for the reservations-only, 17-piece $175 omakase menu at Royal Sushi or the more casual first-come first-served a-la-carte experience at Royal Izakaya.
One of Center City’s top Korean restaurants got its start in North Philadelphia. Owner Chris Cho still operates both Seorabol locations, serving sushi, sashimi, bibimbap and Korean barbecue daily. The original spot in Olney is part of a vital and growing Korean business district, but the Center City restaurant draws a loyal following as well.
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Authentic dishes from Sumatra, Indonesia, have been on the menu since Mutia Aji opened Seulanga Cafe in 2011. This centrally located South Philly restaurant is a short walk from the bustling Synder and Passyunk avenue corridors, and though it’s easy to miss, the food is unforgettable. If you can limit yourself to just one dish, make it nasi campur, a mixed rice that customers can order with chicken, rendang, fish or vegetables in coconut milk and sambal.
Sophie’s Kitchen is a family affair through and through. Husband and wife Danny Duk and chef Sophia Neth run the show with their four sons, serving all things Cambodian for both breakfast and dinner. Dishes like lemongrass beef stew and coconut curried mussels delight customers and food critics alike, and their outdoor seating has grown their capacity.
Gado gado, pempek (fishcake), coconut rice-based dishes and other Indonesian plates occupy the extensive menu at Sky Cafe , which has called South Philly home since day one, though owner Betty Yu relocated to the current spot after a fire in 2015. This modest and beloved neighborhood restaurant serves customers indoors and out and does a brisk takeout business as well.
The menu at chef Kenneth Sze’s Old City raw bar is fresh, locally sourced and family-influenced. Alongside the fresh hand-selected fish, guests enjoy the specialty cocktails and long wine list with sushi. Pro tip: Stop in for a happy hour snack at the bar.
Where: Tuna Bar, 205 Race Street
Tibetan food is described by some as an intersection of Chinese and Indian cuisine, and Treley and Tsering Parshingtsang’s quaint (and very popular) BYOB in Roxborough fills that void in Philadelphia’s rich Asian foodscape. The yellow and wood paneled dining room feels like a cozy hut you might find in the Himalayas. Enjoy hearty meat dishes, noodles, momos (a special kind of dumpling) and the uniquely salted taste of butter tea, all under the watchful eye of the Dali Lama.
Where: White Yak, 6118 Ridge Avenue
Restaurant power couple Win and Sutida Somboonsong have served Asian and Asian-fusion dishes in the Philadelphia suburbs since the early ’90s, starting with Mikado Thai Pepper in Ardmore. Since then, WIN Signature Restaurants has opened Azie Media and Azie on Main in Villanova, Teikoku in Newtown Square and The Blue Elephant in Pottstown, which was named the 2021 Best Asian Fusion Restaurant by Main Line Today .
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We know: A market isn’t a restaurant. But the eats at this weekend market are just as good as at any Philly-area spot. Bring an empty stomach and pick from dozens of food tents serving up Cambodian and Southeast Asian street food, exotic produce, flavorful spice blends and delicious beverages. Good news: Thanks to a new grant, the marketplace will soon become a permanent fixture at FDR Park.