By Nick Barnett & Jeremy Simmons
It may not look like the most vibrant neighborhood on the outside but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Home to 2500 very nice people of various Asian descent, Asia Town has a diverse and creative culture that comes alive during the Asian Festival.
We spent a couple days touring the neighborhood, and were fortunate enough to find a plethora of great Asian restaurants. From Bo Loong to right across the street at the Siam Café and all the way over to the other corner of the neighborhood in the Asia Plaza Supermarket, there are many places you can treat your tastebuds to authentic Asian cuisine.
Bo Loong on St. Clair and Li Wah in the Asia Plaza (on East 30th and Payne Ave.) keep an abundance of great Asian dishes coming to you throughout the meal with their dim sum style dining. If you get the urge to make some of these fine Asian dishes yourself you can find authentic Asian ingredients at Park to Shop Supermarket in the Asia Plaza.
Asia Town is also home to over 500 artists and the Josaphat Arts Hall that sticks out right in the center of the neighborhood as the most beautiful building around.
The small cultural shops found in Asia Plaza and sprinkled throughout the neighborhood are filled with colorful Asian trinkets that make great souvenirs. We even bought ourselves a pair of real samurai swords with authentic handcrafted sheaths.
We were fortunate enough to be able to interview a local artist, Liz Maugans, who works at Zygote Press, a local non-profit fine arts printmaking workshop on East 30th St.
She was able to give us insight on what they’ll be doing at the Asian Festival. She told us that the Zygote Press will be heading up an activity for people of all ages to participate in. The activity is the ancient Japanese art printing process called Gyotaku, which involves using real fish to make impressions on paper. They are using many native Lake Erie fish species like the Walleye and Blue Gill to make the impressions, and to also give this Japanese art form an American feel, they will put spinnakers on these so they can be used as colorful windcatchers.
Ms. Maugans also shared with us that the best part of the festival is the mixing of diverse Asian cultures and, of course, the delicious food. She told us that her personal favorites were the salted baked oysters at the Siam Café and that the Vietnamese restaurant #1Pho on Superior makes a “killer, killer cabbage chicken ginger salad that rocks the house.”
And while you’re stuffing your face with decadent Asian cuisine and enjoying the beautiful artwork, you can watch a performance by Instant Noodles, a top 5 finalist on the hit TV show America’s Best Dance Crew, who will make their Ohio debut.
Check out the Cleveland Asian Festival in Asia Town the weekend of Sat 5/19 and Sun 5/20 for great food, great art, and new cultural experiences. You won’t want to miss it.
From Cool Cleveland correspondents Nick Barnett and Jeremy Simmons. Nick and Jeremy are students at Hawken.