TastyChomps.com founder Ricky Ly is back with his guide to four restaurants perfect for celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month throughout Orlando (Bombay Street Kitchen pictured).
Did you know that Orange County is home to the highest percentage (7%) of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the state of Florida? The roots of AAPI in Central Florida’s history also run deep, dating back to the late 19th century when a Chinese American immigrant and accomplished horticulturalist named Lue Gim Gong became a key figure for Florida’s citrus industry by developing a cold-resistant orange and other plants.
Discover: Orlando’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Culture
Today, the impact of the AAPI community on Central Florida’s economy continues to reverberate, including the most recent announcement of the 2023 MICHELIN Guide’s Bib Gourmand awards. In fact, three of the four Central Florida restaurants honored are AAPI owned and operated, including Isan Zaap, Norigami and Taste of Chengdu. Six others were also announced as MICHELIN Recommended, including Doshi, EDOBOY, Juju, Kaya, Twenty Pho Hour and YH Seafood Clubhouse.
No surprise, given that Orlando is an expanding enclave of authentic Asian food markets and restaurants. Today, second- and third-generation Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are making their own mark on the Central Florida culinary and economic landscape while also honoring their heritage and ancestors’ traditions. Just northeast of downtown, the Mills 50 district is home to the largest Vietnamese American community in Florida, with an expanding roster of authentic Asian restaurants, shops and markets.
Discover: Ways to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month
From MICHELIN Guide restaurants and James Beard-nominated chefs to traditional cuisine and creative twists on classic dishes, visitors will find Asian influence throughout the entire destination.
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Bombay Street Kitchen
The vibrant flavors of Bombay Street Kitchen take your taste buds on a culinary adventure through the bustling streets of India right here in Orlando. The brainchild of classically trained local Central Florida restauranteur, chef and owner Amit Kumar, this MICHELIN Bib Gourmand restaurant is on a mission to bring authentic Indian street food to the masses. Inspired by his childhood memories of Bombay, Chef Kumar’s dishes burst with a fusion of spices, colors and flavors.
Discover: More Great AAPI Restaurants in Orlando
Start off with the Kale Chaat, a crispy and crunchy dish of kale, tangy yogurt, chutneys and pomegranate. Next, savor the Gun Powder Garlic Shrimp, grilled to perfection and coated in a homemade spice mix. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Tribal Chicken, a fire-roasted chicken dish infused with ginger and onions.
For those in the mood for some more street-style food, try the Chicken Kathi Roll. This burrito-style wrap is filled with tender grilled chicken and spices, and is commonly known as a “frankie.” It’s a perfect on-the-go meal, packed with flavor and bursting with Indian spices.
For a fusion twist, try the Chicken Tikka Bao, a delicious Chinese bun filled with juicy chicken, pickled onions, cilantro and a ginger honey sauce. It’s a harmonious blend of Indian and Chinese flavors that is sure to leave your taste buds happy and satisfied. Last but not least, the Chole Bhature is a must-try hearty classic North Indian dish consisting of fried bread and a spicy chickpea curry.
Located just outside The Florida Mall® near Orlando International Airport, Bombay Street Kitchen offers an authentic and exciting dining experience that is perfect for foodies and families alike. Chef Kumar’s passion for bringing the flavors of India to the streets of Orlando is evident in every dish, and the attention to detail and quality of ingredients are second to none.
Kai Asian Street Fare
Located just outside Winter Park north of downtown Orlando, the MICHELIN Recommended Kai Asian Street Fare is a unique restaurant that blends traditional Asian flavors with modern flair. Kai is owned and operated by two brothers-in-law who share a passion for good food and good company. Isra, who hails from Thailand, and Quan, a Vietnamese native, were both engineers who traveled the world before settling in Orlando to share their culinary vision with the community.
Discover: Things to Do in Winter Park
Kai Asian Street Fare’s menu is a reflection of Isra and Quan’s travels, with dishes inspired by street food from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and beyond. The award-winning Tonkotsu ramen, made with a 30-hour pork bone broth and served with shoyu pork belly, marinated egg, bamboo and pickled ginger, is a must-try dish. The Korean Fried Chicken, Thai drunken noodles, garlic noodles, and Bao and Meatball, a tantalizing Asian-inspired French dip, are also popular menu items. For dessert, indulge in their Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream and Doughnuts, which blends together both east and west sweet goodness.
What sets Kai apart from other Asian restaurants is their commitment to making quality, consistent food without taking shortcuts. Quan is a self-taught cook who puts his heart and soul into every dish, while Isra ensures that the flavors are authentic and true to their roots. With their laid-back and genuine approach to cooking, Kai Asian Street Fare is a must for visitors and residents of Orlando who seek great Asian cuisine.
Nestled in Orlando’s bustling Mills 50 district of Orlando, the MICHELIN Recommended Kaya is a vibrant Filipino restaurant that brings together the best of Florida’s freshest ingredients with the heart and soul of Filipino cooking. Kaya is more than just a restaurant — it’s an experience that will take your taste buds on a journey through the vibrant and colorful flavors of Filipino cuisine.
Discover: Things to Do in Orlando’s Mills 50 District
At Kaya, you can enjoy a five-wave chef’s tasting menu that celebrates the seafood- and vegetable-forward dishes of Filipino culture. From the sweet and sour tamarind-infused broth of sinigang to the aromatic garlic rice, every dish is made with love and crafted with care. With each wave, you’ll be transported to the Philippines, where the warmth of hospitality is a way of life.
But Kaya isn’t just about the food — it’s about community. The name Kaya means capable, and the team at Kaya is passionate about creating transformative experiences that go beyond just dining. Whether you’re joining them for a special occasion or just a casual night out, Kaya aims to welcome guests into their home with open arms. And if you can’t make a reservation for the tasting menu, don’t worry: Their a la carte menu is just as delicious, complete with a full liquor bar that has a wide range of signature cocktails and curated wines to choose from.
Owned and operated by Chef Lordfer Lalicon and General Manager Jamilyn Salonga Bailey, Kaya is a testament to the power of friendship, community and passion. Come join them and let Kaya show you what Filipino hospitality is all about.
Isan Zaap Thai Cafe
Isan Zaap Thai Cafe is one of the most exciting additions to Orlando’s food scene. Located near The Mall at Millenia, this restaurant recently received a 2023 MICHELIN Guide Bib Gourmand award. The name “Isan” comes from the Northeastern region of Thailand, which is known for its unique cuisine featuring herbs, spices, fermented ingredients and a wide variety of proteins. While papaya salad (Som Tum) is the most famous dish of the region, Isan Zaap offers a diverse range of mouthwatering Isan dishes to explore.
Founded by three friends, all born and raised in the Isan region, Isan Zaap prides itself on presenting authentic Isan food with a unique touch of love and care. With a deep passion for food, the owners ensure the quality of ingredients and meticulous preparation of every dish they serve. From Isan Sausage to the Tom Zaap Pork Rib Spicy Soup, Crispy Rice Ball Croquette Salad and Moo Ping Pork Skewers, Isan Zaap’s menu is designed to delight your senses. End your meal on a sweet note with the unique durian sticky rice dessert. The owners of Isan Zaap treat their guests like family and promise to provide a memorable dining experience.
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