May is Asian Heritage Month, an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on and learn more about the achievements and contributions that people of Asian heritage have made across the country.
We’re very fortunate to live in Ottawa, which is rich in cultural diversity with more and more businesses led by the Asian diaspora becoming prevalent community favourites.
While this is not at all an exhaustive list of Asian-owned businesses, we wanted to give a spotlight to some that we can’t help but think of when it comes to great food, great products and great service. Here are 16 Asian-owned businesses in Ottawa, that you might not know about:
Restaurants you need to try
1. Coconut Lagoon
If you’re looking for an elevated dining experience, you need to go to Coconut Lagoon on St. Laurent Boulevard. The 16-year-old restaurant specializes in the cuisine of Kerala, the chef’s home province in India, on the country’s tropical, southwestern Malabar Coast.
Not only did it face the challenges of Covid, but also a devastating fire that required the restaurant to be fully rebuilt. Stronger than ever before, this award-winning restaurant will leave you speechless with its delicious flavours.
2. Kuidaore Izakaya
Inspired by Osaka people’s obsession with eating food, the name certainly rings true here. The fun interior design will captivate your attention from beautiful cherry blossoms to tiny anime references throughout.
They also have a phenomenal ramen menu with vegetarian and gluten free options, sushi and lots of appetizers to choose from. To pair with your tasty eats, we highly recommend that you get the homemade lemonade (lemonade mixed with green tea), it is one of the most refreshing drinks we’ve ever had.
3. Cô Châm
If you’re looking for something affordable, can be taken to go and you know will be delicious, Co Cham is what you need. Located in Chinatown, this restaurant offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine and is best known for their vegetarian spring rolls, banh mi (sandwiches) and pho.
If you’re in a rush and didn’t have time to grab a coffee out the door, you can also try a Vietnamese iced coffee with your order. We recommend checking this spot out if you’re in the neighbourhood.
4. Table Sodam
We’re not going to gatekeep the best Korean fried chicken in town! Seriously, sweet soy sauce will change your life. But, don’t worry they serve way more than just fried chicken. They also have a range of authentic Korean dishes and sides from bibimbap to kimchi fried rice to corn cheese.
Tucked away in a small storefront on Bank Street, this is not a restaurant you want to miss. Whether you dine in or take out, the sheer experience from their savoury dishes will keep your belly full and happy.
5. Ng’s Cuisine
Located off of Merivale Road, you can find authentic Cantonese & Szechuan flavours at Ng’s Cuisine. Whether you’re going for dim sum with your family or opting for take out, the large menu offers something for everyone and at affordable prices.
If you’ve never tried dim sum before, it’s a fun experience to see what dishes are going around on the serving carts (think about looking at the pictures in a menu, but it’s actually in front of you for you to decide).
6. Pho Bo Ga LA
There’s nothing better than a heartwarming bowl of pho on a winter day. Pho Bo Ga LA is a family-owned restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, between it’s iconic flavours and, its blue and red exterior its an absolute necessity to check out. We highly recommend dining in so you have the opportunity to meet the kind people behind the delicious food.
Products curated by Asian owners
1. Kowloon Market
A staple for groceries in Ottawa’s Chinatown, this family owned Asian supermarket opened their second location in Kanata just this year! This is an exciting update for the Ottawa West-end because your needs for fresh produce, bakery, Asian ingredients and snacks have become much more accessible.
2. Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen
Easily one of the best ice cream shops in Ottawa, if you couldn’t tell by the line out the door on hot summer days (but don’t let that discourage you from going).
With new flavours always on the go, it’s hard not to make regular regular visits to try them all. Not to mention, when you go for some scoops, you can also pick up frozen dumplings or ice cream bars to take home for later.
3. Allivir League
If streetwear is your vibe then you need to check out Allivir by Ottawa’s very own, Victor Rivilla. With a talent for design and passion for sports, vintage clothing and streetwear, Victor takes elements from each space to create his own unique collections. You need to keep an eye out for his next drops because they always go quickly!
4. Hungry Ninja
Hungry Ninja started as a section in a small store in Nepean to bring Korean & Japanese goodies to Ottawa, has now opened its own shop on Merivale Road! With a huge selection of imported snacks, having a physical store allows them to also offer foods like topokki, dumplings and so much more.
Be careful when you shop because they have things you didn’t know you needed… Like a cute, frog shaped ramen bowl or a boba plushie (Sorry in advance)!
5. Bao Bao Farm
Shini, the founder of Bao Bao Farm, was understandably disappointed by the lack of Asian representation when it came to produce available at local farmer’s markets. In 2021, she took it upon herself to fill the gap and offer locally sourced East Asian produce. This summer, you can find her at the Perth Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Ottawa Parkdale Night Market on Wednesdays.
Services for the local community
1. Drip House
We know that Driphouse is technically a place for good food and good drinks. (For real, it’s our go-to place to work for a change of scenery and we love trying their seasonal drinks). But, did you know that it’s also a hub for the community? Whether it is displaying work by local artists, collaborating with local businesses or hosting events, it’s much more than just a coffee house. Looking for a venue for a special event, you should definitely check them out here!
2. Edith Parinas – Mortgage Broker
Not your average mortgage broker, Edith is a supermom and yoga instructor on top of her 20 years in finance, pretty much making her a certified cool person. She’s always up for a challenge, whether you’re self-employed, need to do some financial maneuvering or are taking the road less traveled to get into real estate, she’s got your back!
3. Success Dragon Lion Dance Troupe
The Chinese Lion Dance is a 3000-year-old Chinese tradition that symbolizes prosperity, luck and happiness. The Success Dragon Lion Dance Troupe strives to promote traditional Chinese culture and have been performing in the Ottawa-Gatineau region for over 30 years!
You might’ve seen the beautiful lion dance at various events for Lunar New Year this year. However, they do performances for weddings and various special events happening in the Capital region!
4. South Asian Supermarket
Located off of Carling Road, the South Asian Supermarket prides itself on its affordable pricing and the best customer service in Ottawa, and we couldn’t agree more. You need to check it out for specialized goods such as spices, fruits, vegetables, snacks and any of your South Asian cooking essentials. Check out their Facebook page here for the most recent updates on new products and promotions.
5. Banaue Sari-Sari
There’s a growing number of Filipino restaurants in the Ottawa community (Lola’s Kitchen, Tami’s Cafe and Meryenda food truck to name a few), but did you know that there’s a Filipino grocery store in Barrhaven? Their store offers over 100 different types of ingredients and snacks, including 42 different types of fish! They also offer online orders and delivery within the Barrhaven area, take a look at what they have here.
This Asian Heritage Month is a great opportunity to celebrate and learn about the Asian-owned businesses that contribute to the Ottawa community. We hope that this list helps you find one new local business to explore and support this year!
Happy Asian Heritage Month from the Seyer Team!
Did we miss your favourite Ottawa Asian-owned business? Drop them below, we’d love to check them out!