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by Zoe Brown via
photos courtesy of Breanna Kulkin

Looking for something different to do on a date night or girl’s night out?

Try the Asiatown Food Tour. Food and fun, yes, but I think you’ll be surprised by what you learn about a wonderful Cleveland neighborhood that perhaps we’ve all been sleeping on.

Last month, Shana and I joined the May series of the Asiantown Food Tour, which left me with a tremendous respect and appreciation for neighbors who’ve managed to preserve their culture on a few blocks east of downtown.

Cleveland’s AsiaTown includes a mix of residences and businesses with a high concentration of people of Asian descent, mainly Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Their collective history in Cleveland runs deep, back to the Civil War era as noted on the web.

Hosted by the Night Market Cleveland team as an extension of that experience, the Asian Food Tour is a perfect way to learn about this diverse neighborhood in Cleveland.

With transportation provided by West Side Shuffle, the tour makes 4 stops around AsiaTown at various restaurants and other locations. Meals are served family-style and menus include neighborhood favorites meant to entice palettes.

Dinner at Szechuan Cafe

During the May tour, we ate meals and desserts at:
  • Wonton Gourmet & BBQ  – Fish filet with jade tofu, salt baked calamari, salted cumin lamb, and the vegetarian dish, Tung Choy with garlic and hand shredded spicy cabbage.
  • Korea House – Dukboki (rice cakes stir-fried with fish cake, beef, and vegetables in a spicy sauce), Haemul Pajun (Seafood Pancake), Kalbee Gui Jungsik (charcoal grilled marinated beef) and the vegetarian dishes, Bindaeduk and tofu jim.
  • Szechuan Cafe – Sliced fish in chili sauce, griddle-cooked beef, home-style double-cooked pork, and the vegetarian dish, dried string bean, and braised tofu.
  • Asia Food Co. in the Asian Town Center – An assortment of sweet and savory treats, and unique fruit.

Concocted on the “bus bar” by the guys from Fresh Brewed Teas, were signature cocktails made with ingredients from local and Ohio-based businesses, including Pope’s Kitchen and Watershed Distillery. The Dragon Tongue, Superior Sling, and a refreshing, fruity take on bubble tea (minus the milk and tapioca) added a special touch to the night.

Signature cocktails being prepared on the bus bar.

Signature Cocktails being prepared on the bus

I especially loved the menu at Korea House, on Superior. I’ll definitely go back for their Haemul Pajun and Gui Jungsik. And I’ll be making a trip back to Asia Food Co. to spend more time exploring and buying my new favorite fruit, lychee.

Not only is the tour a great way to learn about AsiaTown and the exciting things on the horizon for the neighborhood, I made new friends on the tour too. At one of the stops, I even met other black girls who teach folks how to speak Mandarin Chinese!

The AsiaTown Food Tour is now held once a month and continues throughout the summer. Follow them on Facebook for details about the June tour.

Thanks to the Night Market Cleveland team, I’ll be thinking about and visiting this Cleveland neighborhood a lot more.

Black Girl in the CLE is a collaborative blog detailing events and experiences around Cleveland from a sisterly perspective. Check us out at


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