Just a few blocks east of Downtown Cleveland sits an inconspicuous neighborhood that’s brimming with the kind of delicious authenticity that only the most hipster of eateries could aspire to belong.
Dotting the urban streetscape is more than 20 family-owned businesses boasting worldly eats and Eastern grocers; unique trinkets, handmade wares and cool retail; and a global citizenship representing places like China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
It's Cleveland’s AsiaTown — running from E. 18th to E. 40th streets, and from St. Clair to Perkins avenues. — and it’s best experienced during the annual Cleveland Asian Festival in May.
What To Do There
- Come hungry. No joke. Bahn mi, bibimbap, chutney, dumplings, kimche, lo mein, larb, mandu, pho, steamed buns, sticky rice … it’s all there. And, it’s all calling your name.
- Cultural dancing, music and demonstrations are big parts of the Cleveland Asian Festival. So, don’t be surprised if you run into a few Polynesian hula dancers, Japanese Taiko drummers, kung fu fighters and belly dancers.
- Ready to work off that big bowl of noods? Then suit-up for the oh-so-popular sumo wrestling competitions where participants battle each other inside inflatable sumo wrestler costumes. Or, enter the sushi-eating contest and/or eggroll-eating contest for the chance to take home a swanky new t-shirt, shiny trophy and bragging rights.
What Else To Do
- Think your version of the running man is pretty sweet? (PS: It’s not.) Check out the moves from many of the festival’s performance groups who bring next-level cultural infusion to the dance floor with a competition featuring Bollywood (India), C-Pop (China), J-Pop (Japan), K-Pop (South Korea) and Nepali Hip Hop.
- Festivalgoers are pretty sweet on the dance of the lion. Performed by two people in a large lion costume — adorned with brightly colored trinkets, fur, glitter and mirrors — the dance is accompanied by a band of cymbals and drums to symbolically scare away evil spirits.