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By: Jennifer Agress

Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have made lasting impacts throughout Greater Miami & Miami Beach. We recognize these contributions, and how this community continues to enrich our culture in the U.S., by celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month every May. The month of May is significant in Asian-American history for two reasons: first, May 7, 1843 was when Japanese immigrants started arriving in the U.S. and, second, May 10, 1869 was when the transcontinental railroad was declared complete.

If you’re visiting Greater Miami & Miami Beach this May, or at any time throughout the year, here are some experiential ways you can honor and commemorate Asian and Pacific American Heritage.

Lowe statues
Explore Lowe Art Museum's permanent Art of Asia collection

Explore Asian Culture and History Through Visual Arts

Miami’s world-renowned museums and cultural institutions offer a peek into communities across the globe. The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (FIU) in Westchester has an impressive collection of Eastern art – including 17th-century Japanese “netsukes,'' which are ornate miniature sculptures that are carved by hand. The Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami in Coral Gables has exhibits of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Southeast Asian pottery, metalwork, sculpture, costumes and textiles from the Neolithic period until now, and a collection of 19th- and 20th-century ceremonial objects from Pacific Island countries.

Miami Beach Botanical Bridge
Spend a day enjoying Zen gardens & ponds

Take in Tropical Beauty at Botanical Gardens

Miami’s warm, subtropical climate caters to lush gardens with rare and exotic plants from all over the world, including equatorial locales of Asia. At the Miami Beach Botanical Garden in South Beach, you’ll find a Zen garden with cascading waters, an interesting bamboo collection, traditional Asian pagodas and two river rock ponds connected by a bright red bridge. At Ichimura-Miami Japanese Garden, a traditional Japanese garden that has been on Watson Island between Downtown Miami and Miami Beach since 1958, visitors will find blooming orchid trees and an intimate green space that frequently hosts traditional events, festivals or classes related to Japanese culture.

The Kampong, in Coconut Grove, was once the estate home of Dr. David Fairchild, the famous botanical explorer for whom Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was named. Now part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) family, The Kampong has an impressive collection of exotic plants, flowers and fruit trees from Southeast Asia. Bamboo is often considered a “gift from the gods” in Asian culture, namely because of the number of ways it can be used, so The Kampong’s 18 “clumping bamboos” are significant. There are different varieties of palm trees from Asia here, as well as kaffir orange, jackfruit, mulberry and bael trees. The latter of the four was one of the first types of fruit trees planted at The Kampong. They are important to Asian culture because Hindus believe that the bael fruit is both sacred and medicinal.

Pubbelly spread
Try Japanese fusion at local favorite Pubbelly Sushi

Taste Umami Flavors at Miami’s Asian Restaurants

Miami’s food scene is as diverse as its residents, with restaurants representing every type of Asian cuisine. Located in Coral Gables, Zitz Sum was born during the height of the pandemic, when Pablo Zitzmann, former Executive Chef of No Name Chinese, started an impromptu dim sum business out of his home kitchen that earned high praise. A 2022 James Beard Award nominee for “Best New Restaurant,” Zitz Sum makes daily-changing dumplings and small plates such as pork potstickers, shrimp dumplings with Calabrian chilies and spicy charred cabbage.

Go to Bombay Darbar Indian Restaurant in Coconut Grove for authentic Indian fare, get an eclectic fusion of Japanese- and Latin-inspired sushi at one of Pubbelly Sushi’s five Miami locations, or enjoy an Asian-inspired vegan meal at Planta Queen in Coconut Grove. Hidden (literally) in Wynwood, Hiden is a high-end omakase den that’s only accessible with a secret passcode through the back door of a taco shop. Once you get in, the experience is incredible – Hiden is so exclusive that it only has room for eight people and two nightly dinner seatings.

Miami’s first and only Asian food hall, 1-800-LUCKY in Wynwood, brings together seven different Asian-inspired concepts in the form of fast-casual counters, from dedicated poke and ramen vendors to inventive sushi and a Japanese ice cream shop with fish-shaped cones. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the Far East any time you head to The Setai, Miami Beach – an elegant, Asian-inspired hotel on Collins Avenue with its own Zen courtyard. Every Thursday to Sunday from 6 to 11 p.m., it hosts an Asian Night Bazaar with a live DJ, fire dancers, contortionists and bao buns, dumplings and more from its refined Pan-Asian restaurant, Jaya, at The Setai. Finally, everyone is talking about Sexy Fish Miami in the Brickell neighborhood for both its sophisticated Asian-inspired, seafood-heavy menu and “surrealist” decor – with an all-pink, glow-in-the-dark bathroom you’ll have to wait in line to photograph, as well as a prawn gyoza with ginger and soy dressing that your tastebuds will fall in love with.

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