Spend 24 Hours Supporting Asian-Owned Businesses in Charlotte
In Charlotte, there are so many exciting, rich and diverse Asian-owned businesses that need your patronage.
by Alice Lee
As you’re making weekend plans or simply thinking about what to eat or do next, here’s a 24-hour guide to help you support and enjoy Asian-owned businesses across the area.
Jumpstart your morning with Dim Sum, a large range of small dishes that’s typically enjoyed family style for breakfast or lunch, at The Dumpling Lady’s food stall at Optimist Hall. While you’re there, order the Chengdu-style dumplings with a side of scallion pancakes for later.
Next, head over to Asian Market to grab some groceries. The supermarket opened in 2020 and features handmade baos, an expansive assortment of fresh produce, live seafood and an ever-rotating buffet line of Chinese dishes you can order as part of a lunch box with steamed rice.
With your belly full and your pantry stocked, it’s time for some self-care. Schedule an appointment with owner and hairstylist Binh at Binh Beauty Salon in Plaza Midwood. Binh only accepts cash so you may need to stop by an ATM beforehand. While you’re at it, grab some tip money and head to Mimosas Nail Bar in Villa Heights for a luxury manicure and pedicure.
Now that your nails are Instagram-worthy, make your way to ShareTea on Central Avenue for a bubble tea to hold in the perfect shot. Keep it classic and get the fresh milk tea with bubbles or get a customer favorite: the Wintermelon tea with light ice. If you thought Starbucks drinks were incredibly customizable, you haven’t been to a bubble tea shop. You can personalize your drink by adding countless topping options, such as boba, pudding, herbal jelly, aloe vera or fresh milk foam, and even adjust the sweetness level and specify the amount of ice in your drink.
Hungry again? Grab a bowl of noodle soup or pho, a dish with rice noodles, beef broth and herbs, from Lang Van Vietnamese. Or head over to South End for Khao Soy, noodles in a spicy and sweet coconut-based broth, at Rai Lay. Opt for Vegetable Ramen at YUME in the South End’s Gold District. If you're looking for a deal, Red Ginger, a Japanese steakhouse in Uptown, has popular hibachi and bento box lunch specials. If you’re open to venturing a bit farther south, check out the Niu Rou Mian, a beef noodle soup, at Riceblossom: Sushi & Asian Cuisine in Quail Hollow.
Next, source some local goods to bring home, starting with a cactus or tropical house plant at The Cactus Club in South End. You might even spot Cactus Club around town doing pop-ups from a cool green bus. If you’re still in the shopping mood, head to Society Social and scope out beautiful homewares. If you just need to spruce up what you already own, drop off your furniture at Sara Chen Design for a facelift.
If you’re in South Charlotte or Midtown, satisfy your sweet tooth at Open Rice and try authentic bubble waffles, a popular Hong Kong street food that features a sweet batter shaped into a bubbled waffle and filled with ice cream and various toppings. Once you’re full, schedule a viewing of local artist Duy Huynh’s paintings at his personal studio, Lark and Key. Purchase one of his whimsical pieces as a keepsake from your day’s adventures. Didn’t make an appointment? For an on-the-fly art experience, check out the Fuse Project by artist Kenny Nguyen. His art installation on Brevard Street, on the Brooklyn Collective building, uses recycled materials.
There are countless dinner options to choose from in the Queen City. Go for the Yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) at Gyu-Kaku in Uptown, sushi at Yamazaru in South End or Japanese food at Musashi in South Charlotte. For authentic, handmade dumplings, the Dumpling Flight at Sun's Kitchen is a must-try. Or check out Botiwalla at Optimist Hall, an Indian street food concept from James Beard-nominated chef Meherwan Irani. From lamb burgers to the chicken tikka roll and skewer, there’s no shortage of delicious Indian food to try.
No evening is complete without a nightcap, or several. Try the Yogurt Soju, a drink with Korean distilled alcohol and Yakult yogurt, at Seoul Food Meat Company or a craft cocktail from Hawkers Asian Street Food. End the night with some dancing at one of the many places DJ Billy Leng spins. Check out his Instagram for his latest bookings.
When your day winds down, you will have gained a new appreciation for small, Asian-run businesses here in Charlotte – which will hopefully become favorites in your dining, shopping and leisure repertoire.
Article originally written by Alice Lee. Updates by Arielle Patterson in April 2023.