According to Research benchthe Asian population in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades and is now expected to exceed 46 million by 2060. From Asian ethnic groups such as the Hmong of Wisconsin to the Chinese-Jamaican population of Toronto, Asian populations form a wide range of cultures that promote the celebration of authentic experiences that North American travelers and residents can enjoy.
Here are some ways to engage with some of the best Asian communities in North America, in keeping with May’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Hmong community in Wausau, Wisconsin
In a statistic little known outside the state, Hmong Americans are Wisconsin’s largest Asian ethnic group. The Hmong originated in China and dispersed to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma from the early 1800s due to Chinese land expansion. After the United States withdrew from South Vietnam in 1975, thousands of Hmong left Laos to seek asylum in Australia, Europe and North America.
According to the 2010 US Census, there were approximately 260,000 Hmong Americans living in the United States, with the majority living in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the town of Wausau, in central Wisconsin, you can learn about Hmong culture at the Laos to America Museum. Opened at its new location in November 2021, this museum showcases artifacts of Hmong and Lao life, culture and history with exhibits that show hand tools used for subsistence farming, utensils cookware and musical instruments.
People can engage with the Hmong community across the state at cultural events like the Hmong National Memorial Day Festival, learning about and celebrating the diverse and vibrant Hmong community.
Head down to Milwaukee to find the 5XEN Marketplace featuring an international grocery store, authentic Asian and world cuisine restaurants, a conference center, and a banquet hall that hosts events big and small.
Houston‘s huge immigrant population merges into incredible diversity. One in four Houstonians comes from another county, and the sprawling city is home to nearly every Asian culture, including Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and the nation’s third-highest Vietnamese population.
You can find much of this concentration of cultures in the Asiatown neighborhood of Houston. Visitors can immerse themselves in Asian heritage tours, serene Buddhist temples, traditional art adventures, shopping and more.
Perhaps the most acclaimed part of this cultural fusion is Houston’s culinary scene fueled by authentic restaurants, bakeries and specialty grocery stores. This gave rise to famous local dishes such as Viet-Cajun (Viejun), a twist on traditional southern crawfish porridge enhanced with Vietnamese flavors. There’s also James Beard Award semi-finalist Crawfish & Noodles and Kau Ba Kitchen (with Ugly Delicious star Nikki Tran at the helm), who have elevated this cuisine from a local favorite to a sought-after and recognized scene in national scale.
Discover several Asian communities in Toronto, Canada
With more than 200 languages spoken and more than half of its population born in another country, Toronto has long been home to a great cultural variety. This authentic multiculturalism manifests itself as soon as travelers land in Toronto.
There are several Chinatowns, a museum dedicated to Islamic culture, the Caribbean festival of Caribana, and much more. This diversity has inspired generations of diverse Torontonians to establish their ethnic mark in the city and share their unique perspective with travellers.
Among the influential locals creating the future of Toronto’s diversity is MJ Jeong’s restaurant, which fuses Korean and French cuisine. Jeong and his fiancée Jennifer Yeo Jeong started this restaurant from scratch after MJ completed compulsory South Korean military service, migrating to Queen City to start a new life in Toronto.
Craig Wong spotlights Jamaican-Chinese cuisine at Patois. Wong’s family lived in Jamaica for more than three generations before immigrating to Canada in the early 1970s. Their cuisine incorporates this Jamaican-Chinese heritage in concert with world-class, Michelin-starred cooking techniques acquired at years of working in restaurants like Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée in Paris and Heston Blumental’s Fat Duck in England.
This is just a taste of what awaits adventurous urban travellers. From Seattle to San Diego on the West Coast and scattered across the United States, travelers from all walks of life can discover art, dance, dining, Asian experiences and more.