Sreylish “Alice” Tum, owner of GoodBelly, smiles with an assortment of the malasadas and kolaches she makes at Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant on March 14, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Sreylish “Alice” Tum, owner of GoodBelly, smiles with an assortment of the malasadas and kolaches she makes at Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant on March 14, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Celebrate Asian and Pacific heritage deliciously with these local picks

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Support local businesses and expand your palate with two dishes for every meal of the day — plus dessert.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, designated by Congress in 1992. The month commemorates two key dates in American history: May 7, 1843, when the country’s first Japanese immigrants arrived on California shores, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad — built largely by Chinese workers — was completed.

The month honors the histories and accomplishments of Americans whose ancestors hailed from an incredibly wide swath of countries, from India to Japan to the Polynesian Islands. It’s a good time to educate yourself about the contributions these folks have made to the parts of your life you cherish today — I, personally, am forever indebted to the work of Joyce Chen, whose Boston restaurant pioneered American Chinese food in the 1950s and made it possible for me to revel in the glories of chow mein and crab rangoon in 2023.

In a region with more soul-warming, spicy, savory and sweet Asian and Pacific island-influenced eateries than one food writer could ever hope to hit in a lifetime, supporting these local businesses is a fabulous (and delicious) way to expand your palate, your horizons and your connection with your community.

Here, I’ve picked two favorite Snohomish County stops in no particular order for each meal of the day, plus dessert, of course. Celebrate this month by stopping by a few in the coming weeks, or, like I hope to do one of these days, clear your schedule and hit ‘em all at once.

Breakfast

Malasadas at GoodBelly, Everett

You can typically catch Alice Tum serving up piping-hot, pillowy malasadas — a Portuguese-born, Hawaiian-raised type of filled doughnut — at Everett’s Beverly Food Truck Park on Saturday mornings. But you better get up early to score a box, because lines can get notoriously insane — and when they’re out, they’re out.

You can get the malasadas — made from scratch each morning — plain ($25 for a dozen) with a simple coating of crunchy sugar, or filled ($40 a dozen) with a rotating cast of flavors such as ube, lemon and Bavarian cream.

Lori Johnson, director of the Washington State Food Truck Association shows off a box of fresh malasadas during the grand opening of the GoodBelly LLC food truck on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lori Johnson, director of the Washington State Food Truck Association shows off a box of fresh malasadas during the grand opening of the GoodBelly LLC food truck on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Tum, a Cambodian immigrant to the U.S., first caught the malasada bug on a trip to Hawaii in 2018. Her thoughts on the pastry?

“I was blown away,” she told The Daily Herald in February. “I was like, oh my god, this is so good.”

Tum got her start selling the doughnuts out of Bobby’s Hawaiian Restaurant in Lynnwood, where Hawaii-raised owner Robert Nakihei Jr. said they were as close as he’d ever gotten on the mainland to replicating the real deal. Follow GoodBelly on Facebook to catch the truck at its next stop and get a taste of Honolulu for yourself.

Hours and locations vary. Follow GoodBelly LLC on Facebook or Instagram @goodbelly.llc for the latest updates.

Corned beef hash loco moco at Kona Kitchen, Lynnwood

It would be pretty difficult to have an unsatisfying breakfast at Kona Kitchen, especially since you have all day to sample their extensive menu. The spot offers classic diner options such as omelets, French toast and eggs Benedict in traditional form and with Hawaiian infusions such as Portuguese sausage, pillowy sweet bread and, of course, lots of Spam. Stick around till afternoon to sample their lunch and dinner options, such as Spam musubi. And don’t forget their vibrant pink guava cake, a favorite of Herald reporter Ben Watanabe, whose family has coveted the dessert at the original Seattle location for years.

But for my money, the loco moco is where it’s at for putting a tropical spin on your morning. Choose from white rice or fried for your base, then top it with your choice of meat — options range from the traditional hamburger patty to Spam, chicken katsu or the restaurant’s famous BBQ Kalua pig — plus two fried eggs and a hefty helping of delicious brown gravy. Loco moco isn’t strictly a breakfast food, but with my favorite variation, the corned beef hash ($15 with white rice), plus the fried eggs, it’s a filling and comforting hangover remedy or anytime craving-crusher.

Kona Kitchen, 3805 196th St. SW, Lynnwood. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Lunch

Hot stone bowl bibimbap at K Fresh, Everett

I’m not sure I can think of a more ideal lunch than a heaping bowl of rice piled with veggies, protein and sweet-spicy sauce. Delicious Korean bibimbap is balanced, nutritious and filling without inspiring the snooze-fest I usually experience with a boring green lunch salad, but not so heavy that I feel too sluggish to finish the rest of my plans that afternoon.

The sizzling-hot bibimbap bowls at K Fresh in Everett are served in wood boxes, which acquire charred edges from the hot stone. (Sara Bruestle / The Herald)

The sizzling-hot bibimbap bowls at K Fresh in Everett are served in wood boxes, which acquire charred edges from the hot stone. (Sara Bruestle / The Herald)

Enter K Fresh near downtown Everett, which pretty much only does bibimbap, but in two delightful variations. Get your rice bowl to-go ($11 with one choice of protein) if you’re looking for a streamlined return to work, but if you have a little time to spare, linger in the cozy little dining room with a hot stone bowl bibimbap ($13 with one protein) instead. Served in a bowl carved out of stone and heated to sizzling hot, the rice at the bottom crisps on contact with the hot rock and turns into the most perfect, crunchy-caramelized addition to the meal.

For a set price, you can pick white or brown rice and top it with one protein (beef, chicken or vegan jackfruit bulgogi), your choice of five veggies or condiments and drizzle with spicy, sweet or mild sauce. My go-to order is white rice with beef, kimchi, sesame-roasted garlic and a handful of crunchy green veggies on top, doused in spicy sauce. Get a creamy mango shake on your way out the door to carry a little sweetness into your day.

K Fresh, 1105 Hewitt Ave., Everett. 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday.

Soy garlic chicken sandwich combo at Sweet Radish, Everett

It’s a testament to my willpower that I don’t order Sweet Radish for lunch six times a week, since I live just a mile or so away from the Korean-inspired south Everett chicken joint. It seems the spot has this effect on people: past Herald food writer Taylor Goebel was similarly hooked when she first tried their chicken last year.

Diane Kim, owner of Sweet Radish, rebranded the store last year from its former life as Korean eatery 9 Delicacies, wanting to offer a quick, affordable option for customers without sacrificing quality or flavor. Her Korean roots are woven into the menu: the house Sweet Radish sauce, the ultimate dipping choice for fries and sandwiches, is infused with sweet-hot gochujang, and the burgers come with thin marinated strips of bulgogi beef, not patties.

I’m a massive fan of their otherworldly chicken strip baskets and Brussels sprout fries, but recently I’ve been enamored with the soy garlic sandwich combo ($11.50): crispy hand-breaded chicken, thin slices of radish and crunchy shredded cabbage, perfectly sweet-savory glaze, plus waffle fries that easily crush the competition’s (looking at you, Chick-Fil-A!). The Watermelon Palmer, a house blend of watermelon lemonade and iced tea, is the ideal hit of acid to round out the meal.

Sweet Radish, 520 128th St. Suite B8, Everett. 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday.

Dinner

Laab moo and tam mak tua at Thai on Main Street, Monroe

This casual Monroe spot might have Thai right in the name, but it’s well worth the drive from Everett on a weeknight for its Lao offerings alone. The cuisine of Laos shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor, Thailand, making it approachable for new initiates without sacrificing a unique funky freshness, as past food writer Taylor Goebel reported last year.

Laab moo at Thai on Main Street Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Laab moo at Thai on Main Street Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

I’d never had Lao food before moving to Snohomish County, and the laab moo ($20 with Lao sticky rice, which I highly recommend) was a perfect starting point. Lao cuisine focuses heavily on ingredients readily available in the landlocked countryside, like sticky rice, pork and fresh herbs, which all feature prominently in the refreshing-yet-hearty pork salad. The tam mak tua ($15), a snappy salad of pounded green beans, cherry tomatoes and garlic in a savory dressing, are an ideal accompaniment.

Thai on Main Street co-owner (and member of our SnohomDish Facebook group) Amy Inthapanya told me in a Facebook comment that Lao and Thai breakfasts are typically savory and not much different from any other meal, but gave me the pro tip of trying some spicy, sinus-clearing tam mak tua for the morning meal — a tip I’ll keep in my hip pocket for the next time I’ve got leftovers eyeballing me from the fridge.

Thai on Main Street, 115 W Main St., Monroe. 11 a.m to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.

Bhindi do pyaza, gobi Manchurian and aloo tikkiya at Curries, Everett

Indian takeout has long been my go-to order when I’m feeling sad, sick or just too lazy to cook. If I’m really down in the dumps, sometimes nothing will do but good old chicken tikka masala, a decidedly un-Indian Indian dish of creamy tomato sauce and spices. Curries, a takeout-only joint on Evergreen in Everett, has that classic down, believe me. But with their far-reaching menu spanning all the flavors and spices of regional Indian cuisines, I’m now on a mission to explore everything they’ve got to offer.

The gobhi Manchurian from Curries in Everett, Washington. (Deep S. Sidhu / Curries)

The gobhi Manchurian from Curries in Everett, Washington. (Deep S. Sidhu / Curries)

Garlic naan ($3) is always the first thing added to cart at my house, followed by aloo tikkiya ($5), a starter of spiced potato patties with tamarind and mint chutneys for dipping. It’s got all the comforting warmth of a hashbrown, but with a far greater depth of flavor. Gobi Manchurian ($9) is also technically a starter, but I’ve been known to hog the whole dish for myself; it’s cauliflower tossed in a sticky, sweet sauce with crunchy red peppers and dried chilies, popular in Chinese restaurants in South Asia.

And I must credit my partner for bringing bhindi do pyaza ($11), a vegan curry with okra and caramelized onion, to my attention. The smoky, layered dish from North India, laced with puckery amla powder made from dried unripe mango, is a delicious counterpoint to the heavy, creamy curries more popular in South Indian-influenced American restaurants.

Curries in Everett, 7318 Evergreen Way #101, Everett. Open for takeout only. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner every day.

Dessert

Strawberry Nutella bubble waffle, LUMI Dessert Cafe, Lynnwood

Listen, I’ll eat waffles for any meal of the day, any time. But make them fluffy, brioche-like bubble waffles, layer on the fresh berries and drizzle the whole plate in Nutella? Say no more. The waffles are topped with honey-oat granola for crunch, but the marshmallows and Snoqualmie Creamery fudge ice cream push this treat firmly into dessert territory.

The strawberry Nutella bubble waffle at LUMI Dessert Cafe. (Photo provided by LUMI Dessert Cafe)

The strawberry Nutella bubble waffle at LUMI Dessert Cafe. (Photo provided by LUMI Dessert Cafe)

LUMI in Lynnwood only does desserts, inspired by Korean sweets like bingsu, a snowy shaved-ice confection in more flavors than you can count. The bubble waffles are a popular street food originating in Hong Kong, where they’re usually plain or simply adorned so you can eat on the go — a feat I wouldn’t recommend attempting with this particular plate.

LUMI Dessert Cafe, 4713 168th St SW #101, Lynnwood. 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Ube cheese soft serve, Enseamada Cafe, Everett

This Filipino cafe in south Everett has a lot of credits to its name: heaping portions of savory-sweet glazed pork in its adobo bowls, creative coffee drinks and its namesake ensaymadas — sweet, buttery brioche buns that would be as welcome for breakfast as for dessert. If it’s pure decadence you’re after, you could do worse than picking one of the many halo-halo flavors, like pandan or banana con yelo.

But as an ice cream fanatic, a recent addition to Enseamada’s menu caught my eye: ube cheese soft serve. Swirled to a classic point, the vivid purple ube makes a striking display, and doused in the cafe’s sweet “snow powder,” it’s almost too pretty to eat. But the combination of the nutty ube and salty, creamy cheese were too much to resist, and I’ve been dreaming about it every day since.

Enseamada Cafe, 11114 Evergreen Way, Everett. 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.

Riley Haun: 425-339-3192; riley.haun@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @RHaunID.

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