May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the good news is you don’t have to leave the nabe — or even pass more than a few stores along Manhattan or Franklin — to celebrate. And what’s one of the best way to celebrate? By supporting Greenpoint’s many thriving AAPI-owned businesses, this and every month.
AAPI Heritage Month honors the robust contributions Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to United States politics, arts, and culture — and those influences run strong even in our nabe. Just this year, noticing the uptick in fresh shops, The New York Times said, “Japanese chic takes root in Brooklyn: In Greenpoint, new businesses are cropping up, making it a contender for Little Tokyo status.”
Of course, Greenpoint is also home to more than just stores for Japanophiles. Below, Greenpointers highlights just some of the many fantastic AAPI-led businesses that make our home so special.
Food and Drink
Greenpoint boasts a variety of cuisines and dining styles, whether you’re looking for a chill afternoon date, an elevated night out, or an on-the-couch night in. For bevs, try Sama Street (988 Manhattan Ave), named for a Hindu concept of equanimity and home to unique and dynamic Asian-influenced cocktails, including the Tiger’s Milk (a frothy combo of cold brew, vodka, and condensed milk with egg) and highly popular Lucy Liu (a tiki delight with chili oil washed tequila, lychee, and coconut, given a zing with some vanilla and lime). It’s a casual environment for popping in (or sipping al fresco), but a reservation never hurts.
You can also score meals at Wasabi (638 Manhattan Ave), which hosts an annual tuna cutting ceremony. Long beloved in the community, Wasabi is Greenpoint’s oldest Japanese restaurant, treating patrons for two decades strong.
And for an even more upscale experience, try U Omakase (173 Greenpoint Ave), the neighborhood’s sole omakase restaurant, or one with a Japanese chef’s tasting menu. Named for its U-shaped eating area, U Omakase offers something unique: just 13 patrons get to experience the chef’s menu each night, and coming in small groups or solo allows for a communal experience that promises to delight. Get ready for some oysters, caviar, and torched madai! Head over to The Hidden Pearl (621 Manhattan Ave) for a speakeasy-esque nightcap afterward; this intimate cocktail bar, stationed in the back of Wanpaku, offers adventurous cocktails, some with a briny, spicy, or rare spirits-forward twist.
But if you are seeking something more chill, there are takeout joints galore that always pick up the slack when there’s no time to cook on a busy weeknight. enerugi Ramen just opened at 1020 Manhattan Ave, offering dine in and take out, and there are longtime Greenpoint staples, such as Thai Cafe (925 Manhattan Ave) and Shanghai Lee (157 Franklin Street). The latter offers great, affordable Chinese food, and frequenters will note that the family business has grown over the years: the owners’ not-so-little kids now work the register!
Art and Decor
No stranger to galleries, Greenpoint also offers a number of artistic offerings for neighbors and visitors alike. Take in the legendary Yoko Ono’s Ex It, an indoor arboretum art exhibit now at Faurschou (148 Green Street). That free museum changes exhibitions every six months, and Ono’s opened just last month and is on display through September 17. Spring may have sprung outdoors, but Ono’s gorgeous trees also bring the outside inside, complete with organic floral scents.
50 Norman offers one-of-a-kind art, and here you can walk of the shop with some of your own. A sprawling space that’s home to a triumvirate of stores — HOUSE Brooklyn, Dashi Okume, and Cibone — 50 Norman is more experiential than retail. Drool over some of Cibone’s exquisite homemade goods, including ceramic plates, copper scissors, hot pots, and more. It’s a feast for the eyes.
Tea and Groceries
Our nabe is also home to some Asian-centric markets, including a recent addition, Mitsuki (703 Manhattan Ave). “I am a business owner, and during my research, I found that Greenpoint has many Japanese restaurants, Chinese restaurants, and Korean nail stores, but no Japanese mini-markets,” owner Jay Cao had told Greenpointers ahead of the store’s opening last year. The store offers fresh sushi, Japanese snacks, beer, and household goods — and also an anime design!
A few blocks over, Kettl (70 Greenpoint Ave) is a tea drinker’s heaven, importing their products directly from Japan. The space features tea to go, a tasting counter, a collection of ceramics, retail teas, Japanese incense, and select home goods.