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“I get the fellow South Asians who come in here and they are like, ‘Wow, we have never seen our household ingredients incorporated in such a way,'” said owner Uzma Sharif.
Baking is in her blood.
“My grandfather was a pastry chef in Pakistan. He had seven daughters. All of them knew how to bake, so with my mom being here without family, she always baked in the house,” Sharif said.
Chocolat Uzma is one of more than 30 businesses in the city and suburbs taking part in the inaugural AAPI Restaurants Week. The participating restaurants are offering specials.
“We wanted to showcase restaurants owned by people of AAPI descent,” said Mabel Menard, OCA Greater Chicago president.
The AAPI community is the fastest growing racial group in the U.S. And within this group, there’s a lot of diversity. And that plays out in many ways, including in the cuisine.
“Going out to Chinese is very common, but we really want to showcase cuisines that people are less familiar with,” Menard said.
For some, that includes Hawaiian food. Aloha Eats serves Hawaiian street food in Lincoln Park. It’s been open since 2004.
“Chicago is a very foodie city. They are very open to a lot of different types of food. We want to show people how people eat. It’s not just pineapples. It’s not just poke. There is more to it,” said owner Isabel Lee.
AAPI Restaurants Week runs through May 22.
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