May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, an opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who have enriched Monterey County’s history and are influential in its future success.

To show your support year-round to the AAPI community, choose to shop at local AAPI-owned businesses found throughout Monterey County. Read on for a round-up of some amazing businesses found in our destination including dining spots, retailers, event owners and more.



Rooted at the heart of his Grandma Naomi’s recipe, Joonya Lopez started making his own Laulau, a Hawaiian dish made out of pork and salted butterfish wrapped in lu'au leaves and ti leaves. Today Joonya and his family run the company, doing pop-ups and catered events. Joonya is also the owner of a shaved ice trailer that you can find parked outside of Pezzini Farms, serving delicious shaved ice treats and Hawaiian snacks.  

Hong’s Market

Located in Marina, this family business has been open since 1979 and one of the highlights of the store is the owner, energetic and super sweet Mrs. Hong! Hong’s Market specializes in Korean staples like kimchi and banchans. They are also well known for their selection of quality meats for Korean BBQ and hot pot. Follow them on Instagram to get an inside look on how they cook dinners at home using groceries from their store. They regularly provide advice, recommendations, and tips to recreate their dishes at home.  

Daddy’s Diner  

Daddy’s Diner is a long-time favorite spot located in Marina. Owner, Jordan Kausin’s father used to own City Diner in Seaside, and Jordan continued the tradition by opening up his own place in Marina and the crowds followed! They serve up some delicious comfort food for breakfast and lunch.  

Cheesecake Dreamations 

Cheesecake Dreamations in Marina, run by Melissa Yeater and Robert Mosqueda, offer mini cheesecakes of all flavors including Oreo, lemon, dreamsicle, and specialty flavors like Butterfinger, hot cheeto and pineapple upside down cake. You can also create your own custom cheesecake dreamation by choosing size, crust, cheesecake flavor and toppings.  

The Butterhouse  

There is always a line for this popular breakfast and brunch spot in Seaside, owned by Ben Mosqueda. Try a house specialty like the “The Queen Marciana’s Hand Rolled Lumpia” or “the Filipino Breakfast.” 

Folktale Winery

Nestled in Carmel Valley, Folktale is a one-of-a-kind winery owned by husband and wife Gregory and Madigan Ahn. offering tours & wine tastings daily, live music every weekend, and concerts and special events every month. Their in-house shop, Folktale Provisions, offers a unique array of home goods, art, books and organic food and drink. Gregory and Madigan also own Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse and Rise + Roam Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Valnizza's Deli & Market

Owned by John and Cindy Bae, Valnizza's is a deli, market and liquor store serving sandwiches with homemade, oven-roasted turkey, tri-tip, meatballs, and more.


India Fashion Trends

This little shop in Marina has a huge selection of beautiful designs. The owner Rana is extremely friendly and offers alterations for any of the clothing purchased.   

Cha-ya Japanese Tea & Things 

This adorable shop is located in the heart of Downtown Monterey and home to exclusive Japanese teas, gifts and one-of-a-kind imports. Along with great gifts, Cha-ya offers special events, classes and guest speakers to educate the Monterey Bay area on Japanese culture and traditions.  

Tokyo Oriental Foods & Gifts 

This tiny, unique store in Salinas offers many staples for Asian dishes, as well as many unique Japanese snacks and sweets, cookbooks, dishware, housewares, and even Japanese films for rent. You can also find fresh fish and vegetables here!


Whisper Charters 

Whisper Charters in Moss Landing, owned and operated by Joonya Lopez, offers private party charters through the Elkhorn Slough.  

Kolabo Entertainment 

Kolabo Entertainment is owned and operated by July Barred and features elite DJs of the Monterey Bay. Book them for local events and weddings!  

Earthbound Tattoo Studio  

Owner and Operator of Earthbound Tattoo in Sand City, Marlo Lualemana has a huge national and international following. People travel nationwide and globally to get tattoos from her.

If you know of other AAPI-owned businesses in Monterey County that should be on the list, please share their details with us via