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Ping Tom Park Chicago, photo by Alejandro Reyes (1)
Ping Tom Park Chicago, photo by Alejandro Reyes

DNC Guide: Asian Culture

Dive into Asian Heritage in Chicago

Chicago is proud to welcome visitors from around the world to our great city for the Democratic National Convention 2024. While you’re here, we invite you to come experience what makes Chicago a city like no other — and why we’ve been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented seven years in a row.

Chicago is home to a melting pot of Asian cultures, from one of the oldest Chinese communities in the country to a buzzing cultural corridor in Uptown. These diverse neighborhoods showcase Asian culture through unique museums, stunning public art, and family-owned restaurants passed down through generations. Here’s your guide to experiencing Asian art, cuisine, and history throughout Chicago.

We’ve created these Chicago guides with five specially curated activities to help DNC visitors experience different aspects of our great city. To delve deeper and make the most out of your time in Chicago, keep exploring with our guide at the link below.

 

Explore our Asian history guide to Chicago

 

1. Admire the artwork of Asia

The Nine Dragon wall in Chinatown
Chinatown; photo by Adam Alexander

In the Bridgeport neighborhood, the Heritage Museum of Asian Art houses works that span a vast range of Asian cultures and time periods. The museum’s collection includes archaic and modern jades, Neolithic pottery, imperial porcelains, scholar’s objects, textiles, bronzes, and a whole lot more

The Art Institute of Chicago houses an impressive collection of Asian art that stretches back nearly five millennia. Admire work representative of Asia’s major artistic traditions, including Chinese jade and ceramics, Japanese screens and woodblock prints, Indian miniature paintings, Korean celadon, and beyond.

The city’s Chinatown neighborhood is adorned with public art. The Nine Dragon Wall is modeled after Beijing’s famous wall and is one of only three replicas outside of China. Chinatown Square is where you’ll find a collection of Chinese Zodiac animal sculptures and a tile mosaic that contains 100,000 individually cut pieces of hand-painted glass from China.

2. Delve into Asian history

Field Museum
These bottles once held snuff, a mixture of powdered tobacco, herbs, and spices , which is inhaled as a stimulant. In the 17th century, European missionaries and diplomats introduced the Chinese emperor to snuff. It gained popularity among the court’s inner circles, then spread to scholar – officials and others .
© The Field Museum

The Chinese American Museum of Chicago has a long-held mission of promoting the culture and history of Chinese Americans in Chicago and beyond. Their permanent exhibit Great Wall to Great Lakes tells the story of Chinese immigration to the Midwest through first-hand stories. They also host events like community workshops, screenings, and talks.

The Cambodian American Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving Cambodian culture and acting as a resource for Cambodian refugees and immigrants in the Chicago area. The exhibits are vivid and immersive, showcasing traditions and history that have been kept alive through centuries of hardship. It also covers ancient and modern history, the refugee experience, and more.

At the Field Museum, the Cyrus Tang Hall of China includes hundreds of artifacts that tell the complex story of China’s history and shifting role in the world. See a 27-foot scroll painting, recovered cargo from a sunken trading vessel, and more objects from the Neolithic period to modern day.

3. Sample traditional and modern Asian cuisine

Nha Hang in Uptown
Nha Hang in Uptown

In Chinatown, dig into steaming bowls of noodles at Strings Ramen, enjoy Cantonese specialties at Evergreen Restaurant, warm up with hot soup dumplings at Qing Xiang Yuan>, or enjoy classic dim sum at MingHin Cuisine. Grab a traditional mooncake or baked pork bun at Chiu Quon, the neighborhood’s oldest bakery.

For an extensive menu of authentic Vietnamese food in the Uptown neighborhood, head over to Nhà Hàng. If you’re craving phở, walk down to Phở 777 where you can choose from more than 20 varieties of the popular noodle soup.

Take a stroll down Devon Avenue to feast on vegan Indian fusion at Arya Bhavan, Pakistani-Indian cuisine at Usmania Fine Dining, and Japanese and Chinese dishes at Hamachi Sushi. Sample authentic desserts (like luscious halva and baklava) at Tahoora Sweets and Bakery.

In other areas of the city, dine on maki rolls at Sushi Dokku, banh mi at Saigon Sisters, dim sum at MingHin, modern Indian dishes at ROOH, and traditional Vietnamese cuisine at HaiSous.

4. Explore historic Asian communities

West Ridge
West Ridge

Chicago’s century-old Chinatown is a thriving hub for Chinese culture and community. Stroll through elaborately adorned streets filled with traditional specialty shops, ornate architecture, storefronts packed with colorful wares and souvenirs, and family-owned restaurants with dishes you’ll be craving long after you’re home.

Uptown’s Asia on Argyle is a vibrant cultural corridor home to authentic Southeast Asian cuisines and locally owned businesses. The area was transformed in the 1970s by refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia along with Chinese entrepreneurs. Today, people can enjoy a wide range of places to eat, shop, and explore, from trying a rich bowl of phở to buying a new bonsai tree.

The West Ridge neighborhood is a true urban melting pot and has long been known as Chicago’s “Little India.” Spend some time exploring bustling Devon Avenue, the neighborhood’s welcoming international marketplace featuring restaurants and shops that represent countries from throughout the Middle East, Asia, and beyond.

5. Experience cultural events

Asia on Argyle Night Market

Come back to Chicago at the beginning of the year for Lunar New Year. There are lively celebrations throughout the city, with much of the fanfare is concentrated around Chinatown and Uptown. That’s where you’ll find the city’s two Lunar New Year parades, that fill the streets with traditional lion and dragon dances, live music, colorful floats, and more. You’ll also find events all across Chicago, including cultural celebrations, lantern processions, culinary events, free concerts, and more.

Celebrate the start of summer at the Chinatown Summer Fair with cultural demonstrations, traditional dances, and food from Chinatown restaurants. And the Asia onArgyle Night Market is a summertime staple in the Uptown neighborhood, with delicious street food, live music, and more.

Explore all Chicago DNC guides