Asian Avenue Magazine - March 2023

Page 1


Celebrating Asian American women in Colorado

Community Vigil

Honors Victims of Monterey Park & Half Moon Bay

Restaurant Peeks

Kyu Ramen

Shin Myung


March 2023 Volume 18 | Issue 3


Thank you to our Editorial Director Mary J. Schultz for putting together much of this issue of Asian Avenue Magazine. You will find her byline on nearly all of this month’s articles! In this issue, Mary interviews Asian American women in Colorado to showcase their wide breadth of skills and talents across various industries. She also features the story of Japas Cervejaria, the Japanese-Brazilian beer brand that can be found on shelves in Colorado stores and markets—created by a trio of women.


Happy Women’s History Month!

While we celebrate women every day of the year, March is an extra special time for us to recognize and honor the women in our lives (including ourselves)!

The two restaurants featured this month are also owned by Asian American women: (1) Kyu Ramen, owned by Saki Melius, is preparing to reopen in its new Denver location on Colfax; and (2) Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ, owned by Hannah Cho, is a Korean favorite along the On Havana Street corridor. Both women take pride in serving their customers with high-quality ingredients, and also believe in treating their staff like family.

February was a busy month with Lunar New Year celebrations winding down and the inaugural Mile High Asian Food Week. Our local Denver community organized a vigil in honor of the victims from the California mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, and the Day of Remembrance event at History Colorado also served as a reminder of the past injustices towards Japanese Americans. Our community continues to grow stronger together. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event!

March 2023 | President’s Note 4
Annie Guo VanDan, President Asian Avenue magazine Connect
with us!
As Mayor, he plans to: End homelessness in his first term by providing more housing and service options Create a path to home-ownership for all Denver residents Increase access for minority-led businesses to city funds Build 25,000 units of affordable housing
is a former educator, State Senator, and CEO of Gary Community Ventures.
Paid for by Mike Johnston for Mayor
TUES FRI 9am - 6pm SAT 9am - 1pm

on the cover

This March, we celebrate the contributions and achievements of Asian American women across varied industries and sectors in Colorado.

Asian Avenue magazine (ISSN 1932-1449) reserves all copyrights to this issue. No parts of this edition can be reproduced in any manner without written permission. The views expressed in articles are the authors’ and not necessarily those of Asian Avenue magazine

Looking to promote your business? Asian Avenue magazine offers businesses a costeffective way to reach consumers in the Denver/Boulder metro areas and beyond. For more information, call 303.937.6888 or e-mail us at for our media kit and ad rates. Send story ideas to

Asian Avenue magazine is in association with the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network.

MARCH 2023


8 GET OUT THE VOTE: Long-time community leader Howard Chou runs for Chair of Colorado Democratic Party

10 COVER STORY: Women’s History Month: Celebrating Asian American women in Colorado

14 FEATURE: “Fighting to be Seen” report released with suggestions for media to better include AAPI Voices


THEATRE REVIEW: Aubergine play elevates themes of family and loss to the theatre stage



P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222 Tel: 303.937.6888



FEATURE: Japanese-Brazilian beer company Japas Cervejaria begins Colorado distribution



Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ




ART: Local Filipino artist illustrates depictions for a WWII documentary

ON SCENE: Community vigil honors victims of California shootings

ON SCENE: Mile High Asian Food Week highlights Asian food and beverage



6 March 2023 | Event Calendar
us @AsianAveMag #Asian

upcoming events

CO Dragon Boat Film Festival

March 9-12

Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E Colfax Ave, Denver

Tickets and festival passes:

Check out the lineup:

Zotto - Immersive Show

March 17-26

Sakura Square | 1255 19th St, Denver Tickets: $65

Back by popular demand, ZOTTO returns to Sakura Square! An immersive and multi-sensory supernatural Japanese folktale and theatrical journey, audiences explore three generations of Japanese American women and their relationship to Denver’s rich yet sordid history as they encounter yokai and obake (Japanese spirits and demons), discover hidden secrets within forgotten spaces, and engage with interactive elements that consider relationships between intention and impact.

The four-day all Asian/Asian American Film Festival is themed “Celebrating Our Stories,” to honor individuals, organizations and films that highlight the rich cultures and experiences of AAPI communities. The festival will also feature community conversations and live Q&As with filmmakers.

Denver’s Biggest Holi Celebration 2023

Sunday, March 12

12:30pm to 1:30pm Lunch | 1:30pm Fun Begins

Hindu Temple of The Rockies

7201 S Potomac St, Centennial

Tickets: $20 Adult | $10 Child

Join the Hindu Temple of Colorado for Denver’s largest Holi celebration! Lunch, parking and a live DJ are included with each ticket. Colors are available for purchase. Holi is a Hindu spring festival, known as the festival of color, that celebrates the love of god Krishna.

Asian Pacific Islander Community Day

Saturday, March 18 | 1pm to 5pm

Anthem Music Enterprises

975 Garden of the Gods Road, CO Springs Cost: Free and open to the public Reserve a spot at:

Anthem Music Enterprises is excited to host the first Asian Pacific Islander Community Day brought to you by the newly established Asian Pacific Islander Business Community. Connect with other local API business owners and families and enjoy API food trucks and entertainment. Kids are welcome!


Empowering Voices: AAPI Community Requests

Support from Law Enforcement

Saturday, March 18 | 1pm to 3pm Filipino-America Community 1900 North Harlan St, Edgewater Cost: Free and open to the public

This town hall meeting gives the Colorado AAPI community an in-person opportunity to share AAPI hate incidents that they had experienced or are aware of in the past year. Many of these incidents have not been told or reported due to cultural hesitation, language barriers, or limited reporting access. Refreshments and conversations to follow the program. Limited seating is available.

Cultural Roots Night Market and Mix-tape

Sunday, April 2 | 6:30pm to 9pm History Colorado Center 1200 N Broadway, Denver Event is free, but RSVP is required

Join the History Colorado Center to celebrate the contributions of the API community in Colorado through the sharing of food, festivity, and art! Enjoy specialty foods, explore crafts and goods from API culture-bearers, and speak with local API organizations about their work in the community, as the interactive art exhibition Colorado’s Asian Food Culture: Rice and Resilience closes.

Event Calendar | Asian Avenue Magazine 7
community events to

Howard Chou runs for Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party

The Colorado Democratic Party will select their new chair on April 1, 2023. All party officer positions are up for elections every two years. Morgan Carroll will be stepping down as chair of the Colorado Democratic Party after leading the state party for six years.

Endorsed by dozens of elected officials and leaders across Colorado and nationally, Howard Chou has been a long-time community organizer and activist. To learn more about Chou and support his run for chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, visit or connect with him on Facebook @howardforCDP.

and explore joint fundraising opportunities. This position also gives me a vote in negotiating DNC terms.

I have worked in messaging through market research for over 17 years including messaging on Barack Obama’s Hope and Change campaigns in 2008 and 2012 along with message testing in three other Presidential elections. I will bring that expertise and know-how and implement it throughout the state.

You talked about community work with organizations - share more about that.

Why are you running for chair of the CO Democratic Party?

As Vice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party since 2018, I have worked tirelessly to help build the success that our party has accomplished in electing Democrats everywhere, giving us majorities in the State House, Senate and Statewide offices.

Those electoral successes have allowed CO Democrats in office to pass policies and laws to protect women’s reproductive health, fight climate change, provide more equity in all of our underserved communities and many other things to help lift people.

As an Asian immigrant who grew up in a low income, single parent home and experiencing things like hunger and trouble accessing healthcare, I realized the inequities in our system that needed impactful change. Within the Democratic Party, we can shape people’s lives by bringing our values to the capital and government through the champions we elect.

How are you qualified to be Chair?

I have been committed to service for a very long time being an elected volunteer at all levels of the Democratic Party including Precinct Committee Person (PCP), House District organizer, Chair and Founder of the AAPI initiative and Vice Chair of the Colorado Democrats.

Building communities and partnerships with organizations at the grassroots level to give Democrats a brand that will expand our base and bring in the identity of our values to the forefront.

I have a proven track record working alongside the current Chair Morgan Carroll. Together we have built an infrastructure that has led the party to historic wins in the last three election cycles.

I will bring national leadership to the Chair position as I am the elected Treasurer of the Association of State Democratic Committees (state party branch of the DNC) in which I oversee 57 states and territories budget and finance, determine best vendor and co-op programs

I am all about community building - it’s what I have been doing for a long time now working with people and organizations at the grassroots level. I have worked with organizations like Asian Pacific Development Center to help immigrants achieve citizenship, with ACLU to help Park Hill Youth and Students understand their rights, with NAACP to build bridges between Black and AAPI communities along with many others.

Building strong partnerships with these and many other local organizations will help the Democratic Party uplift our underserved communities everywhere across the state.

What would you bring to this role?

Reach out and engage more racial and ethnic communities all across the state through the community building I have already been doing. As Chair I will amplify the volume and reproduce these efforts into even more areas across the state.

Focus on issues impacting voters and target unaffiliated voters (there are 700,000 more unaffiliated voters than

March 2023 | Get Out the Vote 8

Democrats) - whether they are worker’s rights voters, racial justice voters, or a litany of other progressive issue voters, we need to invest in those voters and define where the Democratic Party’s values stand in fighting for such issues.

Develop real messaging that resonates with people using my expertise in the subject matter. Colorado is a large and diverse state with a variety of cultural, geographic and industrial specific demographics and we will need custom messaging that people will better relate to.

Invest in better rural engagement which includes targeted messaging, media breakthroughs, and leadership from within.

What would it mean for you to be elected?

I would be the first Asian and first immigrant to ever serve as chair of Colorado. I would be proud and honored to serve in this regard and amplify the work that I have already been doing to the next level.

This would also define the importance and impact of grassroots work by em-

powering more voices within our party that we elected a chair that has risen up in the same ways and same work that our countless volunteers have been doing all along.

What motivates you to fight so hard?

You know, my grandfather died fighting against communism before I was born and my grandmother had to flee from Shanghai to Taiwan by boat. Her boat was boarded so to avoid capture, she jumped into ocean waters.

She was rescued by the US Navy and brought to the US where she was detained under refugee status until she was granted asylum and eventually became a citizen. She worked for years sending money back home until she could sponsor two of my cousins’ family and my family over to the US in 1980.

I know what it’s like not to have the freedoms and liberties we have in the US. I know what it’s like not to have democracy. Their lives, their sacrifices are what drives me every single day. They inspire me to be better, to do more to defend our democracy.

HOWARD CHOU is a grassroots activist and organizer who works in the community to champion issues such as climate care, immigrant rights and racial justice.

He is the current 1st Vice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party and the Chair of AAPI of Colorado Dems. Howard is a husband and father of two kids living in Douglas County.

Mortgages Online and Mobile Banking Business Services Savings Accounts And Much More! Checking Accounts 1 800 964 3444 NMLS ID # 458768 | Member FDIC Visit us online or at any convenient location. See us for all
Howard Chou | Asian Avenue Magazine 9


March is all about women! This is the month we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. This month celebrates women for all their contributions – many who continue to work in male-dominated spaces and often for less pay.

Since 1909, International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8. Devoted to celebrating the achievements of women, it reminds us to give women a greater voice to further their demands for equal rights.

Universities around Colorado are offering panel discussions, leadership symposiums and gender conferences to raise awareness about the achievements of International Women’s Day. Government entities, nonprofits, and organizations in partnership with media and corporations throughout Asia are celebrating this day to showcase the contributions of women in technology and digital spaces.

In this issue, Asian Avenue magazine shares the perspectives of talented and courageous Asian American women in Colorado, who are impacting the sectors they work in. The diversity in their ethnic backgrounds, passions and interests, as well as their career paths show that women really can do it all!

Visit for more ideas on how to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Do you know someone who is making great strides in their career? We would love to share their story! Reach out to us at or via social media @asianavemag


Age: 38

Ethnicity: Chinese American

Occupation: Art Director-Designer

Boulder resident Dorothea Lee provides strategic and thoughtful art direction and graphic design, helping companies develop their brand and use elevated and cohesive visuals to speak to their target audience and achieve their business goals. She has designed for startups and nonprofits to agencies, consumer goods, and corporate Fortune 500s. Some past work includes Scholastic, Leblon Cachaça, and Think!Chinatown.

How would you describe your job?

As a one-woman company, I do everything from the design work to the pitching, project management, and admin tasks. Every day and week are different depending on the client and the projects, and I view this variety as a positive for keeping me on my toes and the creativity flowing!

What advice do you have for students curious about graphic design?

Design from a place of curiosity and empathy—recognizing assumptions and asking good questions deepen understanding and help you connect with your client and audience on a much better level, which only helps you make better design choices.

As a Chinese American woman designer of 15+ years, Lee has fought against the societal expectations of what her ethnicity and gender should mean in the workplace. She believes diverse voices and leadership are imperative in the art and design industry.

What do you love about this work?

I love the satisfaction of creatively and visually solving complex problems with others, and learning more about every subject I design around in the process. The thing I’ve been appreciating most recently, however, is finding that there is space for leaning into my identity, and that it has actually furthered the success of projects.

Being intersectional and keeping my own world diverse enables me to better empathize and represent minority groups in the materials I design. Some of the work I’m most proud of include a children’s book that won approval of a First Nations leader and a bilingual series that includes a wider spectrum of people and abilities not evident in the original manuscript. Even turning down opportunities that don’t fit me has given me a better appreciation of my own identity, the many ways we’re beautifully different, and excitement about finding room for others.

What are your hobbies/interests?

I love nature and travel, exploring personal projects, thrifting, and my derpy rescue dog Toby Falkorson.

March 2023 | Cover Story 10


Age: 36

Ethnicity: Chinese Indonesian

Occupation: President & Head Rainmaker of Kasih Initiative

Tanny and her family immigrated from Indonesia to the US when she was two years old. She grew up in Denver and is highly involved in the community. She loves the outdoors, playing the ukulele, traveling, and anything related to zombies.

Stephanie Tanny has won national leadership awards including NAPAWF’s Top 15 Asian American Women Leaders in 2011. She has been interviewed by MSNBC, Denver Westword, The White House Project, and has appeared live on C-SPAN and at TEDxMileHigh. As an international speaker, she has shared the stage with public figures such as President Bill Clinton, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, and John Oliver from Last Week Tonight.

How would you describe your job?

What I love most about our work is that we get to help Executive Directors make a greater impact by taking care of the stuff that not a lot of other people like – raising money, writing grant proposals, and calculating project budgets. I care very deeply about issues such as sustainable communities, restoring the ecosystem, conservation, and environmental justice. And I also just love helping others achieve their own dreams of impact.

Even the name of our company - ‘Kasih’ is an Indonesian word that means both to give and to love, which is how we view our work - as conduits for money to flow to causes we care about.

What advice do you have for students curious about nonprofit management?

There are many professional avenues to pursue within a nonprofit. For our work, we focus on the one that is in the highest demand: fundraising, specifically grant writing and tracking.

If you like to work independently behind the scenes; have a competitive spirit and strategic mind; and are interested in making a real impact in the world with your writing skills, I suggest looking for an internship as a grant writer - in fact, reach out to us at

What do you want to be known for?

Making our planet a more harmonious place to live and thrive - for humans and animals alike.

The Origin of Kasih Initiative

I never thought the most traumatic moment of my life would lead me to my purpose. As a survivor of sexual assault, I learned firsthand the traumatizing ways in which the administration at my university handled these cases. I was shocked and angry at the injustice of it all - and I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that experience.

I ended up starting a movement and passing a bill during those college years that has now provided over $2 million dollars for sexual violence support services and prevention education at my alma mater, Colorado State University.

These experiences helped me realize my passion and my strength - raising money and resourcing worthy causes to make the world a better place.

11 Celebrating Women | Asian Avenue Magazine


Ethnicity: Third generation Japanese American from Los Angeles

Occupation: General Adult and Forensic Psychiatrist

Fukutaki’s parents were in Japanese internment camps (Poston and Gila Bend) and sacrificed to support her through Yale University for her undergraduate degree.

How would you describe your job?

I am often tasked with performing evaluations and offering opinions regarding “the state of mind at the time of the commission of the alleged act or acts” as a criminal forensic psychiatrist. My work sometimes requires me to testify in court. My passion, however, is providing clinical care to the disadvantaged and seriously mentally ill.

What do you want to be known for?

I would like to be known as a loyal, dependable friend who tries to help others.

Karen Fukutaki’s extensive experience includes providing clinical care in inpatient and outpatient community and forensic settings. She has worked at mental health centers in Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. She has worked at Denver Health Medical Center, Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan, Department of Corrections, and Division of Youth Corrections.

Age: 50

Ethnicity: Filipino

Occupation: Senior Manager/ Director

Egonio-Norman immigrated to the US when she was 14 years old with the sponsorship of her aunt and uncle. During her first week in the US, she attended a membership meeting in Aurora to meet other Filipinos with her aunt and uncle, who had been volunteering since the early 80’s.

What are your hobbies/interests?

I have discovered that I obtain deep satisfaction from growing food and feeding others. I’ve had productive vegetable gardens the last three summers. I continue my quest to speak Italian fluently, have keen interests in travel and F1 racing, exercise regularly, maintain three sourdough starters that I use almost every week in various cooking projects (giving much of what I make to my friends), and enjoy socializing and laughing with my friends.


How would you describe your job?

I have been in senior management for more than 25 years from running a small automation business to leading a large contact center. I enjoy working with people but I especially love helping people.

My workday consists of multi-tasking between my full-time job and FACC. After my regular workday I go home to make dinner for my family. After dinner, I start working on more FACC stuff. From responding email, looking for grants, ways to save FACC money and raise money.

What do you want to be known for?

Being an individual that helps others recognize their purpose and inspires them to believe they can make a difference.

Growing up, Vivian Egonio-Norman observed the formation and growth of the Filipino American Community of Colorado, known as FACC, in Edgewater. She now serves as the president of the grass-roots organization.

What are your hobbies/interests?

I love cooking for my family and friends, and I love the outdoors. When we are not at FACC my husband and I love hiking, or we are in Florida at our oasis enjoying the beach.

March 2023 | Cover Story 12


Age: 37

Ethnicity: Laotian

Occupation: Vice President of Talent

Sayavong is originally from Hawaii, where her parent’s settled after immigrating from Laos in the 80s. She is the president of National Association of Asian American Professionals - Colorado.

Janie Sayavong works in human resources, creating a connection for top organizations and the best people! She loves what she does. From developing strategies to attract the talent you need, or managing human experiences when we sadly must scale down.

She had the opportunity to work with some of the best known companies and do some pretty great work in the talent space

• attract and manage employment brand

• recruiting process mapping and consulting

• employee experience, onboarding and engagement

• scalable sourcing and recruitment

• recruiting training and compliance

• culture, diversity and inclusion strategy

• all the while having a lot of fun and meeting some great people along the way!

How would you describe your job?

I help organizations find the talent they need, to make amazing things happen. I’m a Talent Executive, with a decade of experience in Talent Acquisition a speciality in the field of Human Resources. I have worked with Fortune 500 companies, private multi-billion organizations in multiple industries.

What advice do you have for students curious about human resources?

I work in a space that is dynamic, it’s always changing and I love working with people. There is no ‘single’ path but a couple things help set you up for success:

• Networking: Get to know and understand how people work. At the end of the day, a job is done by people. People connect with each other and relationships develop from your personal and professional Network are valuable.

• Education: Whether it’s formal through a 4 year degree, or a certification - you need to continue learning and developing since people are always changing. Stay current, read, always study your craft.

• Experience: Finding the right job is ideal, but don’t dismall opportunities that aren’t perfect. Having an internship, an entry job that is tough and not ideal can be humbling but it gets you the experience you need. I started at the front desk of the staffing agency, took the opportunity to learn and develop my recruiting skills and made my first placement in three months. I loved it and it was history from there on!

What are your hobbies and interests?

I am usually outdoors hiking (either by myself, with my son or my friends!). This year, I want to hike more 14ers! I always travel. Last year, I went to to London, Portugal and Hawaii. This year, I’m planning on Croatia and Laos!

13 Celebrating Women | Asian Avenue Magazine

Helping Reporters and Community Connect: What AANHPI Coloradans Want From News Coverage

On Feb. 2, Joie Ha, 29, the daughter of ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam, stood before an optimistic gathering of about 40 people at Happy Living Center in Aurora.

Most in attendance were Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. A smattering of journalists was in the crowd. All were waiting to hear the upshot of a series of conversations that took place last spring and summer about local news. More specifically, about local news coverage that reduced AANHPI communities to overachievers or model minorities or exotic outsiders or spreaders of COVID-19, that confined them to certain roles in certain stories at certain times.

The conversations had a goal: To figure out how to broaden and deepen the coverage, creating relationships between communities of color and local newsrooms that build trust rather than fray it.

The “Fighting to be Seen” report called for: (1) sustained connection between Colorado’s local newsrooms and Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities; (2) deeper understanding by reporters and editors of these communities’ diversity, cultures and histories; (3) increased representation in newsroom hiring and in coverage, and (4) newsroom and philanthropic investments in translations and platforms that will reach young and older generations.

Each broad recommendation will require smaller, significant steps to make it a reality. One of those steps — a guide to help community members find reporters and reporters find community members — was launched right then and there Thursday evening. COLab, with support of a $25,000 grant from Colorado Media Project, will lead the creation of Amplify Colorado, an online diverse source guide.

Amplify Colorado could serve multiple purposes. For exam-

ple, new-to-Colorado people can find others with like interests from their cultural communities.

“This work is important and it expands outside of these walls,” Ha told the gathering. Ha, who is vice chair of Colorado Asian Pacific United, said she chose to help lead the conversations — held under the umbrella of COLab and Colorado Media Project’s Voices Initiative — because the relationship between local media and the AANHPI community has to find room for community members “to tell our own stories and take charge of the narrative.”

The Voices Initiative, she said, “presented an incredible opportunity to ensure that AANHPI folks could express their thoughts in a way that we knew would be heard.”

Voices has been an evolving project, one that over the past two years has brought together some 75 people — Black, Latinx, AANHPI and Indigenous — seeking to chart a path forward to more equitable news coverage. The AANHPI group has members who identify as Americans, as Coloradans, as members of their respective, sometimes multiple, ethnic communities: Indian and Punjabi, Korean, South Korean, Thai, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Mongolian, Filipino, Vietnamese.

They recognize and are willing to act upon something we’ve said before here at COLab: The status quo is not an option. Not for newsrooms needing to grow their audiences and their bottom lines. Not for communities that need to have accurate information and to see themselves portrayed as human beings instead of cardboard cutouts.

Learn more about the Voices Project, read the full report with suggestions to local media, or add a source for Amplify Colorado at:

March 2023 | Feature 14
Meta Sarmiento presents feedback from a small group discussion. Joie Ha shares the “Fighting to be Seen” report with community members.

Overview of Aubergine

Aging parents, hospice care, food, and death are themes of the two-hour and 15-minute Korean-American play called Aubergine

The play opens the conversation to other cultural themes such as the sacrifices of Asian immigrant parents and communication challenges. The opening monologue speaks to how food plays an important part of reminiscing and keeping memories alive. From Feb. 2 to 19, Aubergine, written by Julia Cho, ran at the Ent Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs. Performed in English and Korean, and subtitled in both languages, Aubergine (or eggplant) offered an intimate look at the way Korean heritage, food, and family can transcend language to share love across all kinds of barriers.

“Even though we are discussing a complicated topic around death and hospice care, we can still find moments of joy and connection in the characters and many of our audience members sharing their stories,” said Jennifer Fok, freelance lighting designer and designer for Aubergine. “I love the humor in this play and how the play touches on expressions of love, family bonds, and impending loss.”

The Korean American play, written by Julia Cho, ran at the Ent Center for the Arts from February 2 to 19, 2023.


The monologues in Aubergine were beautifully written. The opening monologue sets the tone for the rest of the play. All of the actors and actresses were memorable and emoted the feelings of their respective characters. It also helped that they believed in the playwright.

“I thought the play was very touching and warm. Julia Cho does a great job of balancing a heavy topic with humor and care” said Jin Park, the actress who plays Cornelia, friend of the main actor. “There are many wise things the characters say that stick with me and that I will probably come back to as I think about life or the day, I will have to mourn someone.”

The reference to food was apparent. During the final production on Feb. 19, aromas of bulgogi and kimchi filled the theater as American Seoul Food served audience members before the play and during intermission.

Production, technical, and artistic direction

The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater space is beautiful. In an amphitheater style, all seats have a good angle of the stage. In terms of the lighting, the actors were showcased well.

“In many of my works, color, shadow, texture, and isolation are great tools in my storytelling tool kit,” said Fok. “Those elements are more emphasized in a thrust configuration where I can explore lighting a play in a non-symmetrical way. Having worked in the space before, I’ve picked up specific techniques and used the challenges of the theatre to my advantage.”

Audiences don’t often see the behind-the-scenes or minutiae of details. “The biggest challenge is always time and budget. As designers, we dream big and try not to think initially about the limitations but ultimately things will always change, morph, and develop based on the given resources --- ideas take time to grow,” Fok said. “The best idea always wins.

She encourages audiences to “go see and support local performing arts in your area! There is so much fantastic work out there!”

15 Theatre Review | Asian Avenue Magazine
Learn more about Theatreworks and upcoming events at
‘Aubergine’ presents Colorado Springs’ audiences with a relatable story of family, culture, and loss
Review By Mary Jeneverre Schultz

Japas Cervejaria debuts its Japanese-Brazilian beer in Colorado

Imagine blending cultures into a beverage like beer to get a taste of a dynamic infusion from Japan and Brazil.

A group of Japanese women in Brazil have created a blend of flavors from Japan into their brews. Available now in Colorado, brew lovers can pick up their beers at participating liquor stores such as Mondo Vino, Molly’s Spirits, Mr. B’s Wine & Spirits, and Champa Liquors. Local restaurants, such as Jake’s Brew Bar and Wolf’s Tailor list the beers on their drink menu, and even H Mart in Westminster have them stocked on their shelves.

“Japas make a variety of beer styles, but we add our own twist, such as using ingredients like dekopon (a variety of Satsuma orange), kumquat, matcha, and even wasabi,” said Japas co-founder Fernanda Ueno, who also serves as a brewer. “We add in just enough of these ingredients to provide a balance and harmony among the flavors.”

Japanese in Brazil

Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. According to government statistics, there are 2.3

million who claim Japanese ancestry living in Brazil.

The Japanese government encouraged farmers and laborers to seek employment opportunities in other countries. When restrictions to the US and Canada slowed down immigration, Japanese people headed for new destinations such as Brazil. Japanese settlers from Okinawa entered Brazil on June 18, 1908, when the ship, Kasato-Maru arrived in the port of Santos, just south of Sao Paolo. The day is celebrated annually as the National Japanese Immigration Day.

The word Japas is slang for those of Japanese descent. While the term is permissible to some, Japas’ co-founders are clear that the term should only be used when given permission or in reference to the brewery. In harnessing the word and bringing it into the brand, the women of Japas are re-signifying and reappropriating “Japas” to showcase their pride in their origins and mixed cultures and translating that directly into their beer.

History of the Brewery

Back in 2009, Ueno started home-brew-

ing for fun, while interning in craft brewing production, studying food engineering, and working in a brewery.

Then, in 2012, she entered beer festivals and received invitations to work in a brewpub setting. Her brews sold out in three days.

In 2014, Ueno met two other women, all residents of Brazil – Yumi Shimada and Maíra Kimura, who shared her interest in home-brewing and mixing ingredients.

“We were one of the few women of Japanese descent, so it was natural for us to come together,” said Kimura, co-founder, master brewer and business strategist for Japas.

Already, the Japanese Brazilian brewery has entered the market in nine states—Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

The team is watching current brewery trends and are open to collaborations. “It’s the perfect time and space to work together,” said Tania Matsuoka, the newest member of the team.

Production is overseen by New Yorkbased Beerternational, a woman-owned

March 2023 | Feature 16

Follow on Instagram @japascervejaria

company that enables the brewery to brew and sell their beer in the U.S.

Branding the Beer

As a deep dive into Japanese culture, stories and folktales are woven into each beer. One beer is named after one of Japan’s most iconic images, the maneki neko, or “lucky cat.” Think of the lucky cat giving you good fortune as you consumes the brew. Another beer is called Okame, representing the goddess of joy in Japanese folklore.

Yumi Shimada, who serves as art director and co-founder, designs the beer labels to represent all people, all culture, all one.

“When we create something, we discuss the concept because of the importance to differentiate our best assets,” said Shimada, during an interview with the four Japas Cervejaria owners Brazil and Asian Avenue Magazine.

The names of each beer references Japanese culture. Oishii, one of the brewery’s core beers, translates to “yummy.” The persimmon fruit, or kaki, is known to bring luck and longevity in some Asian traditions, while the word “Kimokawaii” means a mixture of the cute and bizarre.

Sharing the pop culture of Japan allows the brewery’s exploration of its ancestry while educating others and honoring their cultural past.

For instance, one of the beer labels is of Kasato-Maru, “which was named to honor the first ship that brought Japanese immigrants to Brazil,” Shimada said.

“The label was made with a manual collage, and the composition has dekopon fruit, an ‘immigrant’ fruit in Brazil, and the ship together on top of the sea. An interesting curiosity is that I tore the blue paper to create the impression of the foam that the waves create when they break in the sea.”


Each brew is created with four ingredients. The team favors wasabi, and it is part of its beer portfolio. The brewery includes IPAs, Lagers, and sour beers.

The main beer products include:

• Matsurika: the brewery’s best-selling beer, named after the Japanese Jasmine petals. It is a pilsner with soft and delicate flavors.

• Oishii: created with ginger and a touch of orange peel, it is a balanced witbier.

• Neko IPA: an American IPA, the flavors include a blend of citrus flavors.

• Nama Biiru: a super dry rice lager with a blend of Sorachi Ace and Lemondrop hops.

Already, the brewery has created a series called The Mask that sold in four packs that includes:

• Okame: a wheat wine ale with notes of bread, honey, and caramel.

• Hyottoko: created as a New England IPA, it showcases Citra, Motueka, and El Dorado hops.

• Hannya: the Imperial Stout contains velvety flavors of coffee and dark chocolate.

• Kitsune: with spicy notes of coriander and citrus, the Belgian Tripel Ale contain flavors of raisin and banana.

Seasonal beers include Black Daruma an imperial stout with flavors of dark chocolate and persimmon and Kimo Kawaii, another imperial stout, with an infusion of blackberry, dragon fruit, and hibiscus.

Colorado Market

“Colorado is one of the states with the highest number of breweries per capita,” said Kimura. “The craft culture is widespread with Coloradans drinking craft beer in their daily lives. We think that Japas will appeal to beer drinkers and even those simply interested in Japanese and Brazilian culture.”

Colorado-based Culture Beverage will operate as Japas’ distributor into the mountain state.

“We pride ourselves in partnering up with the best craft brewers from across the world, so we were extra excited when we began talking with the team at Japas,” said Xandy Bustamante, co-owner of Culture Beverage. “Their authentic approach to making Japanese and Brazilian inspired beers is something that no other producer is doing.”

Japas is delighted at the company’s growth, and proud of what they are building in Brazil. “It’s insane how the products of Japas is bringing our communities together,” said Ueno.

Learn more about the JapaneseBrazilian beer company Japas Cervejaria at

Japas Cervejaria | Asian Avenue Magazine 17
Top: Maíra Kimura Middle: Yumi Shimada Bottom left: Fernanda Ueno

Kyu Ramen is set to reopen this March at their new Denver address, 2205 E. Colfax Avenue, shifting their doors a few blocks east on Colfax. Near the corner of York Street and across from East High School, the new location will entice younger diners for their lunch specials and appetizing ramen bowls.

Kyu, pronounced like the letter “Q” means the number nine in Japanese.

For years, bar crawlers and concert goers would head over to Kyu Ramen after a night out. It was one of the only Asian restaurants in the area opened until 3 a.m.

“After 11 p.m., there would be a line out the door,” said owner Saki Melius, adding the late night hours began last October.

MENU | Kyu Ramen’s menu includes appetizer bites of gyoza dumplings, eggroll, wontons, takoyaki, and lotus buns. Their specialties include the ramen bowls, curry bowls and udon noodles.

Melius intends to maintain the affordable price points, even offering popular lunch specials of $12.95, that includes a ramen bowl and drink. Fried Rice Fridays are a weekly special with a choice of protein: chashu, spicy chicken, chicken, fried shrimp, steamed shrimp, bulgogi beef, or fried tofu.

While Melius grew up in Japan, she admits that some ingredients such as spin-

ach or corn bits would not typically be found in a traditional Japanese ramen bowl. However, Kyu Ramen fans love the colorful pop of greens and yellows.

Ginger strips are also not part of the American palate, so Melius will keep them off, unless requested by diners in their ‘Do-It-Yourself’ (DIY) noodle bowls.

“In the US, it’s difficult to find good ramen broth,” shared Melius. At Kyu Ramen, they focus on delivering tasty broths with unique flavors: Tonkotsu (creamy pork), spicy miso (pork), udon (soy fish) or yasai (seaweed/vegetarian).

Melius also created a chicken bowl with fried chicken that is marinated, instead of steamed. In Japan, fried chicken bowls is also not commonplace.

For the DIY bowls, diners can select from four different noodle styles: ramen (egg noodle), udon (thick, wheat noodle), rice noodle (gluten free), and kale noodle (vegetarian), followed by choosing a protein and additional toppings.

TIME FOR CHANGE | Melius began looking for a new location at the beginning of this year after notice that the area would be turned into medical offices. Her ownership began in 2019, while transitioning the restaurant from a former Menya Ramen and revamping its menu.

At the start of the pandemic, Melius

offered curbside delivery as the solo chef, restauranteur, and operator. She described the surreal scene of no vehicles on Colfax Avenue and witnessing a “zombie-like” landscape, where only unhoused people were walking on the streets.

Leaving these memories behind, she was relieved to find a nearby spot for the restaurant to relocate so that customers would not have to go far. She was also concerned about being able to support her staff and wanted to ensure the move would be seamless for them. Treating her employees as family members, she exudes an inviting personality and looks forward to becoming a delicious favorite in their new neighborhood.

OWNER SAKI MELIUS | Melius left Japan in her early 20s to work in the US as an au pair for a military family in Colorado Springs. There, she met her husband and completed a degree in education. She resided in Colorado Springs for 10 years, then settled in Aurora in 2013,

While she holds a teaching certificate, her path led her into 20 years of working in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

“I hope this restaurant makes everyone feel at home,” Melius said. “Please come visit us at our new location!”

Get updates from Kyu Ramen on their Instagram @kyu_ramen_denver.

18 March 2023 | Restaurant Peek
Kyu Ramen gears up for grand re-opening in new Denver location!
2205 E Colfax Avenue Denver, CO 80206

Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ goes on 20+ years of serving authentic Korean dishes in Aurora

With an army of nine women sous chefs and chefs, Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ creates food from South Korea with authenticity and a flair for family-style dishes.

Tucked in a corner of a strip mall On Havana Street and Yale Avenue in Aurora, the unassuming, modest restaurant offers plenty of parking, huge tables for large gatherings, and generous portions for their entrees.

Owner and restauranteur Hannah Cho enjoys sharing her love for Korean food to Aurora because “it’s such an amazing, diverse city.”

HISTORY | Since 1998, Shin Myung Gwan has served Korean cuisine. Cho purchased the restaurant six years ago and continued the operations.

“We proudly serve authentic Korean

2680 S Havana St, Aurora, CO 80014

Tel: 303.751.7787

Instagram: @shinmyunggwan

foods,” said Cho, who left South Korea to attend college in Colorado.

WHAT TO EXPECT | This hidden jewel is not open during lunch hours. With an attentive wait staff, the restaurant opens at 4 p.m. and stays open until midnight. The busy season for the restaurant is spring and summer, especially during the weekends.

Some of the tables show a grill sitting in the middle of the tables. Large tables without grills accommodate huge parties of six and more. The restaurant offers a button at each table, so diners can push it when service is needed to call wait staff. For those who prefer take-out, curbside pickup is also available.

Korean music plays in the background, while the TV at the back of the restaurant shows Korean dramas or music videos.

In 2018, Denver Westword recognized Shin Myung Gwan as a top Korean restaurant in the Denver metro area.

PRICE POINT | Menu items range from $9 to $12 from the appetizer selection. House specials can start from as low as $16.99 to $34.99, while combos range from $110 to $195. The BBQ combo set includes a selection of stew and a bottle of soju or soft drink. Korean side dishes are a feast in itself with varieties of fermented veggies and rice cakes.

“We do our best to get high-quality seasoning and ingredients,” said Cho. “It is very challenging due to inflation, but I do believe that top-quality seasoning and ingredients make a huge difference.”

Follow Shin Myung Gwan on Instagram @shinmyunggwan. To order online, go to

What’s on the Menu?

Diners’ favorites include marinated beef short rib, monkfish, marinated beef bulgogi and cheesy ribs. Most entrees are served in clay pots. With infused Korean spices, seasonings are perfect, especially for cold temperature during the winter months.

Cho recommends the braised monkfish, a popular dish in Korea. The white flesh of the fish is tender to the bite with complements of crunchy soybean sprouts and an explosion of robust flavors. Served in generous portions, this is the dish most diners will take home as leftovers.

Dipping sauces of sesame oil and salt mix plus fermented soybean paste accompany the meat entrees. If you like spicy food, this cuisine is perfect. But if you prefer

lower heat levels in spice, make sure you inform the staff.

In fact, the owner purchases the hard-to-source spices from Korean markets in Los Angeles and/or small towns from Korea. Diners from the Korean community vouch for its authenticity in home-style Korean cuisine.

Picky about rice? Shin Myung Gwan knows how to cook it well, according to numerous Yelp reviewers, who have commented on how the rice was perfect in every way.

Side dishes include: spicy cucumber salad (oi muchim), spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki), sweet and sour radish salad, gamjajeon pancakes, and bean sprouts (kongnamul muchim), kimchi, spinach (sigeumchi namul), and Korean braised potatoes (gamja jorim).

Restaurant Peek | Asian Avenue Magazine 19

Local Filipino artist illustrates depictions for a WWII documentary that tells the stories of Filipino veterans

“I was not a fan of moving,” said Cruzado, who felt he was established in his career as an advertising executive.

His wife convinced him to try the US for two years, then if it didn’t work, they would move back. “We were struggling for about five to six years,” shared Cruzado. “I was moving from one job to another because I wanted to get back into the creative industry.”

His first job in the US was working in a visual effects studio, but it only last five months, after it closed and relocated to Canada. Then, he dabbled in retail, selling print ad space for churches. That job lasted about five years, but didn’t appeal to his creative side. During that time, Cruzado freelanced for art galleries in the San Diego area, including: La Bodega Gallery, Hive Gallery, Thumbprint Gallery, and Art Hatch.

Filipino illustrator Nonie Cruzado, 40, created about 20 illustrations to make the film, A Long March, seamless.

“Nonie is a consummate professional and creatively, he is like a twin brain for me,” said TS Botkin, producer and director of A Long March. “He intuitively gets where I am going and when we need to tweak things, he is always accommodating. I cannot imagine a better person to work with.”

Cruzado created 11 scenes for plates in A Long March. The scenes filled in the Filipino perspective of WWII that were not found in old photos and reels. His work also represented one of the veterans, who was added to the film posthumously.

“His art became seamless as it tied stories together with recovered WWII art and black and white footage,” Botkin said.

Joining the Team | Film producer and director T. S. Botkin reached out to her colleague Benito Bautista, an independent Filipino filmmaker, for an artist to help with illustrations for her documentary. Bautista, who had previously met Cruzado through their work at the San Diego Filipino Cinema, introduced the Colorado artist to Botkin for the collaboration.

Cruzado expressed his delight in meeting Botkin. After reviewing Botkin’s direction, his sketching felt easy and familiar. Cruzado said: “I felt like I had known her for a while, because we connected right away.”

Immigration Story | Born and raised in the Philippines, Cruzado moved to California in 2014, settling in San Diego for nine years. His wife’s parents petitioned his family of four to pursue the American Dream.

Colorado Bound | A career opportunity opened for Cruzado, and he moved his family to Erie, Colo. He noted that moving teenagers was a struggle, especially since San Diego and Erie are worlds apart. But his sons have been slowly adapting. “It’s a struggle because they feel alone and don’t feel connected,” said Cruzado, admitting the boys are probably the only students of color in their high school.

His day job is working for a motion graphics company called Gaia, a streaming movie platform. The Louisville based company focuses on spirituality and yoga.

Future Projects | Because of his boys’ isolation, he is hoping to embark on projects to make a difference. “I want to make ourselves visible, so the next generation, and hopefully my children won’t feel so different,” he said.

Cruzado worked with Denver’s Office of Storytelling on the Reclaiming Denver’s Chinatown documentary. He worked on the graphics, poster design and animation of the introduction.

Other projects include a graphics novel partnership with Botkin. Botkin drafted and outlined a story, exploring imperialism and its impacts.

Cruzado is converting the initial script into a graphic novel, like comic books. The graphic novel is set in the 16th century,

March 2023 | Art 20

at the collision of the Old and New Worlds, told through the perspective of a Lenape boy (Eastern Woodland Indian).

“Because the Philippines was met with the same form of imperialist domination at the hands of Magellan on the other side of the world, Nonie read my script and immediately connected,” Botkin said. “The story of the ravages of these stories is universal for people of color, so it felt natural to work with Nonie on this project.”

Artist style | Cruzado creates the main base with sketches in pencil or ink on paper. He works on oil and acrylics but enjoys line work. While graphic design and animation were his entry to an art career, he wants to build his fine art expertise.

“I like the boldness and try to incorporate into my digital work through drawing, scanning and applying the effects,” he said. “The art is big sketch drawing, so it feels like ‘unfinished’ work but that’s my intention.”

His inspiration and influential artists include: René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Albrecht Dürer, Jean Rustin, Cj Tanedo, James Jean, and Kent William.

“I love the whimsy of his work, juxtaposed against the darkness we all feel internally,” Botkin said. “I don’t get a sense of dread, but I do feel the clash of our light and darkness in his work, and the struggle it is to be human.”

Hobbies | Cruzado loves nature, and it shows in his art. He and his family have taken up hiking to explore Colorado. As a father of two boys (16 and 13 years old), he spends time with them through martial arts. He also still dabbles in painting and enjoys reading.

Curious about his work? Follow him Nonie Cruzado on Instagram @artof_cruzado. Learn more about the documentary A Long March by visiting

Nonie Cruzado | Asian Avenue Magazine 21

Community vigil honors the victims of California shootings

On Feb. 8, community members gathered at the Denver Botanic Gardens for a vigil in honor of the lives lost during the mass shootings at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay in California (at the start of Lunar New Year).

Strings trio, led by Joy Yamaguchi, played classical music throughout the event. Organizers Sara Moore and Joie Ha welcomed guests and said aloud the names of the victims and held a moment of silence. Attendees added white carnation flowers and LED candle lights to the memorial and noted the importance of holding this shared space for collective healing.

Mr. Jia An Zhu and Ms. He Fang Zong performed Jiao Ji Wu, a Chinese Blues Ballroom Dance, in memory of the Asian seniors at Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Afterward, attendees were invited to learn the ballroom dance as they provided simple instructions on how to do the four-step dance.

Organizers included Colorado Dragon Boat, CORE, Asian Pacific Development Center, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Sakura Foundation, and many more!

Nathan Yip Foundation celebrates 21 years at their annual Chinese New Year Party

On Feb. 4, the Nathan Yip Foundation hosted their annual Chinese New Year Celebration at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver. The organization celebrated its 21st anniversary by introducing its incoming Board President Alan Frosh, and thanking Jon Olafson for his service and contributions as outgoing President.

Guests enjoyed Chinese traditions including a colorful lion dance, a family style salad toss, and a night market that featured Chinese calligrapher Harber Chang and palm reader Jason Chen. The evening was infused with Cuban and Latino flavor and flair, including live music by the Colorado Mambo Orchestra. This year’s event chairs were Dr. Raul Murciano and Vivian Murciano, and the event was emceed again by long-time friend of the foundation, Denver7’s Anne Trujillo.

Proceeds from the fundraising gala helps the Nathan Yip Foundation to support rural Colorado schools. Learn more at:

22 March 2023 | On Scene
Jimmy and Linda Yip lead guests in the salad toss to begin the dinner at the annual Nathan Yip Foundation Chinese New Year Celebration. Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Denver Director General Bill S.C. Huang (front, second from left) and friends celebrate with the Nathan Yip Foundation.

Inaugural Mile High Asian Food Week brings

new customers and supporters to local Asian restaurants and vendors

Mile High Asian Food Week (MHAFW), held Feb. 22 to 26, brought community members out in droves to support local Asian restaurants and businesses across the Denver area.

With 50 participating vendors this year, many shared that their food or offerings sold out or that they were busier than ever during the five-day event (despite the first day starting off with heavy snow).

As the presenting sponsor for the MHAFW, Asian Avenue Magazine is grateful to the local community for all of the support and love.

“Since establishing Asian Avenue magazine in 2006, our goal has always been to shine a light on the stories and experiences of Colorado’s Asian communities,” said Annie VanDan, President of Asian Avenue magazine. ”Being a part of MHAFW allowed us to do this, specifically by elevating small businesses and connecting them to new supporters!”

The all-volunteer, women-led team behind MHAFW is looking forward to organizing more events that can support local businesses. Stay in touch via social @milehighafw.

“Being a part of Mile High Asian Food Week was such a huge honor! This week really showed us the strength in the community and it brought a lot of people together! We are so proud to be Asian and proud to be a part of this great AAPI community!”

“Everyone came out in masses to support all of these wonderful small business owners. We had the busiest day at the poke shop all year and met so many new faces with such kind words about what we are doing here at Denver Poke! We can’t say enough to express how we feel.”

Day of Remembrance recognizes injustices towards Japanese Americans

On Feb. 19, the Mile High chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) hosted their annual Day of Remembrance event. This day recognized the 81st anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast during WWII.

“We reflected on the harm done to our communities by the United States government and spread the message of ‘never again!’ in the face of injustice,” said Dylan Mori, President of Mile High JACL.

At History Colorado, David Monkawa spoke about the history of Japanese American healthcare and the Save Our Seniors movement, which is fighting to protect families at the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility in Los Angeles. See the recording of the event at: tinyurl. com/jacl-remembrance.

On Scene | Asian Avenue Magazine 23
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