post-title Bringing World Culture to Downtown Frederick

Bringing World Culture to Downtown Frederick

Bringing World Culture to Downtown Frederick

Bringing World Culture to Downtown Frederick

By Cleo Burton

The Partnership is thrilled to introduce Voices of Downtown Frederick – a blog series highlighting the many communities that help make Downtown Frederick special. This month’s blog celebrates Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander heritage and is written by Cleo Burton, operations assistant at Asian American Center of Frederick.

As we welcome May, I am ready to embrace Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month – a time dedicated to honoring and celebrating the vibrant cultural tapestry and invaluable contributions of the AANHPI community to our nation’s past and present. For me, it’s a time to connect, learn, and enjoy the many cultures and diverse traditions which originate in Asia and the Pacific.

Nestled within Frederick’s historic allure, thrives a rich AANHPI-scene, full of mouthwatering cuisine, colorful entertainment, and inspirational citizenship. Every day, AANHPI community members contribute to our city, county, state, and the nation, making it a better, more welcoming, safe, and fun place to live. Many are familiar with famous AANHPI political figures like Kamala Harris, Aruna Miller, Susan Lee, and entertainers like Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Lee, Dev Patel to name a few. However, this month I am focusing on every day, local residents that are doing just that close to home. As a Chinese American adoptee who has not had the opportunity to return back to China, I particularly enjoy the ways in which Frederick provides many intimate opportunities to indulge, learn, and contribute in celebration of the AANHPI Heritage Month. I invite you to explore our wonderful downtown with me and everything that it has to offer.


Asian cuisine has established itself amongst Frederick’s impressive dining experiences and is rapidly adding new options. Staples of Downtown Frederick like Lazy Fish and Tsunami, which are both owned by business partners Moo and Pong (originally from Thailand) who continue to impress with innovative offerings of Asian Fusion dishes and delectable sushi. Moo, who moved to the U.S. to study in 1992, immediately took notice of the lack of sushi options in Frederick. Moo and his partner opened their first restaurant, Lazy Fish in 2014 to “offer a unique Asian-fusion experience, not limited to traditional flavors of sushi or teriyaki chicken.” Moo adds that their, “commitment to freshness even extends to sourcing fish from Japan for our sushi.” Their restaurants showcase culinary creativity with distinctive ingredients and dishes, inviting everyone to savor new flavors and dining experiences.

Owner of Lazy Fish and Tsunami in Downtown Frederick.

Officer Nick Aylward of the Frederick Police Department finds solace in savoring Asian cuisine, a passion cultivated during his formative years spent in China. He is excited to notice the growth and expansion of the AANHPI food scene in town. Notable establishments like GogiGo Korean BBQ, Asian Supermarket, Le Luna Bakery & Cafe, and Bloom Asian Haus have swiftly become community favorites. During his off-duty hours, Officer Aylward indulges in his favorite dish, the Beef Bulgogi Noodle, from Lazy Fish. His breaks often lead him to AANHPI-owned establishments like Ibiza Cafe or Le Luna Bakery & Cafe, where he enjoys a cup of coffee and a quick bite. A connoisseur of coffee, Officer Aylward particularly appreciates Ibiza Cafe’s Japanese-style coffee preparation methods.

Cleo Burton and TJ Sydykov of AACF with officer Nick Aylward of Frederick Police Department.

In addition to these distinguished establishments, the area in and around Downtown Frederick boasts an array of Asian-owned restaurants awaiting your discovery, each offering a journey through the diverse array of Asian cuisine including Sapporo II Japanese Restaurant, Sumittra Thai Cuisine, and much more.


The Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF) is located in the heart of Downtown Frederick and has had an active role within the community for nearly 20 years. Founded with a mission to enhance, empower, and enrich the diverse immigrant communities in Frederick county, AACF has emerged as a beacon of support and overall voice for the immigrant community. Through a myriad of programs, events, and initiatives, AACF continues to bridge gaps, cultivate dialogue, and offer support and services to contribute to the overall equity of underserved, immigrant populations. “None of AACF’s efforts would be possible without the support and help from much of our staff and volunteers,” TJ Sydykov, Director of Operations states. “Many staff members and volunteers with AACF are immigrant-born, but have found a deep, cultural connection to AACF’s mission in serving the community.”

Individuals like Tan Phu Quach have formed a profound cultural connection with AACF’s mission of serving the community. Tan, a high school senior and member of the Science National Honor Society at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, spent his early years in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, before settling in Frederick with his family. Introduced to AACF at the 2022 Frederick Community Health Fair, Tan’s dedication to volunteer work led him to pursue a Community Health Worker Certification for Maryland, aligning with his aspirations to become a medical researcher.

Despite his high school commitments, Tan has dedicated himself to serving various communities through AACF, notably making an impact with his outreach work at Xa Loi Temple. Recognizing the lack of Vietnamese representation among volunteers, Tan saw an opportunity to bridge gaps in communication and service delivery tailored to the Vietnamese community. His efforts led to significant moments, such as assisting a Vietnamese lady in registering for health insurance through AACF’s Community Health Action Program and Kaiser Permanente, providing invaluable support and making a tangible difference in her life.

Through years of outreach service, Tan’s perspective has evolved, gaining a deeper understanding of AANHPI culture in America. His experiences have revealed the unique identities within each culture, inspiring him to advocate for underserved communities and contribute to their future in Frederick. Like Tan, we all hold the power to make a meaningful impact in the community. Whether it’s volunteering with AACF or your local church, each of us has the ability to contribute to the fulfillment and enrichment of the lives within our community.

Embrace & Celebrate

Aside from providing essential services and resources, the Asian American Center of Frederick fosters cross-cultural connections through a series of diverse celebrations and events, all of which are open to the wider community. Such events include the Lunar New Year Celebration, Thai Water Festival, Colorful Indonesia, and Asia on the Creek. These gatherings provide an opportunity for individuals from various backgrounds to immerse themselves in, learn about, and appreciate different cultures.

Dewi Brewer representing AACF at local event with the Mayor of Frederick.

For certain staff members at AACF, engaging with diverse community members offers invaluable insights into the needs of their own community. Dewi Brewer, an Indonesian immigrant who has embraced Frederick as her home for the past five years, embodies this ethos. Drawing from her prior volunteer experience assisting the Indonesian community in Hagerstown, MD through her local church, Dewi seamlessly transitioned into her role as a Community Health Worker at AACF upon moving to Frederick.

Through her outreach efforts, Dewi gained a deeper appreciation for the diverse cultures served by AACF, enriching her understanding of her Indonesian heritage, and fostering connections with other communities. She underscored the importance of celebrating cultural diversity and fostering cross-cultural understanding through connecting with different communities. For the Indonesian community in Frederick, this held particular significance, given that there are merely 11 Indonesian families residing in the area.

Driven by this belief and desire to directly impact her community, Dewi’s initiative, “Colorful Indonesia,” held in Carroll Creek Park attracted over 3,000 attendees, from across the DMV, including esteemed guests such as the Mayor of Frederick. This event served as a platform for showcasing and promoting Indonesian culture within the Frederick community. Reflecting on her experience, Dewi takes pride in her contributions of introducing Indonesian culture to the community. For Dewi, Colorful Indonesia was particularly meaningful as she witnessed so many individuals from different backgrounds participate in this celebration, honoring her own heritage.

As we embrace Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, there’s a wealth of opportunities to honor and celebrate the rich contributions and heritage of AANHPI individuals. At the forefront of this celebration is the Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF), equipped to host their Annual “Asia on The Creek – AANHPI Heritage Month Celebration” on Saturday, May 4, 2024, from 12 to 5pm, lining Carroll Creek Park in Downtown Frederick.

Photos from Asia on the Creek event.

This dynamic event showcases traditional performances, culinary delights, vibrant vendors, and beyond, offering families an unparalleled chance to fully immerse themselves in the rich traditions and culture of AANHPI individuals. “We are thrilled to host this culturally exciting and inclusive celebration,” says TJ Sydykov, Director of Operations at AACF. “This is a chance where we not only spread cultural awareness to other individuals who are maybe not familiar with different AANHPI cultures, but we also engage the community in Frederick and bring recognition to all AANHPI communities through this celebration.” Be sure to join us in embracing this cultural celebration and commemorating the vibrant diversity within our community.

Cleo Burton is a Chinese American woman working in Downtown Frederick. Burton has a finance and business background, and is currently serving the Asian American Center of Frederick as the Operations Assistant. New to the area, she enjoys finding ways in which she can contribute to the community.