As a Vietnamese living in Rome, I was inevitably sensitive towards all things Asian in Italy. Part of me was missing home, and part of me was curious about how the Vietnamese or other Asian cultures were represented in a Western country. I had never thought that Rome was a cosmopolitan city like London or Paris. Yet, I discovered quite a few Asian influences in my favorite city Rome.
The first Asian cultural place came to my mind was Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale (The National Museum of Oriental Art). The name aroused my curiosity immediately because the term "oriental" was rather archaic and could be considered offensive to some Asians, as it was related to European Imperialism in Asia. Regardless of its name, the museum held an important collection of Asian art and artifacts, notably from Gandhara area. The museum experience itself was not satisfying due to lack of lighting and English information. Still, the collection at the museum was worth exploring. I especially liked the intricate ceramics from Iran.
Rome did have a diverse selection of Asian restaurants including Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Indian ones. Nevertheless, the quality of the Asian food that I tried was not as good as in London. Still, it was hard not to crave for some warm noodle soups or sophisticated sushi. For Chinese food, I would recommend Green Tea, which was on the Michelin Guide. For Korean food, Galbi was recently opened and got very good reviews. For Japanese food, I really enjoyed my sushi lunch at Hamasei. And finally, for Vietnamese food, there were only two restaurants: Thien Kim and Restaurant Mekong. While Thien Kim offered good dishes for high prices, Restaurant Mekong's price range was really affordable but the food was not very authentic. The service at the latter was much friendlier than at the former though - the Italian owner of Restaurant Mekong is passionate about the Vietnamese cuisine.
As much as I loved Italian food, I could not eat it every single day. I would say I cooked Vietnamese foods 50% of all my meals. When I searched for Asian supermarkets in Rome, I found that most of the Asian stores were located near Roma Termini. Perhaps that area was the Asian town of Rome. I did not encounter any Asian stores that were not related to groceries.
My final tip for you would be to keep an eye out for temporary Asian fairs, festivals. and exhibitions, which are frequently organized in Rome. For instance, Rome's Asian Film Festival. A useful website to check what's on events in Rome is wantedinrome.com
My mission is to show you different ways of exploring Rome - the ways that the average tourist may miss. Each moment of unraveling something new about Rome made me fall in love with the city more and more. Those are the precious moments that I would like to share with you, and they are not necessarily Asian related. If you would like to find out more, check out the following articles: The Hidden Beauty Of Rome, Exploring Monteverde Vecchio In Rome, and An Introvert in Rome: or How I Ditched Crowded Landmarks for Local (solitary) Fun. I hope these unique experiences will enrich your visit in Rome.
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