Jaeki Cho is on a mission to save New York’s struggling restaurants

As the U.S. struggles to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in business. In New York alone, as many as two-thirds of the state’s restaurants could shutter by the end of the year if they don’t receive more government assistance.

Enter Jaeki Cho. The former XXL Magazine editor and creative has leveraged his TikTok — where he has more than 402,000 followers — to bring attention to small businesses throughout New York City. For several weeks, Cho has highlighted these restaurants through a series called “Righteous Eats.”

Among the eateries that have been featured is Lhasa Fast Food, a hidden Tibetan restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens.

“Yo, it’s ‘Righteous Eats,'” Cho says at the start of the clip. “Let’s save the one-third of restaurants in NYC that might close ’cause of COVID.”


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Cho then shows a brief tour of Lhasa Fast Food, which is located at the end of a hallway filled with small cell phone shops. Cho goes on to list his “essentials” from the restaurant, including the beef and chives momo (a Tibetan-style dumpling), the sushi laphing (a sushi-style noodle dish) and the salted butter tea.

“Yo, restaurants define the cultural fabric of communities in New York City, so support your local eateries in the galaxy of Queens,” Cho adds.

Other restaurants that Cho has featured over the course of his “Righteous Eats” series include Korean restaurant Parksanbal Babs, Vietnamese eatery Pho Metro and Taiwanese shop Taiwanese Specialties — all of which are Asian restaurants in Queens.

At a time when Asians and Asian Americans are facing increasing racism and economic uncertainty, Cho’s efforts to save Asian businesses are particularly crucial. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment rates among Asian Americans jumped more than 450 percent between February and June.

If you found this story insightful, read about how you can help Chinatown businesses amid the pandemic.

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