Part street festival, part love letter to the bright purple sweet potato known as ube, Yum Yams returns to the SOMA Pilipinas Cultural District for its fourth year on May 13. This year, ube shares the limelight with another eye-catching ingredient: matcha.
Organized by Filipino community group Kultivate Labs and the Japantown Cultural District’s Koho Creative Hub, Yum Yams will take place at city-owned outdoor venue Kapwa Gardens to mark Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
In a press release, the event organizers wrote that the festival was envisioned, in part, to help revitalize the Japantown Cultural District. Recently, community advocates put the wheels in motion to formally redesign the historic Japanese American enclave, which has been shrinking in population for years.
The festival also serves to build a bridge between the Filipino and Japanese communities in San Francisco—both symbolically and concretely. Ube has been a staple of Filipino cooking for centuries, while matcha, or green tea powder, has become a treasured Japanese culinary import in the U.S.
Over the past few years, both ube and matcha have proliferated throughout Bay Area restaurants, from Third Culture’s mochi muffins and Señor Sisig’s ube-colada and horchata to the matcha lattes and boba that can be found on dozens of cafe menus.
Yum Yams will host 25 local vendors, including wholesale bakery Ube Area and Oakland-based caterer The Bake Lab. Attendees can expect a feast of ube and matcha-flavored cakes, cannoli, cupcakes and more.