NEW YORK — Omsom, the “proud, loud Asian home cooking” brand, is debuting on retail shelves nationwide through an exclusive partnership with Whole Foods Market. Founded by Vietnamese-American sisters Kim and Vanessa Pham, the brand has sold out more than a dozen times since its direct-to-consumer launch over two years ago.
The New York-based startup
offers a line of meal starters, combining the sauces, aromatics, seasonings and oils needed to cook a specific dish, such as Thai larb, Korean spicy bulgogi or Vietnamese lemongrass barbecue. The products are developed in collaboration with tastemakers specializing in cuisines spanning Southeast and East Asia.
“After two years of working to bust the ‘ethnic’ aisle, landing within it on a national scale feels both ironic, but also a big first step in the right direction,” Kim Pham said. “To receive such a large platform to tell our story and the opportunity to shake up the category is the gift we always knew we deserved. We’re excited to continue to debunk the tropes that paint the legacy of Asian American food — that it’s cheap, unhealthy, or so ‘exotic’ that it can’t be eaten weekly. This is just the beginning.”
Omsom’s new retail packaging features dish names in Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai languages and ingredient call-outs such as “starring Korean chili and gochujang pear,” plus photos of the prepared meal on each sachet.
In Vietnamese, “om sòm” means noisy, rambunctious and riotous. The brand uses vibrant colors, punchy graphics and bold flavors. The brand has attracted tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, where the founders share recipes and shed light on issues like “why does the ‘ethnic’ aisle even exist?” and “the roots of anti-MSG xenophobia.”“Folks aren’t always ready for what we have to say as a WOC-led brand so, since the beginning, we knew that being as proud and loud as we are was a risky bet,” said Vanessa Pham, chief executive officer. “But we know it’s been a risk worth taking and one that’s been deeply rewarding — challenging palates and some of the long-standing misconceptions about Asian cuisines. We’re grateful to be a part of a larger conversation around Asian-American culture — it truly feels like the perfect time to leverage our incredible momentum and make the move into mainstream grocery.”