We had the good fortune of connecting with Ziwei Li and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ziwei, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
My parents and I immigrated to the US when I was 3 years old, and I grew up in Virginia. As a child, I never quite felt like I belonged in either Asian or American culture. I had the “lunchbox moments” at school where the delicious food my mom lovingly packed for me was made fun of or thoroughly questioned as I sat with my cheeks burning with embarrassment. I had to learn about American snacks at friends’ homes, where I’d gawk with amazement at things like Dunkaroos or Ritz Cheesy Dip (that red plastic stick had the sharpest corners in the world). These experiences made me strain to be more traditionally “American,” and I slowly built a firm wall between being Asian at home, and being American in public.

The wall remained up as I graduated college, but as I entered my 20s, I developed a kinship with others who had similar experiences. I realized our stories deserve to be told. Between seeing Asian-Americans increasingly represented in media and moving to Los Angeles where I witnessed communities of Asian people thriving, I’m enjoying every second of my journey to reconnect with my whole self!

I founded Wei Good Food with the goal of showcasing how two co-existing cultures strengthen each other. Our products are defined by the unique Asian-American identity – and most importantly, proudly celebrate the very feeling I used to avoid.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Wei Good Food produces snacks and condiments that showcase and celebrate the fusion of Asian and American culture. When you visit Asian grocery stores, you see aisles full of snacks and foods by category, but somehow in traditional grocery markets, Asian products are still relegated to the “ethnic aisle”. My goal is to bring the new generation of Asian-American food into the spotlight where we belong!

Everything we make is rooted in our identity of coexisting across cultures.

As Asian foods become mainstream, I thought it would be fun to reverse the trend and apply Asian flavors to traditionally American snacks. Our Matcha Buddies are matcha-flavored muddy buddies, made of crispy rice cereal covered in white chocolate and organic, premium-grade matcha. The other fan favorite is Coffee Buddies, which are a play on the smooth, sweet, and roasted flavor found in Vietnamese coffee. Keep an eye out for our newest flavors as they roll out!

It definitely hasn’t been an easy road. Succeeding with Wei Good Food is my dream, but in the meantime, I’m still working my full-time job and pursuing my MBA at UCLA Anderson. Starting a business is exhilarating, and I’ve loved applying my skills to something that’s my own. The business is bootstrapped, so after tuition, I invest almost everything into Wei Good Food’s growth.

The most challenging part is learning every single piece of running a business on the fly. I started my career in management consulting, so I have a lot of the necessary business skills. Nonetheless, it’s incredibly humbling to suddenly need to figure out accounting, legal, PR, marketing, and more, often all at the same time. It’s like drinking out of a fire hose – equal parts exciting, terrifying, and a real eye opener.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My absolute favorite part of LA is the culinary diversity. There are so many neighborhoods to explore, each one packed with amazing food. Sometimes I tear up just thinking about how much incredible food is around me. (Not kidding!)

With that said, any friend visiting me knows that they’ll be getting a food tour.

Since I live on the Westside, the first stop would be Sawtelle. There’s such a wide variety of choice in Sawtelle Japantown, but the can’t-miss is always Tsujita. I never had dipping ramen before moving to LA and it continues to be SO GOOD. From there I would take my friend to Santa Monica for a stroll around the Promenade and maybe some volleyball on the beach. For dinner, we would go up to Glendale to any one of the great Persian restaurants in the area. My favorites are Raffi’s Place and Pardis.

The next day we might go to Koreatown for the most authentic Korean food you can find outside of Korea. Hangari Kalguksu would be the go-to if they wanted to try knife cut noodles, or Quarters if we were in the mood for KBBQ. I also love the family-style platter of beef draped with melted cheese at Sun Nong Dan.

After a post-lunch coffee (or nap), I would end with dinner at Jon & Vinny’s. A classic choice in LA but rightfully so. The pizzas and pastas are all delicious, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but don’t overlook the salads either. Their Caesar salad is delightfully crunchy with breadcrumbs and a drizzle of Calabrian chili.

As you can tell from my itinerary, all my recommendations are food related so any visiting friend can expect to roll home after a weekend with me.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Absolutely. Many people come to mind but the person who I have to thank the most is my husband (and co-founder!) Victor Tran.

We’ve been friends since college and together since 2017. He’s seen me through my career struggles as I learned tough lessons in navigating the workplace, and held down the fort for us when I did weekly business travel. Most importantly, I can always count on him for honest feedback when no one else is willing to be critical. This has been especially valuable as I’ve launched Wei Good Food.

Without him, Wei Good Food wouldn’t exist. He’s always been my biggest supporter and the one who pushed me to move forward from just talking about the company as a vague idea, to actually starting. As my co-founder, Victor does all the design and brand work, and the result is way better than anything I could come up with. As my husband, he keeps our day-to-day lives afloat as I juggle Wei Good Food, work, and my MBA program.

He’s truly my partner and teammate in all aspects. This Shoutout is a small effort at recognizing how much I appreciate him.

Website: www.weigoodfood.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weigoodfood/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ziwei-li-47980773/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.