Soy Sauce Nation: Stir Fry East

It was noon in New Jersey and roughly 70 degrees outside, a typical summer day in The Garden State. But inside Big Snow, the indoor slope located within the American Dream megamall in East Rutherford, it was full-on wintertime. As if snowboarding indoors in August wasn’t already entertaining enough, some riders were taking turns dressing up in a soy sauce bottle costume while other snacked on dumplings. Snowboarders of all skill levels tested their luck sliding across several boxes placed in a row–a “Boxzilla” type setup. It’s hard to think of a more fitting feature for the fun nature of Soy Sauce Nation’s Stir Fry East.

ABOVE Miriam Pilzer with the one-footer through Boxzilla. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

ABOVE A rider who goes by the initials “S.K.” going the distance with a backside boardslide. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

“It’s our first east coast event, but definitely not the last,” said Soy Sauce Nation Cofounder Nirvana Ortanez. “This time we encouraged people from the public to come. It’s cool because we get to meet so many people who we might’ve not crossed paths with. We’re a community, and the community keeps expanding.”

ABOVE (left to right) Emmett Dowd, Miles Fallon, Mike Yoshida and Mikey Kim on the lift. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

ABOVE (Top/Left) Nirvana Ortanez, bonk to backside boardslide. Photo: Mike Yoshida || (Bottom/Right) LJ Henriquez, shifty to frontside boardslide. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

Soy Sauce Nation started in 2012 as an Instagram page showcasing Asian-American snowboarders. Over the past several years, it’s evolved into much more. Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and an unjustified increase in anti-Asian racism across the nation, Soy Sauce Nation started hosting events. “That was a big driving factor for having in-person events,” Nirvana says. “We also wanted to highlight groups that were historically underrepresented in the media. It’s about bringing all these people together and giving them a space to get filmed and get photos and feel good.”

ABOVE Miriam Pilzer locked into a frontside 50-50 on the down-flat-down. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

ABOVE Adrian Mitchell, bonk to frontside boardslide. Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

In 2021 Soy Sauce Nation teamed up with Snowboy Productions to put on the Soy Sauce Nation’als at Mt. Hood, OR and have since thrown their own Stir Fry events in Oregon and California. The Stir Fry events have a strong emphasis on celebrating Asian culture. The first few were invite-only but Stir Fry East, open to the public, hosted more than 130 snowboarders between the ride day at Big Snow and the welcome party that went down at the Burton New York City Flagship Store the night prior.

ABOVE What da dog doin’? A scene from the Stir Fry East welcome party at the Burton New York City Flagship Store in Manhattan. Photo: Mike Yoshida

ABOVE Waterproofing: questionable. Style: undeniable. Jarrett Shinoda takes a turn donning the Kikkoman  costume. Photo: Mike Yoshida

At the party in New York, Soy Sauce Nation raffled off prizes including a custom MINE77 Kimono and a snowboard from Burton. During the ride day at Big Snow even more prizes were raffled off, including a custom Kikkoman skateboard in the shape of a soy sauce bottle. Using the proceeds from the raffles at Stir Fry East Soy Sauce Nation was able to donate over $2,000 to the Maui Strong Fund, an organization providing financial resources to support the immediate and long-term recovery needs for the people and places affected by the recent wildfires in Hawaii.

ABOVE A big, diverse turnout for Soy Sauce Nation’s first east coast event. Photo: Mike Yoshida

ABOVE Soy Sauce Nation cofounders (left to right) Max Tokunaga, Andrew “AK” Kelly and Nirvana Ortanez (featured in Issue 18.3). Photo: Ben Shanks Kindlon

“It’s hard to put into words the feel-good feelings that come from these events,” Nirvana says. “We started as an Instagram page and grew into this thing where we get to support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ and anyone who wants to be a part of it. We never dreamed it would be something like this. I just hope it keeps growing.”

ABOVE The official video recap of Stir Fry East. Video: Carlo “Barlo” Marasigan & Ted Borland.

A special thanks to the folks at Soy Sauce Nation, Burton Snowboards, Big Snow American Dream and everyone else who helped put on this awesome event. We look forward to the possibility of getting in the mix at another Stir Fry! 

Click here if you’re interested in contributing to the Maui Strong Fund. 


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