Girl stands with drink in hand at Yuzu event.

Yuzu: The zesty new Asian dating app

The group behind Tinder and Match have launched an app for Asians to find love online, but it's real sweetness lies in its power to build community

Cindy Lim of Yuzu


Just the other day, I was explaining to a non-Asian, white friend why I prefer being in Asian circles. “It’s just easier. I don’t have to explain myself around those who know and understand Asian culture,” I said. Of course, you don’t have to be Asian to love aspects of Asian culture, from food to anime, music, and more, but it’s easier to relate to others if they have similar interests and upbringing.

That is the principle behind the latest Asian dating and social app, Yuzu. An affiliate of Match Group (Tinder, Hinge, Match), Yuzu launched at the start of 2024 and might just change the game for Asian connections. On the app, anyone aged 18 and older, including non-Asians, can sign up and perform typical dating app functions, create a profile, and select their best (or worst) photos, all while swiping left or right through a barrage of accounts based on preferences like location and shared interests. Users can answer fun prompts to add detail to their profiles, such as favorite K-pop groups or go-to comfort food.

But the real power of Yuzu lies in its community function. Users can toggle off romantic interests/dating mode and swipe through profiles to find friends. There is even a community feature with different group chats for users based on age groups or interests, like anime and raving. Aptly named, Yuzu brings something fresh and bright to Asian spaces.

I spoke with Cindy Lim, head of brand at Yuzu, to discover more about Yuzu’s roots and its impact already on Asian communities.

Daniel Anderson: Tell me the origins and idea behind Yuzu?

Cindy Lim: Yuzu originated from Match Group, a company with a diverse portfolio of dating apps like Hinge and Tinder. Yuzu falls under the umbrella of "affinity apps," focusing on underrepresented communities. Before Yuzu, there were apps like BLK for Black singles and Chispa for Latina singles, showing a niche focus. The idea for Yuzu came from extensive research conducted by Match Group, including a survey of over 1000 people aged 18 to 40 within the Asian community. The data revealed a strong preference for dating within the Asian ethnicity, with 60 percent expressing interest in an Asian-centered dating app. This research laid the foundation for Yuzu's mission to connect Asians socially and romantically.

I joined Match Group on May 1, 2023, and spent seven months behind the scenes working on Yuzu. From there we decided to initiate a two-month waitlist in November to gauge demand from the Asian community. Yuzu officially launched on the app stores on January 12, 2024.

DA: Were you influenced by other Asian communities when designing the community features for Yuzu?

CL: I didn't directly draw inspiration from other groups, but I did research various Asian communities on platforms like Facebook, including Subtle Asian Traits,, and Reddit threads. I explored sub-communities like gaming, anime, skincare, and beauty to understand their interests. I tried to do the due diligence to learn, not just from my background as an Asian and my friends, but also what the general Asian community online presence seemed to be most interested in. I even connected with admins from Subtle Asian Traits, who supported us by giving a shoutout for our waitlist.

DA: Roughly how many users are on the app now?

CL: We have had 35,000 downloads since our launch. We started with over 10,000 on the waitlist and have seen double-digit growth in the last two months. With strong marketing plans, especially for API month (in May), we anticipate aggressive growth. More users mean a better experience for everyone, and we're committed to consistently expanding our community. We hope to also expand into Canada and Europe too.

DA: Match Group has developed a reputation for monopolizing the online dating space. How do you respond to people who may be weary of joining Yuzu because of its affiliation with Match Group?

CL: Apps like Hinge and Tinder operate differently than Yuzu and have different teams. The Affinity Apps team has its own product team focused on innovation and monetization. I think Affinity Apps tend to be more innovative, for example, Yuzu has the community chats feature. We try to make it distinct. We do survey our users, send out email blasts, and conduct Zoom interviews, paying them a certain fee for their time. We come up with syntheses on how the women at Yuzu feel about this feature, how the men feel about this feature, and what kind of frustrations they have. We make an active effort to cater and build a product around them.

DA: On the topic of safety: There isn’t a background check feature yet, what other measures will be implemented to keep users safe?

CL: As Yuzu matures, there will likely be enhanced measures implemented to minimize fraud and other risks. While Yuzu currently lacks verification processes, some of our other apps, like Archer, have implemented selfie verification. While it's uncertain if Yuzu will adopt this soon, it's a capability we can leverage easily. For now, users are encouraged to report suspicious profiles or behavior. Match Group prioritizes safety and prohibits fake profiles. Reporting features are available both for profiles and within community chats, allowing swift action to maintain a safe environment.

DA: What has early feedback been from users about the app?

CL: Initially, when we had low user numbers, some were confused by the distance of potential matches. They'd set their radius to 20 miles but were getting matches from 200 miles away. While this was to optimize the user experience and show more profiles, some found it frustrating. I've also heard feedback about location impacting match frequency. I understand that in less populated areas like Oklahoma, there may be fewer matches. It's something we're actively working on to ensure inclusivity across all states.

DA: I’ve been told many users have formed other group chats and communities of their own, even hosting their own in-person meetups. Tell me more about that.

CL: The community feature has truly brought people together. Through Yuzu, I've met numerous individuals and discovered vibrant subgroups. What started as community chats within the app has blossomed into user group chats on Instagram. I'm part of four of these chats, and they're buzzing with activity, hosting monthly meetups and forming close-knit bonds. I've encountered incredible stories, like a sous chef from Santa Monica who hosts Yuzu brunches for 12-15 people. Another group of around 20 had a meetup and exchanged flowers on Valentine's Day. There are also groups formed on Discord too. It's intriguing to witness the emergence of diverse sub-communities and how they shape their own dynamics. There are even location-based group chats and enthusiasts planning events like Ultra Festival and Governors Ball. My aim is to unite these communities back on Yuzu's chat space, but it’s great to see how it has fostered these connections.

DA: Do you think a platform like Yuzu, which leans heavily on Asian cultural pride, could have existed, say, a decade ago?

CL: While Yuzu doesn't discriminate and accepts users from all backgrounds, including non-Asians due to legal reasons, there's an assumption that a decade ago, Asian-focused apps might have been less focused on embracing Asian culture and more on possible fetishization. However, today, there's a stronger sense of Asian pride and community support. After Yuzu's launch, I observed how Asians rally to protect each other against racism within the community. Users are quick to report problematic accounts on the app, who may make racist or fetishizing comments. A lot of our users are under 30 years old, so it’s a pretty progressive generation, who have grown up seeing a positive wave of Asian representation in pop culture and media. I definitely think they reflect a growing empowerment and unity.

DA: What do you hope the impact of Yuzu can be?

CL: My hope is that people remain open-minded about Yuzu. While it's designed with a focus on Asian culture and prompts, we're inclusive and don't discriminate against anyone. We welcome everyone to join our community.

Secondly, I want to dispel any apprehensions about joining dating apps. Yuzu isn't just about finding romantic partners; it's also a social platform. You can easily switch to social mode if you're not interested in dating or just want to make friends. Yuzu is meant to be a fun and relaxed space, like a social playground where people can connect in various ways. Whether it's chatting in community spaces or sharing skincare tips, there's something for everyone. The belief at Yuzu is that the best connections happen when you can embrace all sides of being Asian and be unapologetically authentic. So, just be yourself. So, my message is simple: keep an open mind, and come as you are whenever you're ready. 

Published on March 26, 2024

Words by Daniel Anderson

Daniel Anderson is a disabled Chinese American adoptee based in Seattle. His freelance writing specialties include K-pop, entertainment, and food. He believes that any restaurant can be a buffet, and the key to success is to take a nap each day. Follow his adventures on Instagram @danzstan.