When I was an admissions office for a short time, my advice to asian applicants looking to be noticed was to go to clown school, perform as a semi-professional magician, or even excel at sports.
Violin, cello, piano, essays about translating for your immigrant parents, computers, math, science...all that stuff blends together after awhile and makes it hard for an admissions office to remember you when sitting around the table voting on applicants.
For example, if a white kid had the same piano + math achievements as an Asian one did in the same year, would he stand out more?
So a kid with incredible credentials who plays the violin and is awesome at math....who grew up in an igloo is going to get extra attention.
That same kid who went to a math/science academy in NYC has a tough path in front of him.