By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
The 1980 census showed that California supplanted New York as the principal ethnic melting pot of America. The diversity of California offers residents a rich mosaic of food, culture and celebrations.
In Southern California ethnic enclaves abound including Chinatown, the Byzantine-Latino Quarter, Filipinotown, Little Saigon, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Little Bangladesh, Little Moscow, Little Tokyo, Croatian Place, Via Italia, Tehrangeles and many others.
Here are a few highlights of the Southern California melting pot.
Westminster, Orange County
After the fall of Saigon during the end of the Viet Nam War in 1975 immigrants settled in Westminster, creating the Little Saigon community.
The district embraces Fountain Valley, Garden Grove and Westminster in Orange County. It is the largest Little Saigon in the United States.
Westminster boasts a Little Saigon business district of restaurants and businesses more than a mile long.
The Asian Garden Mall
9200 Bolsa Ave., Westminster 92683
This Vietnamese owned mall may be small but it offers a charming look at Vietnamese culture. Enjoy a large food court featuring banh mi sandwiches and bubble tea shops, trinket stalls and jewelry stores.
Museum of the Republic of Vietnam
9842 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 205, Westminster 92683
This is the first and only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the Republic of Vietnam and its military.
Vietnam War Memorial
14180 All American Way at 13th Street, Westminster 92683
The Vietnam War Memorial was dedicated on April 27, 2003. It features large statues of an American soldier and a South Vietnamese soldier standing together atop a black marble base with water cascading to the ground. In the center is an “eternal flame” bronze urn.
Downtown Los Angeles
This three-square-mile neighborhood, just south of Hollywood and west of downtown Los Angeles never seems to sleep. Known as K-Town to the locals, the area is home to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in L.A.
K-Town has L.A.’s largest concentration of 24-hour bars, clubs, restaurants and karaoke hotspots.
928 S Western Ave., Los Angeles 90006
KTP melds upscale boutiques with standard apparel and cosmetics shops. It offers a superb food court with many of its stalls selling authentic, inexpensive Korean street food.
955 S. Vermont Ave. #G, Los Angeles 90006
Park’s BBQ offers authentic Korean BBQ with high quality USDA Prime and Kobe style beef. It is considered one of the best restaurants in L.A.
Kang Hodong Baekjeong
3465 W 6th St. Ste 20, Los Angeles 90020
This beloved destination for Korean BBQ is dedicated to serving premium quality cuts of meat.
Korean Cultural Center
5505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90036
The Korean Cultural Center works to promote Korea’s traditional culture, language and history to the public. The year 2023 marks an important year in history as the center celebrates the 70th year of the Korea-U.S. alliance and the 120th year of Korean immigration to the United States. The center features history, art exhibits, Korean language classes, lectures and events.
727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles 90012
The first Chinese community in Los Angeles settled in the area around what is now Union Station in the mid-19th century. After the construction of Union Station displaced the “old” Chinatown a “new” Chinatown arose after the Chinatown Central Plaza was dedicated in June 1938. Currently, the Chinatown area is less than one square mile and is bordered by Main Street to the east, Yale Street to the west, Cesar Chavez Avenue to the south and Bernard Street to the north.
913 N Broadway, Los Angeles, 90012
Broadway Cuisine now inhabits the space where the iconic Plum Tree Inn served guests for 40 years, closing in 2020. Opening in 2021 Broadway Cuisine is a 6,000-square-foot restaurant that evokes the old-school Chinese dining palaces. It offers a menu with more than 240 items. Enjoy favorites like egg foo young, Peking duck and moo shu pork.
Yang Chow Restaurant
819 N Broadway, Los Angeles 90012
If there is one dish you must try at Yang Chow Restaurant, which was founded by the Yang family in 1977, it is the restaurant’s classic slippery shrimp. The restaurant boasts a 100-item menu and is located in the heart of Chinatown.
Chinese American Museum
425 N. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles 90012
Symbolically housed in the oldest and last surviving structure of Los Angeles’ original Chinatown, the 7,200 square foot Chinese American Museum embodies a cultural and physical link to the past.
It is the first museum in Southern California dedicated to the Chinese American experience and history. Opened on Dec. 18, 2003 it reflects the development of an immigrant history that began over 150 years ago when the first major Chinese settlement was documented in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles 90027
Thai Town is a six-block neighborhood flanking Hollywood Boulevard between Normandie and Western avenues, its entrances being marked by the Thai Town Apsonsi Gateway, two statues of apsonsi, a mythical half human, half lion angel in Thai folklore. Thai Town is bordered by the neighborhoods of Los Feliz to the north and east, central Hollywowod to the west and Little Armenia to the south. It is the only officially recognized Thai Town in the United States. Here are some restaurants to try.
Ruen Pair 5257 Hollywood Blvd.
Thai Original Barbeque Hollywood 5324 Hollywood Blvd. 90027
Kruang Tedd 5151 Hollywood Blvd. 90027
Sanamluang Cafe Hollywood 5176 Hollywood Blvd. 90027
Pa Ord Noodle 5301 Sunset Blvd. 90027
Boran Thai Restaurant 5401 Hollywood Blvd. 90027
Hollywood Thai Restaurant 5241 Hollywood Blvd. 90027