Searching for Little Saigon in America: NYC

Over the weekend I went up to NYC to the Elmhurst Queens area to check out the Vietnamese community up there.  I know on Mott Street there are two Vietnamese shops and a cart, but I wanted to see a larger picture.  So taking my project, "Searching for Little Saigon in America" to NYC I went to Elmhurst and saw that it was really a large pocket of the Asian American community.  I went towards Joju Modern Vietnamese sandwich shop to check it out and to get some lunch.  I was pretty hungry!  

I did see some pho shops and a major supermarket that had mostly Chinese and some Vietnamese products inside.  So this was not necessarily a Little Saigon in this area.  I could be wrong and I should go back up there to explore.  I was hoping to walk by nail salons, which a majority of Vietnamese run and own, more banh mi shops and markets.  But I didn't find them in the area I explored.  

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After meeting and talking to Kelly, the blogger, I had some new ideas- I am going to have to start interviewing people which means... I need to learn Vietnamese and or get a translator and try to see if I can make a kickstarter program to help fund this project.

In Search of Little Saigon in America.

This weekend was full of food and time spent with friends.  Saturday I went to a picnic that my friends' folks hold annually- I Smell a Grilling Party!

This project that I am currently working on, I named it, as the title shows, "In Search of Little Saigon."  Originally I was planning on going back to Vietnam in the Fall to explore and photograph the food there.  But at this moment that does not look it is going to happen.  I am heading to Texas and then to California, leaving me with only a week of vacation days from work.  Which sounds kinda lame, but it is what it is.  I don't want to fly all the way to Vietnam for a week or two weeks.  It will have to be a month or more to make it worthwhile.  

So since I decided not to head to Vietnam, I realized I could do a series here as like a primer.  There is a huge population of Vietnamese immigrants in America and they brought much of what they knew of Vietnam here.  Like Italians have pockets of neighborhoods, some call Little Italy, China Chinatown, the Vietnamese set up communities called Little Saigon.  Saigon is what we know today as Ho Chi Minh City.  These communities are all over country where Vietnamese immigrants settled.  

So while I probably won't get the street stall, which I really wanted to go back to, I will have an almost similar experience photographing them here in the US.  Till I can make it back to Vietnam for that required time frame.  But as the idea stewed in my head, this project became much more fleshed out of an idea.  What traditions have we, as Vietnamese, brought over to wherever we immigrated to, what do we look like in this country, what part of our culture did we lose as assimilated into this culture?  

Like any place, sometimes the best way to judge how a culture is doing is going to its markets.  So that's where I am starting.

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Washington Avenue, Philadelphia.