YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Southeast Asia in Westminster

September 16, 2008|Katherine Tulich | Special to The Times

ORANGE COUNTY'S Little Saigon is the heart of the largest Vietnamese American community in Southern California. Though the neighborhood officially designated as such refers to a roughly 3-square-mile area in Westminster anchored around Bolsa Avenue and Magnolia Street, these days it stretches into Fountain Valley and Garden Grove.

Paying respects

The Vietnam War Memorial in Sid Goldstein Freedom Park (14180 All American Way, Westminster) was sculpted by Vietnamese-born Tuan Nguyen and dedicated in 2003. Its centerpiece is a 15-foot-tall bronze statue of an American and Vietnamese soldier standing side by side.

Shoppers' paradise

The Asian Garden Mall (9200 Bolsa Ave., Westminster) and the adjacent Asian Village (9211 Bolsa Ave., Westminster) form the center of Little Saigon. Besides a plethora of places to eat, there are rows of jewelry stores specializing in gold and jade, fabric shops selling silk, and music stores with many CDs from abroad as well as from locally recorded acts. For produce and other ingredients, it's hard to beat the 70,000-square-foot Shun Fat Westminster Superstore (15440 Beach Blvd., Westminster, [714] 891-6288) with its aisles of fresh vegetables, spices and noodles, and an extensive seafood counter with tanks of live fish and crustaceans.

Noodling around

With more than 200 restaurants in the area, you can find pho, the popular hot steamy noodle soup with meat, vegetables and a side of condiments, on practically every corner. One of the most reliable is Pho 79 (9200 Bolsa Ave., No. 117, [714] 893 1883) in the Asian Garden Mall. But old-fashioned noodle shops are also getting a modern makeover with the influx of a younger generation, such as at Pholicious (10585 Slater Ave., 4A, Fountain Valley, [714] 378 9923,, which serves variations such as a "no carb" pho with green vegetables.

Baked goodies

With Vietnam's French colonial past, it's no wonder bakeries are a specialty here. Savor iced coffee with condensed milk and pastries at Le Croissant Dore (9122 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, (714) 895 3070), or banh mi sandwiches at Gala Bakery (15020 Moran St., Westminster, [714] 891 3358), which makes its own baguettes and pate.

Dining, tres chic

Many restaurants on the outskirts of Little Saigon have gone up-market with impressively decorated establishments showcasing Vietnamese cuisine's blend of Asian and French influences. The impressive bi-level Brodard Chateau (9100 Trask Ave., Garden Grove, [714] 899 8273, serves an extensive Euro-Asian menu, while S Vietnamese Fine Dining (545 Westminster Mall Drive, Westminster, [714] 898 5092, has traditional specialties like bo luc lac ("shaken beef") and goi ca (ceviche with halibut).


The Guide on the Web

Visit The Guide, our tip sheet to entertainment in SoCal, for more picks, listings and reader reviews at

Los Angeles Times Articles