It’s good to have friends — especially visionary ones who want things to be prosperous for you now and into the future. That’s the mission of Friends of Little Saigon, a grassroots organization made up of residents and businesspeople from the cool, dynamic (and delicious) Vietnamese pocket of Seattle’s International District.
Little Saigon, as it’s known, officially came alive in the 1980s. New arrivals from Vietnam wanted their own commercial and cultural hub, so they set up shop (about 100 in total) alongside the Vietnam Buddhist Temple and the Vietnamese Catholic Church in a district just east of Chinatown.
The area has undergone transformation after transformation over the decades. From an area teaming with jazz clubs to its current state as a colorful collection of shops, salons, markets, restaurants and family-run grocers frequented by residents that hail from Vietnam and other Asian countries, Little Saigon is preparing itself for even more change.
That’s where Friends of Little Saigon comes in. This homegrown community group wants to make sure that the rich mix of Vietnamese tradition and American culture continues in the neighborhood long into the future.
Established in 2011, Friends of Little Saigon looks to improve its community by collaborating with locals, City officials and the wider community of Puget Sound to keep the area fun, welcoming and connected to its roots. There are meet ups, cultural events, Vietnamese movie nights and a Facebook page devoted to keeping everyone engaged.
And who wouldn’t want Little Saigon to keep on keeping on? If you love steaming bowls of authentic Pho, scratch Bahn Mi sandwiches from Lan Hue, or just some aggressive open-air bargain shopping at Hau Hau wholesalers, this is the place. Plus, if you fancy yourself a chef of exotic fare, there are ingredients here you just can’t find anywhere else. Stop by Viet Wah market for Vietnamese herbs, live Puget Sound oysters, hard-to-find produce, like jackfruit and rambutan, or an unimaginable array of fish sauces.
To get here, you can follow the fragrant aromas of all the local delicacies. Or you can find it bordered by South Main Street to the north, Rainier Avenue South to the east, South Dearborn Street to the south, and I5 to the west.