Best New Ethnic Neighborhood San Francisco 2004 - Little Saigon
The heart of the Tenderloin may not be as touristed a locale as espresso-scented North Beach or the alleyways of Chinatown, but since the fall of Saigon three decades ago, this bedraggled neighborhood has been the commercial and cultural center of the city's Vietnamese community. There are 2,000 Vietnamese-American residents, 250 Vietnamese-owned businesses, and several citizens' groups in the district, and its annual Tet (New Year's) celebration is popular indeed. Last September the Board of Supervisors officially designated two blocks of lowermost Larkin "Little Saigon," and a stroll along this edgy corridor reveals the earmarks of a real community: the Minh-Tan sandwich shop; Yann Phuy fine jewelry; Thông video rentals; the dental offices of Nha Khoa Gia; the Hu Tieu Mi seafood restaurant; the Starlight travel agency; and the Hiep Thanh grocery and its array of frozen cuttlefish balls, canned banana blossoms, packaged tapioca sticks, and fresh quail eggs. Green and yellow banners depicting an old Saigon marketplace line the streets and sidewalks now, and there are plans to erect a gateway at the corner of Eddy Street to more prominently designate the burgeoning neighborhood of Sai Gon Nho.