604 Neighbourhoods: Little Saigon

Little Saigon - Along Kingsway in Vancouver

604 Neighbourhoods is a weekly series appearing on the Inside Vancouver blog that will feature photos, history, and information about some of the city’s most distinct communities. Today’s feature is Little Saigon, a section of Kingsway between Fraser and Knight streets.

Neighbourhood Overview

The Little Saigon business district was only recently given this title, distinguishing it as a unique part of the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood. Back in 2011, Vancouver City Council approved the name, as did a large portion of the city’s Vietnamese community members, however some controversy lingered.

“…Not everyone in the community [agreed] with the choice. Some feel it would re-open wounds left from the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. When the conflict ended, the capital, once called Saigon, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the Communists. Vancouver’s first Vietnamese immigrants left to escape that regime.” [News1130]

Supporters pushed through, even presenting city staff with a petition with 3,000 signatures, and after consultations with the community the name was approved for the district. On Sunday, May 12, 2013 there was a parade along Kingsway leading up to an opening ceremony for Little Saigon.

Little Saigon - Along Kingsway in Vancouver

Kingsway (called “Vancouver Road” until 1913) is historically a major thoroughfare for travel between New Westminster and Vancouver. It has several distinct business districts that range from Caribbean, Russian, and Filipino communities to East Asian and French as well. Little Saigon is packed with delis, restaurants, beauty salons, coffee shops, and bakeries.

Dining

Whether you’re looking for a crispy Banh Mi baguette sandwich with shredded chicken and pickled veggies or a wildly flavourful bowl of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) your cravings will be satisfied in Little Saigon. The highlight of the neighbourhood is definitely its dining options and as Sherman Chan from Sherman’s Food Adventures wrote: “If Robson can be declared the Ramen corridor, then Kingsway should really be known as the street of Banh Mi.”

Yelp Search for Banh Mi (left) & Pho (right)

Yelp Search for Banh Mi (left) & Pho (right)

Sherman is one of this city’s most trusted food bloggers so I followed up to ask him what makes Little Saigon such a hot spot. “I believe visitors should explore Kingsway (particularly in between Fraser and Knight) not only because it is the some of the best Vietnamese food in the GVRD, but because it is a place that most tourists do not visit.” Sherman added: “There is an honesty about the food. No frills, no gimmicks and reasonably-priced.”

Attractions & Getting Around

If you would like to visit Little Saigon you can hop on a #8 Fraser bus, #20 Victoria, #25 UBC up Nanaimo, or the #19 Metrotown that goes between the Burnaby shopping hub and Stanley Park.

Little Saigon - Along Kingsway in Vancouver

Stay in a while in Kensington-Cedar Cottage to visit the Vancouver Public Library, one of the neighbourhoods many parks (including the off-leash area at Kingscrest Park), or the Kinsington Community Centre and Pool.

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6 Responses to 604 Neighbourhoods: Little Saigon

  1. Pingback: 604 Neighbourhoods: Little Saigon | mirixx's Blog

  2. stephanie b.

    There was no community consultation. The only notice I received was an invitation to an event unveiling the new name. No person’s name was attached to this item. No one knocked on my door to explain the banners. Absolutely no notice was provided in the proceeding two years although my name is listed on the city rolls and there is a listserve in place that has over a 1000 members from the neighbourhood. I wonder if the 3000 who signed in support of this name change even live in the community. This is a diverse community and it includes many ethnicities and interests including Vietnamese. Vancouver doesn’t need more neighbourhoods carved up and dominated by a single identifiable ethnic group. It needs fewer.

    • jennifer

      Hi Stephanie, can you contact me. I would like to talk about this with you. thuncher@shaw.ca

    • Tim

      Just like new building proposals in your block. Read local newspaper or city website. No one will waste time to knock on your door and say, ” hey !what do you think?”. If you want a fancy city service, you need to pay more tax.

  3. Tim

    When I first moved into this neighbourhood in 1986, I looked around and said “Cool, I moved into Little Saigon”. I think the city just acknowledged what the area reflected. I’ve been telling friends that I live in little Saigon for 27 years, so I have no problem with the city recognizing it.

  4. Frankie

    Could not agree with Stephanie more. A lot of people here in KCC very angry about this designation. There was zero public consultation. The Vietnamese business community surveyed only Vietnamese people and suddenly our good friends at City Hall made this decision. This designation was probably truer 20 years ago, but the majority of people moving into this neighbour for the past 10 years are mostly not Vietnamese Canadians. During the last federal election Peter Mansbridge noted that Vancouver Kingsway is probably the most ethnically diverse neighbourhood in the country.