Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You can call it Little Saigon if you want.

The historic International District of Seattle stretches from southeast of Pioneer Square all the way up to the Rizal Bridge to Beacon Hill. Those of us that are from here call it 'the ID.' The ID has seen it's share of tough times. The Kingdome took out blocks and blocks of the neighborhood. Building use restritions mean that most of the apartment buildings are vacant. The freeway sliced the district in half. Jackson Street used to be the main drag of the ID, just a few blocks from the original Skid Road. Jackson itself was charactarized by Japanese Americans on one end and on the other end, a terribly important music scene was going on. Remember in the movie Ray when Ray Charles gets off the bus and meets Quincy Jones? That was Jackson Street.

Anyway, the stadiums came in and pushed people out. Building code emptied the hotels. I-5 split the ID into east and west. Families moved to other neighborhoods. Still, it is the heart of Asian Seattle.

A few years ago, the mostly Chinese merchants west of I-5 made a big stink about calling their section "Chinatown." Yes, most of the residents are elderly Filipino; yes, there are still obvious traces of the Japanese American roots there.... But the merchants do have a point: white people, especially the ones not from around here, WANT to call it Chinatown, because in New York and San Francisco it's called Chinatown, because they like the idea of an ethnic enclave, because it's good for business. Ok, Chinese merchants, make money. You can call it Chinatown if you want. Signs to the neighborhood now say "Chinatown International District."

A word to the white people who hate political correctness: it's ALWAYS been called the International District. YOU PEOPLE called it the International District. "Chinatown" is a marketing move directed at YOU. When you ask us, "why do you have to be so PC, why don't you just call it 'chinatown," the answer is, "you are a moron." Got it?

On the other side of the freeway from "Chinatown" is a part of the ID that became very Vietnamese in the 1970s. It is NOT called "Chinatown." Some people call it "Little Saigon." And you can call it that, if it helps you.

I've eaten at Saigon Bistro on Jackson street two days in a row, now, to get the nasty taste of Saigon Pearl (Broadway) out of my mind. Yesterday, I had grilled pork and rice; today I had herby little beef sausage brochette with rice. Each are only $6.00.

I should spent more time extolling the praises of Saigon Bistro, but I want to talk about how unpleasant Saigon Pearl was.

First, I didn't really understand the menu. Second, the tea was nasty. Third, I ordered beef skewers with rice, and what got delivered to my table was beef skewers with fried rice, which was disappointing. The fried rice was cooked in turmeric, vegetronic frozen peas and carrots, and rewarmed in oil. Yuck. I was given a fork but no spoon, which is a tell-tale sign that no Asian people don't eat there. Finally, I had to ask for fish sauce! The waiter looked surprised! Oh! You eat fish sauce? Very sad. Sheesh, I hope the pho is better, for their sake.

Saigon Bistro was faster, cheaper, better. I might even go again tomorrow!

Probably not. Maybe! Nah. Well, maybe...

1 comment:

-tania said...

>When you ask us, "why do you have to be so PC, why don't you just call it 'chinatown," the answer is, "you are a moron." Got it?

jpv this is great. you are #1.