A Taste of Asia

LA's Little Saigon offers exotic fruits and, for some shoppers, a taste of home.

Landon Nordeman

The jackfruit represents everything I love about Los Angeles and its environs. Last June, when I was visiting Little Saigon—a handful of towns south of LA that is home to a vast array of Southeast Asian stores and restaurants—a woman called out to me in Vietnamese as I passed by her produce shop, in a strip mall, "Sister! I have good jackfruit today!" She was holding a huge one in her arms; behind her were scores more, piled high in bins. After I'd paid, she offered to cut up the fruit, which I'd never seen fresh in this country. One taste of the pungent, sweet yellow flesh, and I was back in Vietnam. —Andrea Nguyen, author of Asian Dumplings (Ten Speed Press, 2009)