Asian District Features International Cuisine, Culture and Shopping

March 21, 2019

The roots of Oklahoma City’s Asian District date back to the 1970s, when thousands of Vietnamese immigrants flocked to Oklahoma City in the hope of escaping religious and political persecution following the end of the Vietnamese War. Sponsored by Catholic Charities and a number of protestant organizations, these refugees invested in and began to transform what was then the largely decayed—and therefore reasonably priced—business area on and around Classen Boulevard between Northwest 23rd and Northwest 30th. Since that time the original Vietnamese immigrants have been joined by folks from China and other Asian countries. Together they’ve created an enclave of Asian culture that includes scores of restaurants, retail boutiques, supermarkets and service outlets that cater to the area’s large Asian population, as well as others looking for a Pacific-oriented experience in the south-central United States. Known for its Asian fusion cuisine, the area offers nationally-lauded authentic Vietnamese food, but visitors can also find everything from traditional Hong Kong dim sum and Tokyo-style sushi to Taiwanese bubble tea and much, much more. Businesses in this district include Lido restaurant, Tsubaki Szechuan, a number of pho soup kitchens and the massive Super Cao Nguyen market. Yet all the eateries in this district aren’t limited to those with an Asian focus. Café Kacao specializes in Guatemalan food and offers breakfast and lunch. It is such a popular brunch spot on the weekends that it’s not unusual for the wait for a table to exceed 90 minutes. The Red Cup, which started as a coffee shop with a limited menu has evolved into a highly-touted destination for vegetarians and is nearly 100 percent vegan. And although there is nothing “Asian” about it, the district’s most famous landmark is the Milk Bottle Grocery located at 2426 N. Classen. Built in 1910, this small, nearly triangular structure, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1998, is a popular Route 66 photo-op, due to the giant milk bottle on top of the building. Although the building itself no longer houses any type of business, the huge bottle on top of it now features the logo for Braum’s, an Oklahoma-based ice cream and dairy store. One of the newest additions to the Asian district is due north of this building on Northwest 24th. Located in Military Park, the Vietnam War monument helps to illustrate why thousands of Vietnamese citizens immigrated to this country following the war. Dedicated in the summer of 2017 it features an American soldier and a South Vietnamese soldier standing back-to-back, and as such it is meant to serve as a metaphor for how they watched each other’s backs throughout that conflict.
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