“There’s still this conservative element that said teaching Chinese meant you were teaching communism,” said Chen, who lost the race. “Meanwhile, people are fighting to get into our district so their children — of whatever ethnicity — can take these classes.”
Food often draws outsiders to the region, which is packed with mom-and-pop restaurants where a feast can cost less than US$20.
Last summer, Jonny Hwang, 32, a son of Taiwanese immigrants, created the 626 Night Market. (The name is a play on the region’s area code.) More than 15,000 people clogged the streets to get in.
“It surprised everyone,” Hwang said. “All of the sudden we had a community and something that even other people wanted.”