Strolling the multi-levels of open sidewalks inside San Gabriel Square, you can forget that you're actually in the U.S. This sprawling 12-acre, 220,000-square-foot mega-mall anchors the junction of the Asian-majority cities of Monterey Park and San Gabriel. SGS is the only Asian American mall actually anchored by an Asian department store (Focus) as well as a Ranch 99 Supermarket. You can have dim sum at a gigantic Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant or any other kind of Asian food at any of the dozen other eateries. Between SGS and the lively, upscale minimall directly across Valley Blvd., you can immerse yourself in a thoroughly Asian excursion of shopping, dining, boba snacking and even getting your hair styled.
KINTETSU & MIYAKO MALLS
1737 Post Street
(sandwiched between Post and Geary, from Laguna to Fillmore)
San Francisco, CA
Best Japanese Downtown Mall
You haven't visited San Francisco's Japantown until you've strolled the length of the long, contiguous Kintetsu and Miyako indoor malls sandwiched between Post and Geary streets. It offers up an impressive amount of contemporary Japanese commercial culture, being anchored on the uphill end by the Miyako Hotel and on the downhill end by a Kinokuniya Bookstore. In between is a gracious but lively promenade bordered by enough Japanese restaurants, bakeries and novelty shops to tempt most visitors to enjoy a meal and to browse. It's a memorable counterpoint to the hubbub of Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square.
Silicon Valley Asians are used to big impressive Asian malls. The biggest reason is Milpitas Square, all 17 acres of it. That's the expanse of five football fields to hold 60 establishments, including a spacious Ranch 99 market. And because Silicon Valley brings together professionals of every major Asian nationality, MS serves up 18 restaurants, California's largest collection of Asian restaurants under one roof, including 9 varieties of Chinese cuisine, two Japanese, a Vietnamese, French-Vietnamese, Filipino, Malaysian, Thai, Californian and a Steak House. The Mayflower Seafood Restaurant is the Valley's largest, with banquet seating for 500.
928 South Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Best Corean (Korean) Food Court
The Plaza is one of the most modern structures in L.A.'s Koreatown but is a veteran of the L.A. Riots of 1992. It survived unscathed because its windowless facade was designed to block out the dangers perceived even back when it was conceived in the 1980s. Inside, the Plaza is an immaculately gleaming self-contained three-level world. Most visitors are impressed by the elegant glass-and-brass elevator and the toney boutiques on the upper two floors. But the real action is on the ground floor with its bustling Plaza Supermarket and the best Asian food court in downtown L.A. Visitors can feast on Corean, Japanese, Chinese and western lunches and snacks. The ambience isn't quite as appealing as the newer, more open Koreatown Galleria but he food is tastier and surprisingly reasonable in price. There are also two full-fledged restaurants for more formal dining, as well as a cafˇ and two bakeries.
Hong-Kong City Mall is such a treat because it's a complete surprise for most first-time visitors. As the biggest Asian indoor mall in the southeastern U.S., with two dozen restaurants and cafes and several dozen more shops and offices, it has the feel of a tiny planned city. The nouvelle Asian architecture, ponds covered with lily pads, and the impressive array of Asian restaurants make HKCM a centerpiece of Houston's Asian American community and an attraction for non-Asians looking for a cultural experience along the Asian sprawl of Bellaire Boulevard.
SUPER H MART
10780 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA
Best DC Area Asian Supermarket
It's more than the Super H Mart's size that makes it such a welcome addition to Northern Virginia — it's also the sparkling designer look and feel. Until it opened in late 2002 NoVa Asians had to make do with supermarkets with a distinctly second-rate look and feel. But Super H actually goes the big mainstream chains one better by stocking its gargantuan 54,000 square feet with a full array of premium-grade produce, fresh meats and standard brands in addition to a bewildering array of Asian and other ethnic foods. It even offers a small but well-stocked food court for on-the-spot Asian dining.
The Asian Garden Mall is an air-conditioned oasis in the minimall wasteland that is Orange County's bustling Little Saigon. AGM offers not only relief from the heat, but the attractions of a food court lined with tantalizing grills, cafˇs, bakeries, snack shops and pho restaurants. Completed in 1987, AGM draws not only Vietnamese, but Chinese, Coreans (Koreans) and other nationalities with its monumental facade, big white marble statues, landscaped courtyard and central location just a half mile south of Garden Grove's Koreatown, between Anaheim's giant amusement parks and the beaches of Huntington and Newport. On weekends you will want to get there early because the huge parking lot out back fills up fast.
New York's favorite Asian mall is actually across the Hudson in Edgewater, New Jersey. Aside from the fact that there's no room for a 100,000 square-foot Asian mall in Manhattan or Queens, a Mitsuwa Shuttle Bus leaves 15 minutes past each hour from Platform #51 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal (on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets) for the half-hour ride. In any event, New York's charms are sometimes best enjoyed from across a body of water. The MMP's waterside location near the Binghampton steamboat restaurant is one of its peculiar attractions. The 55,000-square-foot supermarket retains a distinctly Japanese skew in its offerings, but its clientele is predominantly the Coreans (Koreans) and Chinese who make up most of the area's large Asian population. Inside the supermarket are Asian fast-food counters, a bakery and 35,000-square-feet of shops.