Next stop, Little Mekong?


Foodies in the know flock to University Avenue in St. Paul for its barbecue pork, roast duck and steaming bowls of Vietnamese pho.

But do most people view the neighborhood as a destination?

Small-business advocates are working on an Asian-themed brand for the intersection of University and Western avenues. “Little Mekong” is the concept bandied about by the Asian Economic Development Association, in deference to the Southeast Asian river that ties together so many of the communities who work and live along this strip.

“We want to attract visitors to the area,” said AEDA’s executive director, Va-Megn Thoj. “There’s a perception that the area is not safe, that it’s unwelcome and dirty. The businesses and residents both have a role to address that perception.”

Past efforts to market the area’s Asian influences by such groups as University United have not been successful. But with Central Corridor light-rail construction beginning next year in the area, Thoj says brand development will better position the community for tourists and customers during the disruption.

The branding plan is still in the works, and AEDA wants public input. A community open house to gather ideas will be held 6 p.m. Thursday at Kings Crossing community room, 500 N. Dale St.

More information about the event can be found here.

MPR photo by Bill Alkofer

  • A. Morgan

    The photo of a roasted duck (with head) does not entice me in any way to go to Little Mekong. It’s a horrible picture, verging on torture. I am not a vegetarian, but viewing photos such as this one, it would be an easy decision to become one.

    If you think this is great advertising for this little restaurant, think again.

  • Anonymous Coward

    So, you’re saying you would be more comfortable with an image of the food item ground and mashed into a form unrecognizable from its origin to ease your conscience?

    “You can’t kill him if he’s wearing people clothes!”

    -H. Simpson

  • S.Diaz

    Little Mekong sounds like a good idea, but it’s high at risk for potential cheese factor. There needs to be a heavy emphasis on keeping the area’s Asian residents living there and happy (read: no $1200/mo Asian themed luxury condos driving away the current residents). Keep the food authentic, don’t dilute it to attract tourists. This means keeping the heads on the roasted ducks! I’m looking at you, A.Morgan! The rest of the world counts on these bits to survive. It’s NOT torture, it’s responsible and respectful to use every bit of an animal and not let it go to waste. If you can’t live with that, stick with your $12 Banh Mi (with Sriracha aioli, natch) at Chino Latino in Uptown. Long live Frogtown!

  • Claudia

    “Long live Frogtown!” Well, I like Frogtown, too. But isn’t this about changing the area’s name and image? I’d like to know how this decision was made and how other residents feel about this.

  • skb

    Great post S.Diaz! I agree with all of your points.

    Went on the food tour sat & am committed to supporting my favorite places (and others) in the area.

    Bangkok Thai Deli (like a trip to Bangkok without the 8000 mile trip – most authentic thai food in entire metro)

    Ha Tien Market (best bahn mi in the city) (I get mine with bbq pork with fish sauce on the side)