In Orange County, Snapshots of the New America [Photos]

By Julianne Hing Jul 30, 2014

Asian-Americans are the country’s fastest growing racial group. And demographic shifts in Orange County, Calif., where the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population is the third largest in the nation, provide a glimpse of what that actually looks like. 

Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian-American population in Orange County grew by a whopping 41 percent and the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community by 17 percent. The county as a whole grew by just 6 percent, according to research (PDF) released this month by Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and Orange County Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA).

As of 2010, Orange County was home to more than 19,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and just under 600,000 Asian-Americans. Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos and Chinese are the county’s most populous ethnicities, but the labels Asian-American, Native American and Pacific Islander encompass more than two dozen nationalities. As such, Asian and Pacific Islander communities have distinct histories, socioeconomic experiences and educational outcomes. "With this growth, we’re seeing an increase in AAPI needs and an increase in poverty and unemployment," says Advancing Justice-L.A. research analyst Kristin Sakaguchi, noting that this reality contradicts prevailing stereotypes of Asian-Americans as universally wealthy and economically successful.

There is no singular, definitive Asian-American experience. Here now, is a glimpse of slices of the community, collected over three days last week in Orange County.


99 Ranch Market in Irvine.


Banh Mi Che Cali advertises a buy-two-banh-mi-get-one-free deal.


Sweets and meals to go at Banh Mi Che Cali in Garden Grove


Sunday youth fellowship at Bethel Irvine, a Korean church that opened in 1974. Sunday attendance averages 4,000, says its reverend, Charles Cho.


Outside a Taiwanese-Chinese restaurant in Irvine.


In upscale Irvine’s Diamond Jamboree restaurant and shopping plaza, the Taiwanese bakery 85C Bakery Cafe consistently has lines out the door.


Kapit Bahay, in Anaheim’s Manilatown, has been a mainstay in the community for 18 years.


Immigrant and family-run businesses fill Orange County.


On the last Friday of Ramadan, families prepare to break their fast at the Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC). The large majority of the mosque’s congregants are Indian and Pakistani, though the mosque is also home to Muslims of Somali, Iraqi and Afghani descent, says ISOC’s Sabiha Quidwai.


GG Billiards and Ping Pong, open for the last decade, sits in a Korean strip mall in Garden Grove.