“In St. Louis, everybody knows Olive Boulevard is Chinatown.”
ST. LOUIS — Along a busy section of Olive Boulevard in University City, just east of Interstate 170, you’ll find various Asian shops and restaurants. It’s the city’s unofficial Chinatown.
“In St. Louis, everybody knows Olive Boulevard is Chinatown,” said John Jiang, manager and owner of Olive Supermarket.
There is no official welcoming sign, but the signs you do see here speak for themselves. This is where Chinese heritage is alive and well in the Lou.
“My family loves sharing their culture because it’s just … what they grew up with. It’s what they found comfort to … so they want to share that comfort with other people,” said Jackie Chen, son of the owner of Wei Hong Bakery.
The markets have all the essential items. Rows and rows of products of all kinds, including staples of the Chinese diet, from fresh vegetables and herbs, to fresh fish.
Olive Supermarket owner and manager, John Jiang, said the store was among the first Asian markets in St. Louis to have live fish in its store.
There are also many restaurants in Chinatown, each with their own unique menus showcasing everything from Hunan to Szechuan to Cantonese style cooking. At Wonton King, owner Ling Dai said her food is prepared with pride.
“All of our customers were asking what’s inside our food. It’s so good. I would say love and passion,” said Dai.
But not everything in Chinatown is what it may seem from the outside.
Wei Hong Bakery resides inside an old movie theater and was one of the first Chinese businesses on Olive. During any day of the week, you can find it full of customers looking for baked goods as well as traditional roast duck and pig.
While Chinatown offers a slice of Chinese life, the people here are proud to be here. They say America is the only place in the world that offers the American Dream, giving them the chance at a better life, and a chance to be themselves.
“This country, America, is not heaven but near heaven. The best country in the world,” Dai said.