Ree Wisittasak, 38, a Thai-American nurse who’s lived near Philadelphia’s Little Saigon stretch for 20 years and used to work in several Vietnamese-owned nail salons in the area, says she shops at the nearby First Oriental Market, which stocks Vietnamese foods, every couple weeks.

Though she’s not Vietnamese herself, she’s learned some of the language since living in the area, and how to make some of the cuisine.

“Grocery stores are mixed,” she said recently, as she browsed the tea aisle of the grocery store. “I know people who are Laotian, Thai, Chinese, Cambodian who come here.”

Wisittasak came to the U.S. when she was 14, living in Pittsburgh with her family in an area with few Asian-Americans. Coming to South Philly a few years later, she remembers, she was finally able to find ingredients from her grandmother’s old Thai recipes at grocery stores like First Oriental.

“[It] felt like going back to my culture, like I was at home,” she said. “Being in South Philly makes me feel like less of a minority.”