Today my family stopped by Giò Chả Đức Hương, a shop in San Jose that specializes in Vietnamese meat products like chả lụa, nem nướng, and bì. Vietnamese women staffed the front of this very busy shop, but in the back there were a few Latin American workers chatting in Spanish while wrapping up styrofoam trays of bánh cuốn.
In Silicon Valley it’s fairly common to see Latin American immigrants working in Asian ethnic businesses. While they’re generally hidden from view in the back of the house, I’ve been to dim sum restaurants here where you have Latino workers pushing carts and calling out names of dishes in Cantonese. That’s a very rare sight in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, where it seems there’s a large enough supply of low-wage, often undocumented workers from Mainland China and Southeast Asia to fill these dirty, difficult, and dangerous jobs in the ethnic economy.