California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Rosemead, Today’s Small Town America

California Fool's Gold
This installment of California Fool’s Gold takes us to Rosemead. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here.

Map of Rosemead, California

Pendersleigh & Sons‘ Official Map of Rosemead



First, a bit of background on the City of Rosemead. As is proving to be true of everywhere I go in Southern California, the area which now makes up Rosemead was formerly inhabited by the Tongva for thousands of years before the Spanish came. I’m considering just saying in regards to my posts about Southern California, “Unless I say otherwise, this area was inhabited by the Tongva for thousands of years before the Spanish came.” Anyway, the Spanish did come and built a mission there in what’s now Whittier Narrows. Due to flooding, they relocated the mission to its current home over in San Gabriel in 1775.


After the land moved from Mexico to the U.S.A.’s hands, pioneers began moving to the area like John and Harriet Guess in 1852. Around that time, Leonard and Amanda Rose bought a tract of land where they bred horses and they named their ranch “Rosemeade.”


In 1959 Rosemead became a city in name, although it was still pretty undeveloped compared to its neighbors. There were lots of vacant patches and even today there’s not really a downtown or town center unless you count the Diamond Square Shopping Center on Garvey.


Also of note is the Bánh Mì District with the popular chain Lee’s, Bánh Mì (&) Che Cali and, my personal favorite, Baguette Express. There’s also Paris Sandwich, Ba Le and Saigon Sandwich Tip Top’s Sandwiches, a Lee’s (part of a bánh mì chain) and — down on Garvey – Banh Mi Saigon. Bánh mì, for those who don’t know (if it weren’t for Ngoc cung, I would’ve gone on for God knows how long ignorant of the joys of bánh mì and so much else) are the culinary silver lining in the cloud of French imperialism of Vietnam — sandwiches made on wheat & rice flour baguettes with pickled carrots, daikon, gluten, roasted rice, meat (or mock meats), cilantro, chilis, pate, mayonnaise and other stuff. They’re delicious and, best of all, nearly always about two dollars for a decent-sized one. There was a short lived bánh mì place in Silver Lake where they charged upwards of $6.50 a sandwich! In the world of sandwiches and Silver Lake, I suppose it was quite reasonable. In the competitive world of bánh mì it was suicidal and I felt guilty and lazy for eating there even once. For that price I could’ve gotten about seven sandwiches at Che Cali!



Map of Los Angeles's Far East Side

Today Rosemead is a mostly Asian (61%) city, largely comprised of immigrants from mainland China and Vietnam as well as a sizable Burmese population. 34% of the population is Latino (mostly Mexican) of any race.


Rosemead businesses naturall largely reflect the nature of the populace, and Rosemead is therefore home the headquarters of Panda Express and Huy Fong Foods, the makers of Huy Fong’s Rooster Sauce — an American version of Thai Sriracha, a condiment found in all the best households.





As with most of the San Gabriel Valley (especially the Far Eastside), Rosemead is a real hot spot of cuisine — especially of cuisine from around East Asia. Cuisines represented by restaurants in Rosemead include American, Cajun, Cantonese, Chinese, Cuban, Dim Sum, Ecuadorian, French, Hawaiian, Hunan, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Salvadoran, Taiwanese, Thai, and the aforementioned Vietnamese. On the rare occasions on which I’ve eaten non-Viet food whilst in Rosemead, DiPilla’s or Lublae Thai have been the usual go-to spots because both are quite good and as the saying goes, “man cannot survive on bánh mì alone.”

Rosemead restaurants include A&J Hot Point Hot Pot, All-In Crab Cajun, Angel Thai House, Angelopoulos Jas Jim’s Burgers, Bachan’s Take Out, Baja Seafood Market & Trading, Bhodi, Big E’s Teriyaki & Burgers, Bun Boy, Bun Rieu Quan, Bánh Xèo Quán, Café Cau Vong, Cando’s, Casa Latina, Chameli, Charley Brown’s Steakhouse, China Bistro, China Way, Chocho’s Ramen, Com Tam Ninh Kieu, Dalian Small Stone Restaurant, Denmark Gefion,

Dong Phuong, East Dumpling King, East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant, 888 Seafood Restaurant, El Novillo, El Sisal, Fogata Mexicana, Gafuc Bakery, Golden Bull Noodle, Gumi, HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh, Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen, Harlam’s Kitchen, Hilario’s, Holly’s Drinking Water Store, Hot Pot, Huan Mao, Hunan Seafood, Hunan Seafood, JK Beijing Tasty House, JTYH, Jade Seafood & BBQ Restaurant, Jake’s Corner Café, Ji Rong, Jim’s Burgers, Jim’s Famous Quarter Pound Burger,

Karina’s Taqueria, Kim Bao Noodle House, The King Palace, La Casa de Abuelita, La Victoria, Le Arbre Tea House, Ledo Café, Lien Phat, Long An Water & Eggs, Lunar Feast Veggie Cuisine, Manna, Mayumba, Mexican Express, Mien Nghia Noodle Express, Mr. Steve’s Donuts, My Dung, Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, New Capital, New Happy Family, New Kim Bao, Nha Hang Tai Siu, Noodle Boy, Northern Chinese Restaurant, Ono Hawaiian BBQ,

Pho 54, Pho 89, Pho Icon, Pho Nha Trang, Pho Pasteur, Pho Saigon, Pho Saigon, Pho Thanh, Pho Valley, Phong Dinh, Pizza Kitchen, Pizza Kitchen & Deli, Pork Village, Pupusas y Mas, Quan Mien Trung, Rancho Los Magelles No 2, Red Restaurant, Rick’s Burgers, Rolling Rice, Rose City Pizza, Saigon 22, Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches, Sea Harbour, Seaworld Seafood Restaurant, Shaanxi Gourmet, Sukkho Thai, Sun City Seafood,

Sunday Café, TNG Seafood, Tabemono, Tacos al Carbon, Tai Sui, Tais Seafood, Tan Khai Hoan, Tan My Le Hoa, Tantawan Thai Kitchen, Taqueria 4 Amigos, Tasty Food, Tasty Snacks, Tech Hall Cafeteria, Thien An, Tin Tin, Tin Tin, Tofu Town, Trung Nguyen, V&L Restaurant, VK Food Products, Valley Super Burger, Wahoo Chaya, Xi Quan Noodle House, and Xin Bao.


Other supposedly notable residents include Taboo of the inedible Black Eyed Peas, Gerald Ford‘s “favorite Mexican dish” Vicki Carr, “Sultan of Sequins” Bob Mackie, and Rosemead natives Prima J.

NB: DO NOT watch the Prima J video unless you’re a nine-year-old girl or into Bratz and Myscene and you think unwarranted self-worship and obnoxiousness are charming.

Three years ago there was a scare in Rosemead where someone was leaving exploding pens on the ground around Rosemead High School. Those in the habit of picking up discarded litter were surprised with a non-lethal “explosion” in several cases before the perp, a disgruntled 17-year-old who’d been expelled was taken down by the authorities, his reign of domestic terrorism brought to an end before anyone’s eye was put out.

Eric Brightwell is a writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts.
Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

25 thoughts on “California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Rosemead, Today’s Small Town America

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