Why I Heart The 626

Recently, the Los Angeles Times ran the article,  “The Asian American youth culture is coming of age in ‘the 626‘,” highlighting the role of people like Andrew and David Fung, who have brought much deserved attention to the San Gabriel Valley or 626 (which is the area code).

For those of you who don’t know, the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) is located east of Los Angeles city and represents home to many many many Asian/Asian Americans.

I was born and raised in the SGV. And if it’s up to me, I’ll also die here. When I got married, I told my wife that I didn’t want to ever leave.

People ask me why I love the 626 so much. It’s simple. It’s because it’s the only place in America that I have ever felt truly comfortable.

Let me explain.

As a kid growing up, I was always part of the majority. I rarely felt the sting of racism because always at least half of the people looked like me.

And in those rare instances that people tried to be racist, they were the one who were shamed and moved out of the neighborhood. Not me.

And the crazy thing was that the area didn’t become worse with their absence. It actually got better!


The schools became some of the best in the state.

As an adult, I love the food. I recently traveled to Taiwan for my movie and found the food comparable to the food I ate in the SGV. The biggest difference was that in Taiwan all the food was good. In the SGV, you just have to know the right places to go.

I’m always amazed when I have to leave the SGV and see how many non-Asians there are in other parts of Los Angeles County.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m in a bubble.

The ironic thing is that the older I’ve gotten the more I’m okay with bubbles.

Do you love the SGV too? Leave a comment and let me know what you love about it.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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