Chinatown is one of my very favorite areas of the city. It has the feeling of a real community, due in no small part to the aging Chinese population that still lives there among the new art galleries and restaurants. While Los Angeles as a whole is known for juxtaposing old and new, Chinatown feels different than anywhere else – a place you can go as noticed or unnoticed as you want to.
Unlike the Chinatowns of other major cities, Los Angeles’ Chinatown has always had a bit of Hollywood in its blood. The Central Plaza was designed by Hollywood set designers; Cecil B. DeMille himself donated props. And yet, the area has been largely Chinese-owned since its inception, with Chinese businesses, restaurants, and community centers dominating the landscape. All these factors lend to a sense of authentic inauthenticity that is impossible to escape. (Not that you’d want to!)
Nowhere else in the world grants the opportunity to visit a museum of velvet painting art, eat “slippery shrimp,” and buy two tiny red-eared slider pet turtles for only $5 – all in one day! And at the end of the day, there are few places I’d rather be than drinking Tsingtao in front of the jukebox at Hop Louie.
Chinatown Central Plaza
950 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, California 90012