One of my favorite places to visit in Los Angeles is Chinatown. With its mysterious shops and many restaurants, l always enjoy a trip to Chinatown. I first went there as a child while on a trip from Kansas City, with my parents. I still remember that I felt like I was in China while I was there. I was only around 7 or 8 years old when I was there, but I still have a foggy memory of eating chop suey in an elaborately decorated restaurant in Chinatown. Even though it only covers about a square mile, Chinatown is packed with interesting smells, sites, and people. You’re in a different world when you are there. One thing that I love about the place is how friendly the people are. The folks working in the shops and most people who you meet on the street, are very friendly and helpful.
I began taking my daughter, nicknamed Day, to Chinatown while she was just a toddler. She loved to go there; the shop owners would look on warily as two 1/2-year-old Day came into their shops with me. The gift shops usually contained many delicate ceramic statues and trinkets. Have you heard the expression, “a bull in a china shop”? I’m sure they figured a 2-year-old would be worse. They didn’t know that Day never had the problem of picking up fragile items and dropping them, or otherwise damaging them. I kept an eye on her as she freely walked through the shops, marveling at the plants, Chinese good luck charms, and fine china.
After Nicky and I had got married, I introduced our son Key to Chinatown. We would always have a ball when we went there. For a while, we had a little tradition going on, and we would go there every year while he and Day were out for Christmas break. I started doing this while they were about 8 and 9. Here are some of the pictures we took while there.
People have told me that the best Chinese food in the L. A. area is in the San Gabriel Valley; I haven’t eaten there yet. But the Sam Woo restaurant in China town would be very hard to top if you’re looking for good Chinese food in L. A. I have eaten there and the food is good. It is sometimes crowded, but service is quick. Sam Woo’s is not a fancy place but the food is excellent, very authentic, and it adds to your overall Chinatown experience. I have visited the far east, and this place makes me feel like I’m close to China even if I’m not actually there.
China town is also a great place to find a special one of a kind gift. The prices are also splendid and don’t be afraid to haggle about the price. I once paid $75.00 for a beautiful statue of nine horses running uphill and saw the same statue in downtown Kansas City selling for $300.00. If you are from out-of-town and looking for gifts and souvenirs to take back home, don’t forget to come to Chinatown. It’s an excellent place to shop, and you can find some real bargains.
There are plenty of parking lots nearby, and there is also parking on the street. I never park on the street when I go there. But If you do use the street parking, be sure to feed the parking meter promptly, Los Angeles Parking Enforcement is very good at their job, and they don’t take breaks.
When I go there, I enter through the Chinatown Dragon Gate on Broadway at Broadway and Cesar Chavez, if your driving set your GPS for 943 N Broadway 90012. I park at one of the parking lots just north of the Dragon Gate on Broadway at Cesar Chavez. After I park we walk north on Broadway, towards the Chinatown Central Plaza at 943 N. Broadway. Along the way there are many shops, jewelry stores, roasted ducks hanging windows and people selling everything from pet turtles to Obama refrigerator magnets. Expert tip, don’t buy any turtles.
If you have ever been to the huge Chinatown in San Francisco, you will find that this one is much smaller and doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle as Chinatown, San Francisco. Chinatown L. A. is still a splendid destination and the kids, and I always enjoy going there. Lastly the Central Plaza with its wishing well, is a fabulous place to shop and have fun. So if you’re looking for a good pair of nunchucks, (you can even find rubber ones here for Bruce Lee wannabees) or just want to relax and experience another culture, don’t miss Chinatown L. A. You will be glad you came.