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5 Must Visit Chinatowns in the USA
By Juwai, 20 January 2022
1. Los Angeles, California
Though small in area, the list of things to do in L.A.'s Chinatown runs long enough to fill an afternoon; of course, you'll find the tastiest dim sum west of the San Gabriel Valley. Still, there are also grocery stores that stock those hard-to-find ingredients, under-the-radar art galleries, cultural festivals, dimly lit dive bars and a culinary scene that's abuzz. Most of the major attractions are along Hill Street and Broadway, north of Cesar Chavez Avenue—but a bustling scene has also blossomed just off an industrial stretch of Spring Street near the river, so make sure to leave plenty of time to explore all corners.
2. New York City, New York
Walkthrough the area south of Broome and east of Lafayette Streets that make up Chinatown in NYC, and it might feel like you've been transported to another continent. Mott and Grand Street are chock-full of stands selling exotic foods such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans, while Canal Street draws you in with some of the best shops for jewellery and gifts. As a significant part of NYC's food culture, you'll find excellent restaurants in Chinatown representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries.
3. Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1912 within the neighbourhood of Armor Square, Chicago's Chinatown is one of the older Chinese-American communities in the nation. Today, the area attracts visitors throughout the city for its rich culture, delicious cuisine and some of the best karaoke bars in Chicago. Take a walk through Chinatown Square Plaza, and you'll spot Peking ducks hanging in windows, fancy tea houses and shops selling imported sweets. Stroll down Wentworth Avenue to walk beneath the Chinatown Gateway and grab a treat from a few of the best bakeries in Chicago.
4. San Francisco, California
One of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the United States (it was found way back in 1848), S.F.'s Chinatown is full of culture and attractions, from arts organizations like the Chinese Cultural Center and the annual Chinese New Year festival to the famous Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and modern watering holes like China Live. It's also one of the most walkable (read: flattest) neighbourhoods in a city filled with hills. Start at the Dragon Gate, then peruse Grant Avenue, the neighbourhood's main thoroughfare, for just a taste of the varied shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants you can find here.
Honolulu's Chinatown has seen many iterations since Chinese immigrants first settled there in 1870. It's been destroyed by fire (twice!), became a red-light district in the early 20th century, and is now an arts and theatre district with historic designation. Plus, the state's proximity to Asia makes it a melting pot for all Asian cultures. Browse modern stores like Roberta Oaks, a pioneer in a neighbourhood that's now known for its trendy boutiques and famous restaurants—you're sure to find a knick-knack to take back home with you.
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