Monday, April 23, 2007
Chinatown, Los Angeles
Ensconced inside the North-West corner of a triangular area where U.S. Highways 101, 110 and 5 intersect... and just down the street from the skycrapers and modern buildings of downtown LA's business and art district is CHINATOWN in Los Angeles, California. This is the same Chinatown made famous by the Roman Polanski movie starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. Also in the cast (he's in almost all Hollywood movies requiring an Asian actor) is veteran Chinese-American character-actor James Hong, who one time I spotted in a supermarket here. Located in roughly, a 50-acre piece of prime real estate, its neigboring area has experienced a building boom in recent years: Gehry's Disney Hall, the new Los Angeles Cathedral, the Museum of Contempory Art, just walking distance West, plus the countless new and renovated buildings with modern residential lofts. Even nearby Little Tokyo is nearly completely new with a new mall or two. But not Chinatown. The main hub of this enclave has remained almost the same since I came here some 30 years ago; it's a place that's frozen in time, one might say. And therein lies its beauty.
On a cold and gray Saturday morning last weekend, my wife Mitch and two friends had breakfast--which turned out to be brunch--at one of the many restaurants there: ABC restaurant, a popular dimsum place. After gulping down with gallons of tea, sweet rice cakes (puto), fishballs, shrimp & vegetable dumplings, Chinese brocolli, sesame sweet bean cake and other goodies the waitresses were carting around, I left my companions, eager to explore and take pictures. I had my trusty Lumix with me.