One of the most exciting things about the dozens of Chinatowns that dot the globe is that every single one offers something new and exciting. In Toronto you can enjoy the annual Toronto Dragon Boat Race, in Manila you can try the famous bull testicle soup, and in Melbourne you can appreciate the long history of the Chinese on the Western side of our world.
We’re going to be looking at the five absolute must-see Chinatowns the world over. The first on our list is none other than Australia’s Melbourne Chinatown.
(Image Credit: Flickr / Michael Coghlan)
If you’ve never visited Melbourne’s Chinatown, you are decidedly missing out. It has been around since the 1850s and marks the longest continuous Chinese settlement anywhere in the Western world. The most popular area of Chinatown in Melbourne is on Little Bourke Street, along with Lonsdale Street and Bourke Street. Recently, the five key arches of Chinatown were restored in what is considered a statement of Melbourne’s commitment to their community.
While visiting Chinatown, you can enjoy the Chinese Museum, which offers five levels of artefacts, including the Finding Gold Experience and Dragon Gallery. There are also many historic buildings from the 1850s to feast your eyes upon. One of the best times to enjoy Melbourne’s Chinatown is during the celebration of Chinese New Year, which has been occurring for more than 150 years now. Make sure to try some of the amazing Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese food found throughout the neighborhood.
San Francisco’s Chinatown
(Image Credit: Flickr / Michael Coghlan)
Another amazing Chinatown to walk through is located in San Francisco. It’s also the oldest Chinatown to be found in North America. This place has something for everyone. You can check out a Chinatown Alleyway Tour, visit the Chinese Cultural Center, or even take part in a Chinatown Ghost Tour. If you want to try something completely unique, visit the fortune cookie factory on Ross Alley where every cookie is freshly made. You can savor a big for under five bucks, which is a steal.
Of course, we have to mention the rest of the food as well. The number one restaurant on the lips of the locals is Z & Y Restaurant. The menu is massive with dishes like pickled vegetable fish hot pot, spicy clams, Peking roast duck, and cumin lamb. There’s also a tour called Local Tastes of the City Tour that takes you to visit a few restaurants in the area.
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The third Chinatown on our list is located in India. While some who visit feel it’s a bit run-down, it’s also often considered to be one of the most authentic neighborhoods boasting the Chinatown name. While the area used to be packed with Chinese coming from South China, there aren’t as many Indian-Chinese around today. However, you can still expect to enjoy Chinese goods stores, Taoist temples, and amazing dim sum restaurants.
As far as the food goes, it’s been said that Chinese food is the most popular in all of Kolkata so it’s no surprise that you can find some unique and tasty dishes while visiting. If you want the authentic experience of the lifetime, give Tung Fong at 25B Park Street a chance. The restaurant offers many local items like chili chicken and vegetable Manchurian.
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It is believed that Chinatown in Manila is the oldest in the world, dating back to the 1590s. One of the best ways to start your day is at Umbrella Alley, which offers you dozens of choices of noodles from street food carts. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, though, you want to visit Café Mezzanine. This is the restaurant known for serving soup with bull testicles. Other fantastic options include Dong Bei Dumpling and Sincerity Café & Restaurant.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do besides filling your stomach at Manila’s Chinatown, which is formally known as Binondo. You’ll find a ton of tours, but make sure you wore your sneakers because you will have to walk. You should also take the time to visit Binondo Church, which is known throughout the world. Make sure you watch out for traffic as you traipse through the streets, though, since it can get a little intense out there.
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Oliver Spalt)
We’ll be wrapping up our list of the top five Chinatowns with London in the last place. However, there’s plenty to do and see there so don’t think it’s a slouch. Chinatown has been around in London since the end of the 18th century and become a bastion for Chinese residents in the 1960s. Chinatown today is located right in the middle of London, near Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Covent Garden, and Leicester Square. This makes it the perfect spot to take in the various sights of the city.
The top must-visit restaurant in Chinatown in London is Joy King Lau, which serves authentic Cantonese dishes that you will love. It’s a massive restaurant with fantastic dim sum and can make you forget you’re in London in the first place. Other locations you might want to visit include Shuang Shuang, Shibuya Soho, Rasa Sayang, and the Shan State. If you have a sweet tooth, wrap up at Bubble Wrap for the unique egg waffles with ice cream and red bean sauce.
Wrapping Things Up
The Chinatown neighborhood in Melbourne is fantastic and well worth a visit for those who are Australian or not. However, there are many other unique Chinatowns to explore if you’re visiting another country. Whether you’re in India, England, the Philippines, or the United States, you’ll have a fantastic time. Each destination has a feel and heart of its own and is well-worth the trek.
Of course, there are dozens of other Chinatowns dotted across the globe which have their own style and flavor. Don’t be afraid to give them a try. Chinatown is a neighborhood that can be found anywhere, but always offers something a bit unique depending on its location. Have fun out there!