Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Over the years, I've come to associate certain things with Chinatown. These expectations have been supported by visits to Chinatown in a number of cities - Sydney, Melbourne, London, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

Some of these Chinatowns are small and quaint (hello London! hello Melbourne!). Modest in size but charming, nonetheless.

Others are massive. My weekend in San Francisco was nowhere near enough time to fully discover its Chinatown.

No matter what, they all have a lot in common. They have more than their fair share of shops which look like they belong in an episode of Hoarders (I haven't actually watched it, but it taunts me whenever I browse through the shows for instant streaming on Netflix).

The buildings are beautifully jumbled, close together, and crowd the narrow streets and laneways that are a standard for districts found within walking distance of other city attractions.

San Francisco
They are always cheerful and full of colour. Vibrant.

San Francisco
I thought these qualities were a must for Chinatowns world-wide.

Until we visited LA's very own Chinatown last weekend.

Sure, there were the Hoarder-qualifying shops. And I guess it was within walking distance of other city attractions, if you count the Dodger Stadium - which is only really accessible by car. This is Los Angeles, after all.

But jumbled buildings on narrow streets? I didn't know it was possible for Chinatown to do sprawl. On wide, can't-cross-quickly roads. The closest resemblance to bustling laneways were depressing, dark arcades which would have felt right at home in the communist era.

How about some colourful vibrance, you say?

Los Angeles
Um, not really. I didn't take any photos of the buildings, because I wasn't feeling terribly inspired by them. At all.

Happily, there were plenty of shops with all kinds of products spilling out onto the footpath. After walking past the twentieth shop selling turtles the size of your middle toe, the Faery now has a new obsession and wants one.

And of course, it wouldn't be Chinatown without seeing some kind of food product to turn your stomach (as well as drooling over the more appealing food).

Los Angeles
I'm sure that Lady Fish Paste is tasty for some, but I think I'll pass.


  1. I would totally echo your sentiments with San Francisco's Chinatown. It was fabulous and I didn't have anywhere near enough time to check it out. I love your pictures of it too.

    I didn't even realise LA had a Chinatown but of course it would. Clearly I didn't get to see it though.

    Lady Fish Paste - I'm not sure whether "Lady" is the adjective or the noun and my mind is trying to work out whether it is paste from a lady fish or fish paste just for ladies. Either option seems somehow fatally flawed when you're talking about brand appeal.

    But oh my God, the fish couple in evening attire. Gold ... just gold.

  2. You know, I only just thought to google it. My cleverness astounds me at times.

    Apparently there is a type of fish called Ladyfish. And according to a Flickr posting of this sign, the paste is just a raw or uncooked form of fish cakes/dumplings.

    Sounds a little more tasty now, but I can't get past that fish couple...

  3. Ah that would make sense and thanks for looking it up. I didn't think of that either!

    Mmmm uncooked black tie dumpling ...

  4. Lady Fish Paste? Yeah, I knew a girl like that once....


  5. With a product named that way, I'm not sure what it is they want us to think of... nothing that smells pleasant, that's for sure.