The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Chinatown (#atozchallenge)





English: Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City 2...
Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City 2009 on Pell Street, looking west towards Bayard and Mott. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chinatown

       The generic term "Chinatown" has been applied to areas of Asian influence throughout the world beginning in the early 19th century.   Many cities in the United States have a district known as Chinatown--some of the most famous being those in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and, of course, Manhattan.   In fact the metropolitan area of New York City has at least a dozen communities with large Chinese populations and Manhattan's Chinatown is home to the largest concentration of Chinese peoples in the Western Hemisphere.

       Originally the Chinatown areas were transitional points for new Chinese immigrants or those of Chinese descent who were fleeing persecution in other parts of the country.  Manhattan's Chinatown began developing in the 1850's in Lower Manhattan in the area of the Bowery and along the thoroughfare of Broadway.

        With the arrival of the new Chinese immigrants came Chinese businesses and inexpensive tenement housing to house the newcomers.  Chinatown became a city within a city with Chinese dialects spoken by the people and business signs written in the language Chinese characters.  The exotic nature of that part of town made it a natural draw for tourists and curiosity seekers.

         For many decades two of the main industries of Chinatown have been tourism and restaurants.  Bus tours typically include a stop in Chinatown.  Tourists flock to the shops and eateries to get a sense of what visiting China might be like.   There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Chinatown--over 300--and they offer a range of the many culinary styles of China and other parts of Asia.  If you're looking for Chinese food then Chinatown is a go to place for what you're craving.  Then after you've eaten you can hang around visiting the many shops until you're ready for the next restaurant stop.  It's often said that shortly after eating Chinese food you're hungry again and in Chinatown there's no need to go hungry for Chinese food for very long.

         Just ask Mee Magnum, blogger from The Chinese Quest.  When I posed the question about Manhattan in my January blog post, Mee commented, "Manhattan to me is home sweet home. Born and raised in the great City. Like no other place in the world. And home, of course, to some of the best Chinese restaurants on the planet! :)"   Mee's not doing the Challenge this year, but last year he offered a great series about Chinese restaurants in the NYC area.   If you want to know more about great Chinese restaurants and other knowledge about Chinese food Mee's blog is for you.  I regularly read it and dream about places I'd like to eat one day. 

  The Question of the Month

             The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants. 

            



       Michael has made it easy on all of us who are participating in the April A to Z Challenge.  Here is this month's question:

  What's your favorite thing that begins with the letter "C"?

        After all this talk about Chinatown, my first answer would be Chinese food.  I've liked almost all Chinese food that I've eaten though I don't eat it very much anymore since my wife is not much of a fan of the cuisine.   But given the chance I'll gladly go to a Chinese restaurant when the offer comes my way.

         Thinking about the letter "C" though I can't forget chocolate.   I love chocolate in all incarnations whether it be for eating or drinking.  Oh, and thinking about drinking I should add coffee.

           Reading my initial answer you'd think life was all about food.  There are, after all, other things in life.  As a blogger (or not) I do like my computer a great deal.   For comfort sake I'd have to add chairs.  Could we get by without chairs?   Or my car for that matter?  These days, especially where I live in Los Angeles, a car is almost a necessity though I do know a few people who get around without driving.  Personally though I'm hooked on cars even though I officially drive a van--it's still essentially a car.

           These favorites questions are always tough.  How do I pick just one of everything I mentioned here not to mention the things I didn't mention?   My favorite "C"?   I guess it depends on how hungry I am or what I have to do.   My favorites in anything always seem to be changing.

           Do you have a Chinatown near where you live?  Have you ever visited a Chinatown anywhere?  What is your favorite Chinese dish?


     







89 comments:

  1. Honolulu has a relatively large Chinatown with good open markets, art entertainment and holiday celebrations. It's one of the oldest Chinatowns in the US and it burned down when they were trying to control bubonic plague in 1900. All cleaned up now.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    C is for Chili Wisconsin-Style (and Characters taking over)

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    1. Gail, Honolulu is closer to China so it would make sense that they would have an older Chinatown.

      Lee

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  2. Never been, favorite... candy and Mongolian Chicken... and of course the score to Chinatown was great too...

    Welcome in the letter "C"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free "SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE" Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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    1. Jeremy, ooo, candy! My big weakness.

      Lee

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  3. It is always fun to visit a Chinatown, and I agree, picking favorites is tough!

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    1. Kimberly, I'm due for another visit to a Chinatown somewhere.

      Lee

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  4. I've never been there either. I do enjoy good Chinese food and bet it's some of the best.

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    1. Alex, you would think Chinatown has the best Chinese food, but I've heard that in L.A. at least the best is found in an outlying region--kind of the new Chinatown I suppose.

      Lee

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  5. I've visited Chinatown in San Francisco. A wonderful place. I like sweet and sour pork or chicken a lot!

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    1. Pop tart, I stayed around the corner from SF's Chinatown, but didn't eat there because my wife isn't thrilled with the cuisine.

      Lee

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  6. Interesting post, Arlee. The only Chinatown I've visited is the one in London. Far too crowded for my liking (bah humbug). Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

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    1. Nicola, my knowledge would be limited if not for Google and other online resources.

      Lee

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    2. Used to eat in London's Chinatown a lot when I lived in the capital. Some great restaurants - favourite was the New Loon Fung - http://www.chinatownlondon.org/restaurant/new-loon-fung/7/116/186

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  7. Awesome. There are no Chinatowns in Kenya but i would love to visit one! I do take Chinese Green Tea though :)

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    1. Akhy, maybe Chinatown will be coming to Kenya one day as your country has more commerce with China.

      Lee

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  8. I love the Chinatown area of Manhattan and we've been there many times. We always enjoyed Chinatown in London, one of our favorite places to eat in the city.

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    1. Joyce, I've never been to London, but I have heard that great Chinese food is to be had there.

      Lee

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  9. I love Chicago's Chinatown. Great places to shop and eat.

    Favorite C word??? Hmm. Let's go with my sweet home Chicago!


    --
    Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
    2015 A to Z of Adventure!
    http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/

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    1. Tim, Chicago is a logical choice for you. I've been to Chinatown there and bought wholesale cartons of Fortune and almond cookies that lasted for months until I got sick of them and threw the rest away.

      Lee

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  10. I'm not a big fan of Chinese food either, probably because I haven't tried enough dishes. I love Thai food though. My favorite C word would be cat. In fact, I have a big one purring in my lap right now.

    http://www.tamaranarayan.com

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    1. Tamara, if you like Thai food I'm sure there are many types of Chinese food that you would enjoy as well.

      Lee

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  11. We get a modified version of Chinese food that blends with the taste of our land. As for the favorite "C' word... hmmm... I am blank...

    @w0rds4u from As Time Flies


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    1. Ira, ethnic foods adapt to regions I think. I believe that's how Chop Suey came about.

      Lee

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  12. Chinese food, Chocolate, and cars? (I drive a van too)

    I'd love to visit Chinatown in NYC.

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    1. Dixie, I've had vans all of my car ownership life. Love them!

      Lee

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  13. There is no Chinatown around where I live. However there are plenty of options for Chinese food. What we get in India is actually a fusion, we call it Indo-Chinese and is made using a bit of Indian spices and influences here and there.
    @bhawnasaini_yml from Yellow Mellow Life

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    1. Bhawna, fusion can be very good. We have a lot of that in Los Angeles where I live.

      Lee

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  14. I LOVED LOVED LOVED my visit to Chinatown in NYC! It was another world with so many cultural influences attacking all my senses. The food was absolutely divine and I'd go back in a heartbeat.
    I too love Chinese food. I truly think I could eat it every day and not get sick of it. And i mean that. There's so much variety. My favorite: hard to pick but I like a good combination LoMein, Beef with Broccoli, Kung Po Shrimp...oh geez, I could go on and on...
    Now I'm hungry Lee!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I'm going to eat real soon now, but I'm pretty sure it won't be Chinese food. You're right about the vast variety, a fact that I wish my wife would understand better. I love the spicy Chinese dishes.

      Lee

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  15. Love Chinatown in NYC, went there often when I lived there. C is also for Canal street which runs through Chinatown. Once in San Francisco I went to a restaurant in their Chinatown and asked for Egg Foo Young...they never heard of it. Say what?

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    1. Em, we missed Chinatown on our most recent visit, but nobody wanted Chinese food and our time was so limited. Oddly, Egg Foo Young seems really difficult to find these days. Recently at a Vegas breakfast buffet they had a number of Chinese selections and among them was Egg Foo Young. I was thrilled and ate plenty, though I still couldn't get my wife to try it and I'm pretty sure it would be a dish that she would like.

      Lee

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  16. Chinatown London England I visited in the 60s
    Http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com
    @CazsBooks

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    1. Caz, I'll bet that Chinatown in London has changed a bit since you were last there!

      Lee

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  17. I've been in NYC only for a few hours a couple of years ago, and I didn't have the chance to visit Chinatown. But We passed by it and it was so alluring :-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

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    1. Sarah, it's so bad when time is limited in NYC. So much to see and do and you have to have enough time to get it all in.

      Lee

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  18. My hometown Kolkata has the oldest Chinatown in India, and about half the Indo-Chinese population. The expat Chinese live more in Delhi and Bombay, and Bombay has a traditional Chinatown as well of Chinese who migrated in 17/18th century. The cuisine is very popular and has been adapted to suit local palates.

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    1. Nilanjana, I'll bet that particular Chinatown where you are from is very interesting and has some exciting food adventures..

      Lee

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  19. Last year, David and I were waiting to pick up our adult kids from a convention in Houston (TX). While waiting, we decided to see where the road outside the hotel would take us. We ended up in Houston's version of Chinatown. Even the street signs were in Chinese. It definitely made the adventure more interesting.

    Can a fortune cookie count as a "dish"? haha That is my favorite part of a Chinese meal!

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    1. Suzanne, ironically I am in Houston as I write this since it's where one of my daughters lives. I think I've been to that part of town that you mention, but I'm not sure. I'll have to ask.

      I would question whether fortune cookies even come from China or that they might be an American invention.

      Lee

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    2. I hope that you enjoy the time with your daughter. I hope that our area continues to have pretty weather for the remainder of your visit. :)

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  20. Wonderful insight on a place I have never visited. My favourite thing beginning with "C" is CONCERTS.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I too like concerts though I haven't been to one in quite a while.

      Lee

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  21. I visited Chinatown many times while living in NYC. I remember two things rather vividly about the restaurant experience(s). One was I was surprised by the meat hanging in the windows (as advertisement). I think many people, myself included, don't actually see that as a reason to EAT there. Kinda like ewww.

    The second was the first time I actually ate in a "real" Chinese restaurant. The tables were large and round, which meant you ended up eating with strangers. I think we had two or three in our party, and the table sat 8 or 10 (and the place was full). It was very strange to me then. Not so much now. But, it made an impact on me.

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    1. Robin, I've seen some of those restaurants with the hanging meat, particularly the ducks which I guess is a lure for Peking Duck, a dish which I've yet to try.

      Lee

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  22. I always visit Chinatown when I go to New York, which unfortunately is not very often. In law school I visited NY often, but since moving home, back down south I don't get to NY nearly as often as I would like. How great that the question of the month was to name things you like that begin with the letter C. The only other Chinatown I know of is in San Francisco. I'm sure many big cities have something similar to Manhattan's Chinatown, I just don't know about it. I'm loving the challenge, as always. Thanks again!

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    1. Melissa, I've been to several Chinatown districts around the country. The one in Los Angeles is pretty good though now the best Chinese food is found in an outlying area where the Chinese have been moving in recent decades. Here Chinatown is mostly a place of tourism for nostalgia's sake.

      Lee

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  23. China town sounds like an interesting place. I have an interesting trivia about Chinese Food. Did you know that in China it's simply called food?
    I'm actually studying an Asian language, but it's far from Chinese.

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    1. Jeffrey, I wonder if the Chinese have a similar fixation with American food--I mean aside from McDonald's, KFC, and other fast foods?

      Lee

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  24. I've been to a few Chinatowns...San Francisco of course. Boston, Portland, OR and Victoria BC. I love Chinese food but they put oyster sauce in everything and I have a shellfish allergy. Fave word that begins with C is: CRAFTS!!

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    1. JoJo, I've never investigated what oyster sauce is made of. I like oysters. I can see "crafts" being your favorite.

      Lee

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  25. In my teens a small Chinese restaurant named Orchid Gardens opened. It's upstairs a mall that was a short walk from my high school's back gate. It's still there today and ran by Chinese. I find it very interesting how the Chinese come to our country and make good on the opportunities. All my days and I have never seen one homeless Asian in Jamaica. Makes me wonder but in a good way. China and Japan are among countries I would like to visit one day.

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    1. Sheena-kay, I guess Chinese restaurants can be found everywhere in the world. Just about I'd say.

      Lee

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  26. I have always loved the Chinatowns in my home city of Liverpool in the UK and in London. The food, decorations, clothes and culture - all so lovely.

    A-Z Challenge no. 1336

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    1. AJ, there is always such a festive and exotic atmosphere in the Chinatowns.

      Lee

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  27. Love Chinese food myself. My brother lives in a small town in the middle of Nebraska...and he has a great Chinese food restaurant there! We were both shocked that it is that good since we grew up in NY and know good Chinese when we get it!
    My favorite C...chocolate! Of course!
    ~Katie
    TheCyborgMom

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    1. C-Mom, in my travels I've found very good Chinese restaurants in all sorts of locales while some in big cities that I thought would be very good were not. Sometimes you just can't tell.

      Lee

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  28. There was a small store on a backstreet of a quiet neighborhood. The Chinese owners lived above the store and sold everything from freshly baked bread to laundry soap. They also kept a good stock of saladitos stuck in lemons and my friends and I were daily customers:-)

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    1. Diedre, what a cool place that sounds to be.

      Lee

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  29. I grew up on Staten Island and never made it to Chinatown in my 19 years living in NYC. There is no Chinatown in Kansas City. We do have a Chinatown Food Market just a few blocks from our loft in the downtown area. That said, there is a good sized Vietnamese neighborhood close by. Intersting to think about such things. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. KC Bob, surprising that you never made it to the NYC Chinatown. I do like Vietnamese food a lot. I guess you have some good restaurants of this nature where you are. In fact I seem to recall having eaten in a very good Vietnamese restaurant in KC many years ago.

      Lee

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    1. CW, if I'm in the mood a cheeseburger certainly hits the spot that satisfies.

      Lee

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  31. Only Chinatown I ever visited was in San Francisco. Would have loved to spend more time there. I adore a good Hot and Sour Soup.

    JO ON FOOD, LIFE AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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    1. Jo, I too like hot and sour soup. Was craving it a while back but apparently it was out of season at the place near my house. The Chinatown in SF is one of the most famous.

      Lee

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  32. I have been to the San Francisco one.

    I like the Mongolian beef / broccoli.

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    1. E-man, I often get Mongolian beef at the Thai restaurant I frequent. I order it spicy and it's great.

      Lee

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  33. I've been to Chinatown in Chicago and San Francisco. SF's is fantastic, and Chicago's feels like home. I really like Chinese food, and have lots of favorites: chinpi beef (beef with tangerine peel), kung pao chicken, egg fu yung (just about any flavor, but especially pork), cashew chicken...

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    1. John, Kung Pao Chicken is my standard fare to order in a Chinese restaurant if it's a new place. If it's a restaurant that I've eaten in before I might experiment some. Unfortunately it's rare these days when I go to a Chinese restaurant unless my wife is in an especially accommodating mood and wants me to have what I'd like.

      Lee

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  34. Growing up in San Francisco, I have been through Chinatown with my parents. They have very cheap produce there. I don't know if I have one favorite Chinese dish but speaking in generalities, I do enjoy having dim sum and Chinese pastries.

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    1. Cynthia, I've only had dim sum once that I remember. So, so many years ago.

      Lee

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  35. I haven't been to Chinatown in years. Your post makes me want to re-visit!

    Yvonne

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    1. Yvonne, come to think of it I'd kind of like to visit Chinatown as well.

      Lee

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  36. Hi, Lee,

    Well, being born and raised in NYC, Chinatown was certainly a part of my life. But years back It was a much smaller section. Little Italy used to be much larger, but as the Italians moved out, the Chinese moved it. Now it is huge... Great restaurants and stores. But as you said it has gotten quite touristy...

    I live in Chicago now and the Chinatown here is very interesting. There is actually a HUGE Oriental archway upon entering the area. Very cool. A fraction of the size of NYC and probably San Francisco, it is a charming place to spend an evening of delicious food without the crowds...

    I don't eat Chinese food anymore because of the salt and MSG, but it's fun to visit there.

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    1. Michael, the Chinatown district in L.A. also has the archway--many do from what I've read, but I forget what they are called. I throw caution to the wind when it comes to eating--way too much salt and all the other bad stuff.

      Lee

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  37. Arlee,
    I enjoyed your blog today. I'm also doing the challenge and my blog today was about Chinese Food around the world; I like to call it the great culinary equalizer!
    https://zuludelta45.net/2016/04/04/chinese-food/
    I hope to follow more of your work.
    Zulu Delta

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  38. We have a China Town in Adelaide, but it;s not very big - two streets. I went to the China Town in Singapore while I was there and that's more what I would have expected.

    Glad to see you're such a big fan of C-things!

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  39. I live in Fort Worth and there isn't a China Town but there should be. And as for C's and what is my favorite thing I would have to say my children both 2 and 4 legged. And as for Chinese Food I am not much for it either but my husband loves it. And as for C foods I like Croissants.

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  40. There's no Chinatown near me, but I do love me some crab rangoon.

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  41. I use to live right on the other side of the viaduct from Chinatown in Chicago, but we've moved since then. Now there's only Chinese Restaurants around here, but good ones. I love egg drop soup and egg rolls. I like egg foo young too. yum

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  42. I've been to Chinatown in Washington quite often. Hot and Sour soup would be great right now.

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  43. I wonder how the Chinese who live in Chinatown feel about the tourists gawking at them? I began a historical fantasy set in Chinatown of San Francisco during the early 1800's with a 16 year old Mark Twain. I may get back to it one day. :-)

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  44. I do have a few favorites (Lo mien and chicken fried rice) but sadly it doesn't agree with my diabetes.

    Father Nature's Corner

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  45. I always like to visit Chinatown and to eat there. In Russian, it's "Kitai Gorod" :) All the best!

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  46. We don't have a Chinatown, per se, but we do have the Portland Japanese Garden, which is like an escape within our escape.

    I love Chocolate and Candy, too!

    Mary
    Literary Gold - Free and Bargain priced books
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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  47. Lee, we do not have a Chinatown nearby nor have I visited one, but it certainly is an interesting part of a city within a city that I would like to see. It certainly has fascinated me seeing Chinatown in movies. Rush Hour comes to mind when I think of Chinatown. Now, you make me want Chinese food, which I love, and to watch Rush Hour. Great "C" post! Thanks for hosting the fun, my friend.

    Curious as a Cathy
    All things Vintage: Cab Calloway #AprilA2Z

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  48. I went to an Asian marketplace one time, but I wouldn't consider the area a Chinatown. It was an interesting experience.

    I couldn't narrow down to one C thing either :) I would have to agree with you on coffee and anything chocolate, and computers are great too!

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  49. I've been through Boston's Chinatown, but the last time I was there, it wasn't such a nice part of town. I've always been more of a Nipponphile than a Sinophile, though I enjoy reading books set in China and learning about Chinese culture. I'm particularly interested in the foreign concessions of Shanghai and (since I have such macabre interests) footbinding.

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    1. Carrie-Anne--I like the literary/historical twist you've give this topic.

      Lee

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  50. I have major catching up to do! Between my mom, my hubby and visits it's been nuts. Toronto has a great Chinese town district. Some of the fruit is great to try but not too much into the chickens and other things that hang around. I love chocolate

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Lee