Monday, January 28, 2008

Chinatowns of the World - Authentic Chinese Meals

China has a long and rich history of exploration and migration around the world. In fact, according to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, at the end of 1999, there were 34,505,000 Chinese people living in countries around the world.

The word "Chinatown" in Chinese means "The Street of the Tang People", with Tang referring to the Tang Dynasty, a period of Chinese history regarded by many people as the pinnacle in the Chinese civilization.

For many Chinese people, the original Chinatowns around the world were not started out of choice, but because of racial segregation, and oppression. In other places, they were created to bring a sense of home and community to strangers in a new land.

Whatever their origins, you can find a Chinatown in almost every major city in the world. They vary in size -- from a couple of streets to large, thriving cities within a city.

Visit any Chinatown in the world and you'll be treated to a banquet for your senses -- vibrant, shimmering silks that are sensuously soft against your skin, exotic spices and culinary delights to tempt your astounds along with a kaleidoscope of sounds, fireworks and music. Wander along the crowded streets and you'll find large pagoda-style arches, paper lanterns, Chinese dragons, beautiful temples and commerce taking place at a dizzying pace.

Here is a list of some of the best Chinatowns in the world:

San Francisco, California: The largest Chinatown on the West Coast, Chinatown is one of San Francisco's biggest tourist attractions. It is world-renowned for its exotic ambience. The history of this Chinatown dates back to the gold rush days of the mid 1800s. Although they were not allowed in the mines, Chinese immigrants built laundries and restaurants to serve the growing city. Today the area is about eight blocks long, and the best time to visit is usually mid-day. Don't miss the small exotic shops that you'll find on the narrow streets, to look for the best bargains.

New York City, New York: Found in lower Manhattan, Chinatown in New York takes up two square miles. It is the largest Chinatown in the U.S. Founded by Chinese sailors and traders in the mid 18th century; the population was small and transient. It wasn't until the Californian Gold Rush that large numbers of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. After racial tension created problems in the West, immigrants moved back east for safety and employment. Today its overcrowded and narrow streets are both a tourist attraction and home to the largest population of Chinese New Yorkers. You'll find restaurants, open air markets and shops selling everything from silks to herbal products to high fashion.

Singapore: In a city already predominated by Chinese people, an area named "Chinatown" may seem rather redundant. But Chinatown here is one of the most active and vibrant in the entire world. Here you'll enjoy a feast for your palette as well as your eyes. Enjoy exotic dining, brightly painted buildings, nightly cultural activities and shopping.

Melbourne, Australia: Chinatown Melbourne also dates back to a mid-19th century gold rush. It combines the best of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean cultures in a busy, bustling environment full of history. The best time to visit Chinatown Melbourne is at night, when the decorative streetlights are ablaze, lanterns are lit in restaurant windows, and wind chimes and neon lights are dazzling. Your biggest problem will be deciding where to go first!

Toronto, Canada: Sam Ching's Chinese laundry, downtown, launched the oldest of the six Chinatowns in the metro area of Toronto. Begun in the 1870's, Chinatown Toronto is famous for over 500 Chinese restaurants, glazed porcelain tea sets, jade necklaces, pearls, and the latest in electronic gadgets. If you watch closely, you'll even see abacuses being used to figure totals and change.

Chinese festivals are celebrated in every Chinatown, and if you happen to find yourself in one of the world's Chinatowns during one, you can consider yourself lucky. Celebrations include lion dances, fireworks, parades, music and laughter. You'll enjoy seeing the true spirit of the Chinese people as they come together to celebrate and honor their history and culture.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

You should definitely mention the Chinatown in London. It is great. Great food and entertainment!