The greeting Gung hay fat choy (best wishes, congratulations, prosperity) will be heard throughout Los Angeles' Chinatown this weekend as Chinese continue to ring in 4685, the Year of the Hare, with traditional New Year's celebrations--lion dances, firecrackers and, today, the annual Golden Lion Parade.
A visit to Chinatown during this time is a good way to get acquainted with one of Los Angeles' most rapidly growing communities. It's also an opportunity to savor the exotic ambiance of the Orient without leaving the state.
Shops and Malls
Along North Broadway and Hill Street glitzy malls and shopping centers stand beside markets selling live fish and poultry, herb shops and Chinese bookstores. A few blocks to the east along North Spring and New High Street many small shops cater to local Chinese.
Along the 600 block of North Spring, in several small restaurants dating from the 1930s, chefs demonstrate their culinary skills in the window. Look into the fish market and an old-fashioned herb shop on the east side of the street. If Chinese food is not your cup of tea, you can dine on French cuisine at the Savoy, a high-tech restaurant at 700 N. Spring. Little Joes' Italian restaurant on North Broadway recalls the large Italian population that used to live in this neighborhood.
The Golden Dragon Parade begins today on North Spring Street, between Alpine and College streets, at 4 p.m. Heading south, the parade will turn on Sunset Boulevard for several short blocks, then wend its way north on North Broadway, Chinatown's main street. The parade ends at Bernard Street.
Plan to arrive early to stroll along bustling North Broadway. The exotic architecture here is reminiscent of China. At 744 N. Broadway, the Wong Family Benevolent Assn. offers sociability and assistance to members of the Wong family, the most common Chinese surname in Los Angeles.
The windows of the New China Emporium at 727 N. Broadway are decorated for the New Year with elaborate lion's head masks, mock firecrackers and oranges whose color symbolizes good luck. Active volunteer Dolores Wong suggests a visit to Ten Ren Tea Shop at the west end of this shopping complex.
Further along the street at 913 N. Broadway, notice the three-part tile mural--said to be the largest outside of China--on the facade of the Golden Palace Restaurant.
Also in the 900 block on the west side of the street, ornate gates open to new Chinatown, the area most often frequented by tourists. A statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, founder of the Republic of China, faces the gate. On the right, opposite a small Chinese style garden, two foo dogs guard the entrance to the United Bank.
Today and Sunday, demonstrations of traditional dances, martial arts and music representing the Pacific-Asian cultures will take the stage here and across the street at the Mandarin Plaza. (Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
(Parking is available in Chinatown lots, in lots along Sunset Boulevard, or in the Union Station-Olvera Street area.)