Far Away in Asia, While Minutes Away From Home!
If you are craving dim sum, Peking duck, bubble tea with tapioca balls, a fresh fruit smoothie or just some good Asian cuisine then hit the South Side intersection of Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road. This area is definitely where you would want to travel to. From here if you do not have a specific place in mind, it’s perfectly okay to allow your eyes to guide you because you can’t really go wrong.
2237 S. Wentworth Avenue was once the home of Won Kow Restaurant, Chinatown’s oldest restaurant, which recently closed after 90 year of being in businesss. Rumor has it that Al Capone had his own favorite table in a corner of the restaurant. This is an area that is quite easy for me to take for granted because it is common for me to venture here for practical items like ginseng, green tea, tiger balm, bamboo plants and different varieties of fruit flavored candy. But there is so much more that Chinatown has to offer, here is where you will experience Asian culture, authentic dishes, teahouses, and traditional architecture.
Chicago’s Chinatown was established in 1915, and is home to about 23,000 people of Chinese descent. Quick fact, Chicago is the second oldest Chinese settlement in America after many feld California because of anti-Chinese violence. The Chinese Massacre of 1871 occurred in Los Angeles, many residents were beaten, murdered and hanged. Interesting is this riot took place on Calle de Los Negros, which translates to Street of the Negros or Negro Alley.
Chicago is an international city home to dozens of ethnic neighborhoods, which makes this city very culturally rich and diverse; Chinatown is just one of many that helps shape the city’s reputation for world-class cuisine and dinning. Chicago is well recognized, having won numerous awards and accolades, nationally and internationally, as the best restaurant city.
Chinese culture is regarded as one of the world’s most ancient civilizations and one of the most dominant cultures in east Asia. Fashion for hundreds of years have long held its place in Chinese society. Traditional and nontraditional attire has been largely influenced by social class, geographics and dynasties. My obsession faves Chinese American fashion designers are Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Jimmy Choo, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang and Vivienne Tam.
In Asia culture dragons are thought to have magical powers and are scared. Chinese dragons represent success and destiny, no wonder you see dragons woven into the fabrics of parades, art and architecture. In the heart of Chinatown Square are twelve sculptures representing every animal in the Chinese zodiac calendar which unlike the Greek zodiac, your sign is determined by your birth year not month. Can you guess what animal I am?
Also situated in Chinatown is a calm and picturesque area along the south branch of the Chicago River. This is where you may find me, I enjoy packing a picnic basket and heading here for lunch with my favorite person. This area is Ping Tom Park and includes a Chinese shelter with benches facing the river, a playground, and a field house with a swimming pool, gymnasium and a rooftop garden terrace.
You may have noticed that I did not provide recommendations, that is because Chicago is a friendly city and the entire city is fully utilized by locals and visitors. So when you are in the area, just ask any passerby, what they would suggest for the best experience in delicacies and traditions foods, treats, novelties or culture. Most likely, you will be steered in the absolute right direction. It is a cool Chicago thang! What would be a disaster is for you to find yourself lucky enough to be in town and not engaged yourself in conversation with the people that call it home forever or home for a moment.
There are walking tours, food tours, a Chinese American museum, a sightseeing tour bus and a water taxi as good options for exploring Chinatown. But, if after visiting Chinatown you find yourself hungry but not in the mood for Chinese food, no worries because just a bit west and not too far away is Pilsen, a Latin neighborhood with lots of great Mexican food and Hispanic murals, or also nearby by, Little Italy and Greektown.
Peace, Love & Happiness,