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LA's Chinatown embraces new dining scenes
Last Updated: 2016-07-28 08:57 | CRIENGLISH.com
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A picture shows the Chinatown in Los Angeles, California. [Photo: sznews.com]

A food revolution is currently underway in Los Angeles' Chinatown, with the next generation of chefs taking over the district with brand-new dishes.

CRI's Huang Shan explains how cheaper rents are proving attractive to chefs hoping to make a name for themselves, and how the trend is creating a hip new dining scene in the City of Angels.

Traditional architecture, canteen style eateries and discount stores are what the American people picture when they think of Chinatown districts across the country.

But in downtown Los Angeles, the old Chinese kitchens seem to be evolving, and are providing a fertile breeding ground for young chefs, who are serving up a world of new dishes.

These days you can just as easily pick up Nashville fried chicken in Chinatown, or maybe fresh Thai food or perhaps New Orleans sausages just next door.

Shirley Zhang, marketing manager of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, explains the reason behind this new trend.

"A lot of Chinese businesses moved out in the late 80's and late 90's and you have all these vacant store fronts that are ready to be restaurants. When people realized that, hey they don't have to do a whole renovation to open a restaurant, they can just come to Chinatown and they will be ready to open in six months, they really jumped on that opportunity and that's why we have all these young chefs with very exciting concepts, but maybe not very large bank rolls. They come to Chinatown because it is so easy for them to open up here and they have such a large interested audience."

In Chinatown, rents average four US dollars a square foot while in downtown LA or the financial district, rents can range from five to eight dollars a square foot.

With the influx of new arrival entrepreneurs, Chinatown has been developed into the city's hot new dining destination.

Johnny Zone, chef and owner of Howlin Ray, believes Chinatown's history and culture is another reason leading to the boom.

He explains why he believes his tiny restaurant is so popular in the area, with people queuing up.

"Why there's a line? Nashville hot chicken is something really beautiful. So LA didn't have Nashville hot chicken prior to us opening and we are kind of like the one Nashville hot chicken restaurant in Los Angeles at this time so it's kind of like the only place to get it."

Marcus Christiana-Beninger, chef at Little Jewel of New Orleans, says younger residents and business owners are lured to the area by the choice of spaces available.

"Downtown is filling up rapidly and for restaurants we require space. We need space for diners, We need space for our kitchen and this neighborhood is walkable, people can come down here and spend the day and not just at our restaurant but at many of the shops so it's attractive in that sense, and I think people are rediscovering an already interesting neighborhood honestly".

Those in the area say Chinatown's demographic will continue to change as more housing opens and interesting restaurants continue to sprout.

A once tired neighborhood is now being reborn as a multi-national community open for all.

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