We’re talking about Chinatown today, a part of Honolulu that has really come into its own as a hotbed of the arts and innovative, modern dining. But even as these new influences continue to grow and flourish in Chinatown, it still retains is cultural character. The fresh fish, meat, and fruit and produce markets and stands are still there, and so are the people who shop at them. The herb shops continue to operate for a fairly large population of ethnic Chinese, and most new businesses in the area open their doors with a traditional Chinese lion dance. The Chinese Cultural Center remains a vital part of the community. No matter how many new, hip restaurants, nightclubs, and galleries pop up, Chinatown on Oahu will always be Chinatown.

Chinatown really has cleaned up its act over the years. It’s seamy underbelly is still there, though, and we hear about gambling raids in the area, about assaults, about drug dealing and problems with the homeless. I don’t think you can ever really eliminate all of the negatives in Chinatown, but a new generation of young entrepreneurs, restauranteurs, and artists helping to make it a family destination as well as a hub of nightlife and live music.

So if you’re on Oahu, make a visit to Chinatown. Support the businesses that have transformed what was once Honolulu’s “skid row” into a vital center for dining and the arts.

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