What to Do in Chinatown

Written by

chinatown balloons

We’ve asked KCRW volunteer Taryn Olsen to share some of her favorite activities around Chinatown. KCRW will be there for two more Saturdays as part of Chinatown Summer Nights, with DJs spinning from 8 to 11pm:

“While it’s true that KCRW brings it wherever they go – Chinatown’s Central Plaza has provided an outstanding backdrop for the usual eating, drinking, and dancing festivities of KCRW’s Summer Nights Series. When the evening comes complete with a dance floor, stage, and DJ Set Up custom assembled each Saturday just for the night’s festivities…you know it’s going to be a good time.

Before coming to LA, I lived in DC as a college student where Chinese food occupied a significant part of my diet. I hadn’t been able to find a little greasy spoon to call my own in LA until fellow volunteer Shawniece Swain introduced me to Full House. We went for the Tangerine Beef and stayed for the Shrimp Fried Rice and Kung Pao Chicken. Happy tummies and lunch for Monday? Can’t beat that with a stick.

Chinatown also commissioned several food trucks to be present each Saturday for the official festivities, which has provided the excuse for me to start my addiction to paella from Papa’s Tapas, the dessert melt from The Grilled Cheese Truck (nutella, banana, and marshmallow all in between two buttery grilled slices of bread, and Lake Street Creamery’s Pancake Breakfast Ice Cream with bacon.

Microsoft Word - Dessert Melt-Polaroid.doc
On the way back to the dance floor it’s definitely worth it to take a stroll through the booths set up art fair style. Be sure to check in with Erin of Mamacita Jewelry – her adjustable necklaces/bracelets are too cute to pass up. If you want to shop for a cause you can pick up a rad looking purse (with a vintage tie for a purse handle!) from Vintage Remade – $5 of each purchase goes toward providing housing, food, and education for orphans in the rural, African village of Njewa, Malawi. There’s also a photo booth set up each week with different costumes and paraphernalia to create your own mock awkward family photo – again…really too fun to pass up.

And no shopping trip to Chinatown’s Central Plaza is complete without a thorough shopping of the funky goods in The Flock Shop. All I have to say is Sushi Plushies, convenient and colorful condom holders, and Kanye-worthy sunglasses.

With all that rich food some serious dancing is definitely called for. I have to say – this is definitely where my KCRW pride shows up. DJs Aaron Byrd and Anthony Valadez have serious skills and I’ve watched each week as people ages 4 to 94 have gotten their hips shaking to the tune of an eclectic mix of dance worthy, independently minded music tied together amid record scratches and buttery smooth transitions. I could go on and on here but I’d risk sounding like a very proud mother so I’ll leave it with the assurance that both weeks have had packed dance floors for the full 3 hour DJ Sets. 🙂

Lucky for those on the dance floor there are several after party options. And so, the party continues each week, with the likes of Mountain Bar, Grand Star, and the funky basement bar in Hop Louie experiencing an influx of happy dancers at their bars until well after last call.

It’s true. I’ve cultivated a total love for Chinatown’s Central Plaza thanks to KCRW. I guess some of it’s a matter of bang for your buck – all in one spot I get a happy tummy, a free outdoor DJ Set with unbeatable music, a chance to dance like nobody’s watching, and an after party with friends.

Can’t wait for Jeremy to tear it up on the turntables this week!”


— Taryn Olsen