Neighborhood Watch: Chinatown

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I've been looking for an excuse to make a shopping guide to Chinatown, and the fact that this weekend is Chinese New Year seems like a good one. The parade is tomorrow at 2, and if it's anything like the other Chinese New Year celebrations I've been to, I'd very much recommend it. There's more reason to go besides the day-glo costumes and big paper dragons, however - like I've mentioned before, there's a lot of great shopping to in the area:

1. New High (M)art: I know I go on and on about this place, but with good reason - it's definitely one of the most inspiring shops in LA that I've found so far. It's a good place to start a tour of Chinatown, especially because there's a huge $3 parking lot across the street that's usually empty. Their current exhibition is probably their best yet - it's devoted to jewelry designers Alex & Chloe, and has been decorated to look like a sort of enchanted forest to tell their story.
New High (M)art, 741 New High Street, www.newhighmart.com

2. From here, I normally like to walk up Broadway to BJ Market. Not gonna lie, you probably won't find anything spectacular here, but it's a great place to visit for atmosphere if nothing else. Lots of stalls with dollar-store kitchenware, satin kimonos and bent sunglasses are lightened up with the sounds of Chinese soft-rock tunes from the late '80s - if you ignore all of the Texan tourists milling about, you sort of feel like you might actually be on another continent.
BJ Market, 711 N. Broadway

3. Continue walking up Broadway until you reach Ooga Booga. This hybrid boutique / gallery is a popular spot for underground magazine launches and gigs, and has recently been making the art fair rounds from Santa Monica to Miami. Along with their roster of exhibitions (currently showing is sculptor Sarah Clendening), the shop also sells a huge selection of art books & zines, original work from emerging artists, CDs & mix tapes, and clothing from Bless and Opening Ceremony, among others.
Ooga Booga, 943 N. Broadway #203, www.oogaboogastore.com

4. In the same building is a new shop that I haven't actually been to yet, but sounds like is worth checking out. It's called Flock, and according to the Chinatown website, it carries "Unique and handcrafted gifts, housewares, clothes and jewlery from artisans around the US and the world." Anyone who stops by, please do post a comment & tell us about it!
Flock Shop, 943 N. Broadway #103, www.flockshopla.com

5. Just across the road in a little alley called Jung Jing is yet another bastion of the art school set, Welcome Hunters. This is yet another of my favorite shops in the city, as it stocks lots of my favorite Euro labels like London's Kokon to Zai and Sweden's Jenny Hellstrom. Again, you'll find a monthly exhibition complete with launch party, along with DJ nights at Mountain Bar in collaboration with Lion's Den (see below).
Welcome Hunters, 454b Jung Jing Road, www.welcomehuntersla.com

6. Walk around the plaza to Gin Lin Way, where you'll find Realm - a housewares store with a distinctly modern Asian twist. This is the place to come if you're looking for a great teapot, as they have hundreds, along with those cool square plates and a few slightly incongruous candleholders that look as though they're made from wood.
Realm, 425 Gin Ling Way, www.realmhome.com

7. Next door to Realm is Munky King - basically the first 'adult toy' shop in California. No, we're not talking about THAT kind of toy, but of collectible figurines, some of which are designed by quite famous artists and most of which are limited edition. There will be a DJ spinning throughout the day tomorrow, so is worth stopping by for that even if you're not into the toy thing.
Munky King, 441 Gin Ling Way, www.munkyking.com

8. Over and up North Hill street is Super Home Mart, a must-visit for anyone who likes herbal tea or Pier One. For the tea drinkers, there are economy-sized boxes of every version of green tea imaginable, including my beloved jasmine-infused variety; for Pier One shoppers, the same ethnic-inspired furnishings at about a quarter of the price. A warning: it's easy to lose a few hours browsing around this massive space, so plan accordingly.
Super Home Mart, 988 N. Hill Street

9. The biggest concentration of galleries in the neighborhood is on Chung King Road, a little side street off of North Hill. You'll find everything from the big players, like Peres Projects and Mary Goldman, to more experimental upstarts like Telic Exchange and Fringe Exhibitions. Definitely worth a little browse, as this street is a great cross-section of the LA art scene.

10. On your way back down North Hill, stop into Flux, a gallery devoted to contemporary ceramics and pottery. Is a good place to pick up a vase for the flowers you'll find at the Farmer's Market, further down the road.
Flux, 943 N. Hill Street, www.fluxgalleryla.com
Farmer's Market, 727 N. Hill Street

11. Finally, cut across Ord street and back up New High until you reach Lion's Den. Fulfilling every trendy neighborhood's need for a streetwear shop, this one is full of colorblocked New Balances, Penfield flannels and Foreign Family tees.
Lion's Den, 711 New High Street, www.lionsden.la

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