Atlanta Chinatown in Chamblee, Georgia
Chinatowns are a pinnacle of Chinese and asian culture all around the world. They represent an ethnic enclave for Chinese people that are living outside of Mainland China. In the United States alone there are just under 50 Chinatowns located in around 30 cities (usually the bigger ones). Some states such as California, New York and Washington have multiple Chinatowns, reflecting their larger Chinese population and influence.
Chinatowns are the center point for Chinese and other Asian cultures to have a sense of home and acquire many of their typical native products, which they would not be able to find in a commercial American mall or supermarket. Atlanta’s Chinatown does not only provide employment and commerce for the Chinese communities in town but also welcomes everyone and anyone who wishes to immerse in their culture and shop for exotic produce, as well as try classic Chinese and sometimes unfamiliar delicacies from the local markets and restaurants.
A brief history of Chinatown
Historically Chinatowns came into being with the purpose of designating a specific area for foreigners and immigrants, predominantly the Chinese and other Asian cultures. The creation of these immigrant-friendly spaces naturally created a sense of community among the people. In the 1980s, Atlanta’s Asian population had grown significantly and less than a decade later Atlanta’s first Chinatown opened on August 8th of 1988. It was the first of its kind in south-east America and in 1996, with an increase of new immigrants from Beijing, it was expanded even further. Today, the Atlanta metropolitan area is said to be home to an estimated 50,000 Chinese-Americans.
When compared to Chinatowns of other cities in the US, Atlanta’s own Chinatown has a mall-like resemblance and is considered more modern, similar to the ones in Las Vegas and Oakland. Whereas older versions are allocated areas on city streets, or in some cases whole neighborhoods, with noticeable oriental decorations such as the quintessential red and gold balloon-like lanterns, and shops boasting illuminated signs with Chinese characters. These are the most typical indicators that you are entering Chinatown as you start to feel the bustle of restaurants, shops and market vendors. These classic concepts of Chinatowns can be visited in New York City (where Chinatown came into being in the 1870s) and Chicago’s Chinatown (since the late 1890s) to name a few cities.
Atlanta Chinatown Mall
Atlanta’s Chinatown mall has a pair of remarkable lions that grace the entrance of this characteristically Chinese complex. The larger areas of the mall house a big restaurant, food court and a supermarket. There are many smaller shops scattered between the first and second floor, among which a wide-ranging variety of products can be found. Everything from books, beauty products, gift shops and tea houses to legal and translation services and Feng Shui consultancy services are sold here.
Another common aspect of Chinese culture that is not missing from this center of Chinese commerce is a garden. Beautifully decorated with typical Chinese symbolism, such as a short picturesque red bridge over a small koi pond, it is instantly recognisable. You will also find sculptures of bodhisattvas and a wall mural depicting the Great Wall of China. In this area it is common for friends to socialize and drink tea or even play Chinese chess at the round cement tables that are placed around the garden.
Some of Atlanta’s most authentic Chinese food can be had at the restaurants and food court. A variety of specialty items can be found at different counters. The most popular options you can sample are the pork soup dumplings, beef noodle soup, peking duck, tea eggs, classic Chinese stir frys and barbeques. While there is an indoor eating area, meals can also be enjoyed at the exterior courtyard.
As many of us are aware, the Chinese New Year is the most important event in the social calendar for Chinese populations around the world. For this occasion Atlanta Chinatown mall hosts celebrations for its local Chinese community. There is an on-site red carpeted stage used for typical Chinese theatrics to provide entertainment for visitors on this yearly occasion. During this event, food is an essential element and Atlanta Chinatown does not fall short in what it has to offer.. Visitors enjoy the most common Chinese delicacies such as dumplings, noodles, steamed fish dishes and succulent roast duck. The facility is in fact one of the most popular places for ethnic Chinese and Chinese-Americans alike to celebrate their New Year, and commonly travel from other counties around Georgia to gather here.
Chinatowns around the World
The concept of Chinatown has become something so worldly that today there are 19 countries that possess a native Chinese community of commerce of their own. Asia, Europe, Australia and America have 35 official Chinatowns between them, with 16 located in Asia, 12 in Europe, 6 in America and 1 in Australia. Some of the best and most exciting Chinatowns are considered to be in New York, US; San Francisco, US; Melbourne, Australia; London, England; Lima, Peru and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Before you go, we do have something to disclose. Atlanta’s Chinatown is not actually located in Atlanta per se. It’s location is in Chamblee, a city in DeKalb County, Georgia, which lies northeast of Atlanta, but it is considered a suburb of Atlanta. Next time you find yourself in the area, don’t miss your chance to visit the Atlanta Chinatown mall – the perfect place to try your favorite ethnic foods, shop for some interesting products for your pantry, indulge in some tea while enjoying the lovely Chinese garden and take in some Chinese culture. You will find nothing but friendly smiling vendors willing to assist you, making it an all the more pleasant experience.
If you are visiting Atlanta and are interested in visiting Atlanta Chinatown as well as other attractions, sign up for one of our customizable tours from Roundabout Atlanta and we’ll make the arrangements for you.
Chinatown Mall, 5383 New Peachtree Road, Suite C, Chamblee, GA 30341, US
Monday – Friday, 10am – 9pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 9:30pm