Miami needs a Chinatown


We like to talk of Miami as a world-class city. Is it? It has skyscrapers, a large and diverse population, a lively restaurant scene and a burgeoning cultural life. But it lacks one thing that other world-class cities have, a Chinatown.

A lack is curious because Miami has all the ingredients needed for a thriving Chinatown. It is a huge tourist city. It already has scores of well-established Chinese restaurants, but they are scattered throughout the city. Many of the fresh ingredients Chinese cooking requires are grown here. And Miami’s population includes many people of Chinese heritage from the Caribbean, notably Cuba, who once ran restaurants in their former countries.

I realize that most, not all, Chinatowns in major cities have grown organically. But with the right degree of cooperation, and some help from the city and county, building a Miami Chinatown from scratch is feasible.

Where to put it? It could be in Miami Beach, a revitalized downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, South Miami. Presumably it would not be fair to build it around an established restaurant. But it does need a part of a city that would set aside several blocks for development, close to parking. To proclaim itself as a Chinatown it would likely have to have some sort of welcoming arch. (although not too hokey).

All it needs is for Chinese restaurateurs to put aside their competitive woks for a conference on how, where and when to cooperate. I am already salivating

Ian M. Ball, Coconut Grove

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