Saigon Plaza, Dynasty Center, and Chinatown Plaza are newer shopping areas that feature swap meet-like booths and shops selling imported clothes, toys, accessories, and CDs/DVDs. About 90 percent of the merchants here are Chinese refugees from Vietnam who set up shop in the 1980s and revitalized this part of Chinatown.
My rule of thumb for bargaining, whether here or abroad, is that if I'm willing to pay the merchant's initial offer, then I start bargaining for a lower price. Even if the final negotiated price is only a dollar or two cheaper, I leave happy because the initial price was something I was willing to pay anyway.
On weekends there's always a crowd of people in front of China Town Deli. Why?
The freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. They also sell pineapples and mangoes with chili peppers and salt, fried yams and bananas, and other assorted Vietnamese to-go goodies like Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls), Banh Mi Thit Heo Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sandwich), and Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad Rolls).
The Chinatown train stop.
Afterward, I usually head to the old part of Chinatown. The merchants here tend to be American-born Chinese from Toishan and Canton. The Chinese architecture makes this area a popular site for filming movies such as "Rush Hour" and "Lethal Weapon 4." The shops here sell a mixture of curios, souvenirs, trendy collectibles, and art galleries.
Every first, third, and fifth Friday of the month, Grand Star gets transformed into Firecracker, a live jazz downstairs/urban hiphop scene upstairs.
And I always save my pennies for the Chinatown Wishing Well.