The neighbourhood guide to Chinatown
With its red and gold Chinese archway and streets lined with neon-signed Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, and cafes, Manchester’s Chinatown is a lively and thriving part of the city centre. It’s the second largest Chinatown in the UK, and its location, just a minute’s walk from Piccadilly Gardens, makes it very accessible for visitors and residents who want to experience a different side to Manchester’s culture.
A bit about the history: Chinatown really got going in the 1970s when the area’s textile warehouses emptied out, giving Chinese entrepreneurs a central area to create restaurants next to the city’s business district. Over time a distinct quarter developed with medicine shops, health centres, financial services, supermarkets, old people’s homes and Sunday schools.
Chinatown looked in severe decline a decade or so ago with huge Chinese supermarkets sprouting on the city fringes. But in recent years, new arrivals from Hong Kong and a large Chinese student population have made this neighbourhood more popular than ever. And that’s despite the competition from the burgeoning new Chinatown on the junction of Oxford Road, Charles Street and Hulme Street, where a flurry of Chinese and South East-Asian cafes and restaurants have sprung up to cater for the international students.
Back at the main Chinatown, it’s not just Chinese food that is well represented. Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese have all joined the party, making it one of the most exciting areas for dining out in the city centre.