Recently the Help swooped me away to a place called San Francisco and walked me over to a neighborhood called Chinatown. This place was nothing like DC's Chinatown, or Fake Chinatown as I think of it. The problem with our Chinatown is that it isn't. Don't let the gate on H Street fool you, gates and signage does not a Chinatown make. People make a Chinatown. Lots of people. In San Fran's Chinatown the sidewalks were filled with lots and lots of old Asian folk. Our Chinatown has sidewalks of black young folk and white people wearing Caps jerseys (or whatever people reflecting the event du jour at the Verizon Center).
I vaguely remember a time when you could stumble upon a bunch of Chinese restaurants around there. That was before the Legal Seafoods, before the Hooters, before all the Thai restaurants, before all of that. Now your choices for Chinese (not Japanese or Thai) fare is located around 6th and H Streets. There is Ping Pong Dim Sum on 7th. But if I wanted real dim sum I'd have to go out to Virginia around Seven Corners. I love Ping Pong Dim Sum, regardless of it being real or not, and it might fall under pan-asian, but not really Chinese.
There is that one Chinese variety shop near the Indian restaurant on 7th. As far as residences go there is the Wah Luck House on 6th, which houses elderly persons of an asian background. There must be something good going on inside because I don't see too many residents out on masse. Now if they roamed the streets in numbers like the young people near the Gallery Place metro maybe we'd get more of a Chinatown feel.
As time passes the name Chinatown becomes more of a joke. The signs, the punch line.