Today the Chinese community in Buenos Aires (and I presume all over the world) celebrated the new year, ringing in the Year of the Rabbit. I’d never been to a Chinese New Year celebration before, and thus decided to head up to Barrio Chino in Belgrano. An easy jaunt up the D Line of the Subte, I met up with my Colombian friend Fer, who in classic Latino form was over a half hour late. By 3:45 pm we were crossing under the giant Chinese gate and merging with the throngs of people pushing and shoving. Though Barrio Chino in Buenos Aires is small (just a few blocks), it is packed with restaurants and supermarkets where you can find imported goods unavailable in most other parts of the city.
Our first goal was to find some food, and fast. We agreed on going to a stand where they sold fried chicken on a stick, but getting there was difficult as we had to push and shove like salmon going upstream. For $8 ARG each we got a stick of fried chicken and a stick of spicy pork. Delicious and satisfying, our next move was to find a restaurant. The only problem is that on this particular day, you’ll have to wait in line to get a table at a restaurant. We walked as far away from the crowds as possible to a little shopping gallery that Fer knew of, and even with less people we had to wait 15 minutes for a table to open up.
We wanted just a spicy chicken dish, spring rolls and a beer, but were told after already giving our order that because it was a busy day we would have to order one dish each. Sharing was not allowed because it was bad for business. Fer was pretty pissed off but I looked at it as a way to get more good food it. We spent a bit more but wound up eating well. Of course we also had to deal with the lousy attention to service, waiting to get an extra plate, followed by getting an extra fork, and no napkins. During our meal a procession suddenly broke through the gallery with gongs and dragon dances. Seated right next to the window, I had a front row seat as I finished my meal.
With the meal over we met up with some other friends of Fer’s including Colombians, a Venezuelan, an Argentine and an American. We checked out a Buddhist temple before grabbing a spot on the hill in the barrancas in front of the entrance to Chinatown and relaxed as the day got chillier. The fireworks which were rumored never came, or if they did we left just before they went off. So pros and cons of the day included good food, but of course way too many people. Not a bad Sunday, though.