The Chinese have traditionally occupied an important position in the life of Port Louis, and the area between the two 'friendship gates' on Royal St Forms the centre of the city's Chinatown. Here you'll take in the rich mercantile life of the Chinese community, busy Chinese restaurants and grocery stores, and streets echoing with the unmistakable clatter of mah-jong tiles.
The first Chinese immigrants landed in Mauritius in the 1820's from the province of Kwang Tong in the South Eastern region of China, and were followed by the Hakkas, originating from the region of Honan in central China. A large number of them converted to Christianity due the European cultural influence.
China Town remains a living proof of this culture although the Chinese community comprises only of a minority in the Mauritian population. Some habits such as traditional festivals as the Chinese New Year, the Moon festival and the dragon boat festival are long awaited ones and infuses China Town with new life and zest.
While walking along the street, you would really think that you are in a part of china with its varieties of spices and herbs for culinary dishes and medicines, Chinese foods, arts and decorations, gowns and many other interesting things.
The streets in China Town are extremely busy on weekdays and you can expect to find second hand and used spare parts, plastic toys, Chinese paintings, clothes, books and medicines in the same shop!
The smell of Chinese spices along with dried mushrooms and ingredients is very pungent and quite rare nowadays in fast developing Mauritius but not unusual as it is common saying that every Chinese cooking ingredient can be found there. Thankfully, China Town remains one of the most authentic places in Mauritius, full of history and mystery. The Mauritians with Chinese background speak with the heaviest Cantonese accent and some still use their abacus to calculate.
Walking along those streets will make you jump into a different world altogether, with dust, different smells, busy people, different commercial goods than the usual, never seen before spices, and some restaurants with authentic Chinese menus.
Some of the well-known ones are Lai Min, Le Grand Canton and a Cantonese restaurant called Kim Chi House. In fact, most Mauritians know China Town as being a good place for good food. During lunch time on weekdays, you will find businessmen and work people taking their lunch break in China Town.
Come and taste the good food of China Town and discover the culture of an authentic place in Mauritius!
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