When June Coutre and her husband Michael were ready to start a family, they decided to move to Chinatown. Ten-year-old Meia now spends her Saturdays learning kung fu and often walks home from school with her Chinese grandpa.
What made you decide to move to Chinatown?
My parents had moved back to Chinatown when I was 19. My husband and I figured we'd have a child and wanted them around Chinese culture and around grandparents, so we moved to a condo my parents owned in Chinatown.
You said your parents moved back to Chinatown? Did you grow up there?
No, I grew up in East Rogers Park. When I grew up, we owned a Chinese restaurant at Western and Devon.
Is your husband Chinese?
No, he's Swedish, Irish and French.
But he agreed to move to Chinatown?
Yes, he knew it was important and that I wanted to make sure my daughter had that culture within her, although she doesn't speak Chinese, which is a bummer.
Do you have her in some activities in the neighborhood?
She goes to the Chinese American Service League in Chinatown and she's taking a drawing class and kung fu; she also took a Chinese dance class.
Are there things to do?
There's a dragon boat race and there's Ping Tom Park and that's a fun park. One of the things I should say about Chinatown, we're working on getting the library expanded. We're trying to get a field house or rec center right in the Chinatown community. There really isn't a place for kids to go after school. The kids get out of school at 1:45 and we don't have a library or anything, so we're pushing for resources, for a library.
For people visiting, what restaurant do you recommend?
Right in Chinatown there's a few different ones. If it's lunch and you want to stay in Chinatown, there's Triple Crown, which has two locations on Wentworth. Also China Café for dim sum. There's even the newer part, Chinatown Square, where there's the Phoenix Restaurant, which is good for a larger group. What's interesting, or what people are surprised to know, the bakeries that are scattered throughout on Wentworth and on Cermak that have Chinese buns with different fillings inside, a lot of those are also offering different dishes for dim sun, and bubble teas or the smoothies are being served in a lot of bakeries.
How about shopping? Do you have any insider tips?
The gift shops, a few are owned by the same owner. You have to look through them all, and if you catch something, look through others because they can be priced differently.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.