Xe Lua is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan.
Concentrated below Canal Street and populated mostly by Cantonese speakers, the diversity of the new Chinatown reflects large-scale immigration from Fujian province and Taiwan, as well as an influx of Mandarin speakers from the interior provinces of China. In addition, some Vietnamese and a few Tibetans, Malaysians, and Cambodians have made this area in Lower Manhattan home in recent years. As much of what nominally was Little Italy was taken over by fruit and vegetable wholesalers, small restaurants, printing shops, and other businesses catering to the community, more apartment-building conversions and turnovers occurred. Even the stodgy restaurant supply stores and lighting showrooms on the Bowery are being transformed as change brings a fresh new face to some of lower Manhattan’s most eclectic real estate.
A shopper and food lover's mecca, you can find nearly anything on Canal Street, from stereo equipment to fresh fish to jewelry to industrial art supplies. It is truly one of America’s most dizzying arrays of products available on one street. Head to one of the small bakeries for a snack, a Vietnamese restaurant for a large bowl of beef soup noodles, a large dim sum restaurant for a great variety of dishes, or a seafood place for great right-from-the-tank fish. Then enjoy some of the great flavors at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Also visit the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, which offers fascinating exhibits that chronicle the history of this community. We've got an entire walking tour of Canal Street and Chinatown that has many more terrific highlights.
You'll find terrific new hotels awaiting you in Chinatown as well, some located on the fringes of the adjacent, swankier neighborhood of SoHo. There's the well-known Holiday Inn Manhattan Downtown/SoHo on Lafayette Street just above Canal Street, the Hotel Azure just below Canal, and the Best Western Bowery Hanbee nearby on Grand Street.
In addition to the explosive growth of Manhattan's Chinatown, largely thanks to the tremendous economic expansion of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, two rival Chinatowns, one in Brooklyn, the other in Queens, have emerged. You can hitch a ride out to those Chinatowns on one of the many shuttle vans that go for $1-$2 from a number of street corners near the Manhattan Bridge.