By BARRY LANK
ECHO PARK — Much has changed in Echo Park since Wichhica Nhim’s parents, who fled to the United States from Cambodia in the 1970s, opened Chinatown Express in an Echo Park Avenue minimall 15 years ago. The pace of gentrification took off, rents and real estate prices have spiked and new restaurants, bars and shops have opened. Now, Nhim’s family restaurant has changed, too.
This weekend, a grand re-opening ceremony, complete with with Chinese dragons dancers, marked the transformation of Chinatown Express into Combo A – a sleek, contemporary version of the the old restaurant.
“Everything was updated from the floors, tiles, paint, and décor to all the furniture,” Nhim said.“Our customers are here on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. We decided that we wanted to create a new space to call home for all of us.”
The new name was inspired by the restaurant’s popular lunch combination that’s long been a staple at the restaurant: rice and/or noodles, plus two items from the steam table.
Despite the new look, much remains the same. Nhim and his family remain in charge, and, and most of the food selection — including the Combo A deal — hasn’t changed but some new additions are possible.
The new appearance in a way reflects the ongoing changes in the surrounding neighborhood. “Today’s Echo Park includes familiar face alongside new faces, but it remains the same tight knit neighborhood that houses the differences in each of us,” Nhim said.
Combo A is located at 1411 Echo Park Avenue.
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