Best Place to Find an Opium Bed

“When I opened in 1971, my hair was black and duty was high,” says Alex Cheung, owner of the eponymous shop on Chung King Road in Chinatown. “It was before Most Favored Nation status was granted to China. Now the duty is very cheap.” Cheung revives his stock every two or three months by traveling to China to buy furniture and sending it all back here in a 40-square-foot container. He’s been selling his wares from the same spot for 35 years. His showroom is stacked to the ceiling with chests, chairs and cabinets, and the pieces are as varied as the Chinese provinces they come from. Plus, the prices are implausibly low. Dressers, desks, opium beds, window seats and tables are well made from various soft woods like cherry, elm and cedar. Some of the furniture is lacquered black or dark red, and there are Tibetan chests and cabinets painted with happy religious depictions. The distinctive drawer pulls, hinges and locks are all beautifully crafted. If Cheung knows the back story on a piece (and he usually does), he’ll gladly fill you in. Try and get a word in. He’s got stories. If you’re a regular customer, and can’t find the exact item you’re looking for, he’ll try to find it for you on his next trip to China. He also delivers. In addition to the stunning furniture, the showroom is full of urns, porcelain, baskets and the odd folk piece. The other day, he had wooden rice-measuring boxes and a wooden tea cozy. But if you’re looking for Rosewood furniture, head on down the road. “Everybody sells Rosewood furniture,” says Cheung. “Not me.”

Alex Cheung 938 Chung King Rd., Chinatown, (213) 629-4705

LA Weekly