Keeping Chinatown’s 1,000-Seat ‘Floata’ Afloat in the Pandemic

By Christopher Cheung and Joshua Berson 15 Jul 2020, TheTyee.ca

You can’t have Chinatown without Chinese food. In Vancouver’s historic neighbourhood, there’s the tourist, looking for a bite of culture. There are politicians like Justin Trudeau, looking for a place to campaign. There’s the immigrant senior, looking for familiar food. There’s the resident from the Downtown Eastside, looking for something hot, affordable and a place to sit. But in a pandemic, how are Chinatown’s eateries faring? After our visit to Gain Wah, our series continues with Floata.

“Last year, Justin Trudeau came here for Chinese New Year! And now, we’re losing money whether we close or we open,” said Andre Ruan with a sigh. “These are very difficult times.”

There were always massive crowds at Floata, Canada’s largest Chinese restaurant: fundraisers, weddings, tour groups and parties by various Chinatown societies all brought people to Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. …read more

‘This is the biggest venue in Chinatown,’ said Andre Ruan, a general manager of the neighbourhood’s 1,000-seat Floata Seafood Restaurant. Photo by Joshua Berson.

In the Pandemic, ‘Gain Wah’ Keeps Dishing Out Chinatown Classics

By Christopher Cheung and Joshua Berson, 13 Jul 2020, TheTyee.ca

You can’t have Chinatown without Chinese food. In Vancouver’s historic neighbourhood, there’s the tourist, looking for a bite of culture. There are politicians like Justin Trudeau, looking for a place to campaign. There’s the immigrant senior, looking for familiar food. There’s the resident from the Downtown Eastside, looking for something hot, affordable and a place to sit. But in a pandemic, how are Chinatown’s eateries faring? In this series, we’ll bring you inside the doors of three longtime favourites.

“Son, you know what? You need some skills.”

“What skills?”

“If you know how to cook, you’ll get a job. There are restaurants all over the world.”

The advice from his father would eventually lead Andrew Leung to run Gain Wah in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and for a lot longer than he thought he would. When Leung bought the restaurant from a friend in 1989, he told his wife he’d try it for eight, maybe 10 years. …read more

After running Gain Wah for 31 years, Andrew Leung is still dishing out all the familiar favourites in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Photo by Joshua Berson.

‘The physical legacy of struggle and sacrifice’: How Chinatown is part of Vancouver’s past — and its future

Jennifer Van Evra, CBC Radio, Feb 12, 2020

In recent decades, much of Vancouver’s Chinese community has moved to areas such as Richmond and Burnaby, which has led some to ask, “Why preserve Chinatown?”

But at a special forum hosted by The Current’s Matt Galloway at Floata Seafood Restaurant in the heart of the historic neighbourhood, prominent Vancouver entrepreneur Carol Lee argues it is an essential part of Canadian history.

“If it were any other part of Canadian history, I don’t think we would even be asking that question,” says Lee, founder of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, who also opened the popular Chinatown BBQ, a restaurant aimed at revitalizing the neighbourhood through food. Read more

The Current’s Matt Galloway explores Vancouver’s Chinatown with historian Judi Lam Maxwell. (Andrew Nguyen/CBC )

Watch This Brilliantly Fictitious Account of One of Restaurant Culture’s Greatest Inventions

By Andrew Morrison Aug 26, 2019

Last week I openly pined for more Lazy Susans in Vancouver’s restaurant scene. I just love the things and wish they were more common. While the convenient turntable-on-table’s origins are a matter of the historical record, I much prefer this fantastical take by filmmakers Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey. They tell a much different (and better) story.

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The yum cha rules you need to know

Karen Chiang, BBC Travel, 28 February 2019

As a born and bred Hong-Konger, going to yum cha with my family every Sunday is an important tradition that has lasted many generations. Here, stories old and new are recounted over a table full of bamboo baskets that hold a variety of dim sum – small bites that encompass everything from delicately translucent prawn dumplings and silky rice rolls to molten lava custard buns and sweet roasted pork buns.

Literally meaning ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese, yum cha is as common a meal in Hong Kong as coffee and toast in Western culture, where Chinese tea is enjoyed with dim sum at traditional tea houses. Dating back to ancient China, teahouses have long been a place of rest and conversations for the common people. Read more…

Yum cha is as common a meal in Hong Kong as coffee and toast in Western culture (Credit: Karen Chiang)

The politics of banning shark fin in Vancouver

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, MAY 7, 2019

Remember that day long ago when then-city councillor Kerry Jang stood up in the council chamber with two packages of shark fin in his hands?

Maybe you don’t.

I do because I happened to be there. Something about working for a living. It was September 2012.

The packages belonged to Jang’s mother and were purchased more than 40 years ago. Their original price was $14 each. Apparently, the fin is now worth several hundred dollars. Read more…

The City of Vancouver is waiting to see whether a bill will be passed in Ottawa to ban shark fin before considering a Vancouver-only ban on the Asian delicacy. File photo Dan Toulgoet

UK doctors will soon prescribe cooking classes to combat loneliness

Associated Press, October 15, 2018

LONDON — Doctors in England will be able to write prescriptions for cooking classes and walking groups by 2023 as part of the government’s effort to combat loneliness.

Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday described loneliness as “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” saying it is linked with a range of illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

The government says around 200,000 older people across the country haven’t had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.

The government’s anti-loneliness strategy calls for “social prescribing,” which will allow doctors to recommend group activities such as cooking classes, walking groups and art clubs, instead of medication. About $2.4 million has been earmarked for the initiative.

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YOUR KEY TO Vancouver’s Trendy Chinatown

Shelley Hayashi

Vancouver’s Chinatown is undergoing a transition – a crossroad where the past meets the present and tradition intersects modernity. As many old businesses retire or move out to the suburbs, new businesses bring refreshing and exciting opportunities to this area. It’s a favourite neighbourhood of mine to explore, as I always come across new shops and discover new experiences.
A Settlement of Chinese Labourers
Vancouver’s Chinatown, with its rich and colourful history, grew out of a settlement of Chinese labourers brought over by the CP Rail Company in the late 1800’s to complete the final treacherous part of building the railroad across western Canada. Chinatown was the only place in those days where these sojourners could find housing and community support. As the years passed, this rough and tumble neighbourhood expanded and evolved into a prosperous, vibrant gathering place for Vancouver’s ever growing Chinese population. Chinatown was jammed with shops, restaurants and nightclubs from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, and the neighbourhood continued to be a community hub until well into the late 1980’s. Read more…

Food is a powerful community builder

United Way

Food is a powerful community-builder. It brings people together, bridging cultural and generational divides. It shapes our understanding of the world.

“Food is about dignity,” says Kevin Huang, co-founder of the Hua Foundation, a youth-driven non-profit organization based in Vancouver’s Chinatown. “Food keeps us alive. It connects us socially and culturally to our families and the places we call home.” Read more…

Photo credit: Christina Lee