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

What banquet culture means to San Francisco — and Chinatown

April Chan, May 12, 2017

San Franciscans of a certain generation have a specific vernacular to describe things of epic proportion: hella. (To emphasize the epicness, trill the “l” for added dramatic effect.) For this San Francisco native, it’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of banquet dinners in Chinatown. As in, hella loud. Hella, hella food.
And in the case of Chinatown’s New Asia restaurant, hella big. So for me, news of the city’s decision to convert Chinatown’s largest banquet hall into affordable housing brings mixed feelings. With gentrification sweeping through many parts of San Francisco, any effort to keep increasingly disadvantaged, longtime residents of any neighborhood — let alone, a historic district such as Chinatown — should be lauded. Read more…

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / The popular New Asia restaurant in S.F.’s Chinatown is popular for banquets. The city is in contract to purchase the property and convert it into affordable housing.

Searching for a lost piece of Vancouver’s Chinatown

JOHN MACKIE, January 31, 2017

When Salli Pateman decided to open a restaurant in Chinatown she wanted to do something that reflected the neighbourhood’s history. The Vancouver Archives had a 1936 photo of her building at 158 East Pender, showing staff from the Sai Woo Chop Suey restaurant watching a parade. So she named her restaurant Sai Woo. Read more…

Men on street in front of Sai Woo Chop Suey House at 158 East Pender Street, circa 1936. James Crookall/Vancouver Archives AM640-S1-: CVA 260-452. JAMES CROOKALL / PNG

Are we witnessing the death of Chinatown — in Vancouver and across North America?

By Douglas Quan, National Post

VANCOUVER — As dusk fell over Chinatown recently, a line formed outside the entrance to Kissa Tanto, a stylish Japanese-Italian eatery named Canada’s best new restaurant this year by enRoute magazine. A trio suited up for the downtown office towers nearby sipped cocktails over candlelight at the Juniper Kitchen and Bar. Around the corner, twentysomethings seated at share tables gorged on vegan pizzas at Virtuous Pie. Hip new restaurants and glass and concrete condos in Canada’s largest Chinatown have, some say, injected a youthful vigour into an area that has been stagnant for years. Gone are the days when produce and seafood stores spilled their wares onto busy sidewalks and shoppers haggled with shopkeepers to “peng di la!” — drop their prices even more. Read more…

The cavernous Chinatown Supermarket sits empty. (Mark Yuen / Postmedia News)

Chinese Cooking in the U.S.: A Short History

By Bob Frost, HistoryAccess.com, 2009

America today has about 41,000 Chinese restaurants, according to one trade magazine, a total that exceeds the combined national presence of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. Journalist Jennifer 8. Lee makes an interesting point: “If our benchmark for Americanness is apple pie, ask yourself, how often do you eat apple pie? Now how often do you eat Chinese food?” Read more…

A wok holding stir-fried vegetables and meat.
A wok holding stir-fried vegetables and meat.

Meet East Vancouver’s original urban farmers

By CHRISTOPHER CHEUNG, AUGUST 10, 2016

Michaelina Teo has grown produce for many years, from mangoes in Brunei to the Swiss chard at her Renfrew home, but last year was the first time she ever won a prize for the sexiest squash. Read more…

Like many immigrant Asian seniors, Jason Lee and his wife, Jean, grow a colourful mix of eastern and western crops in their East Van garden. Photo Jennifer Gauthier
Like many immigrant Asian seniors, Jason Lee and his wife, Jean, grow a colourful mix of eastern and western crops in their East Van garden. Photo Jennifer Gauthier

Three Great Beef Noodle Soups, with Martin Yan

By LUCKY PEACH

Here is a completely unqualified statement that I dare you to refute: beef noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food. I would bet that a broth-y bowl of slippery noodles and falling-apart-tender beef brings fuzzy feelings to more people on earth than any other dish (save, perhaps, for a bowl of plain rice). Beef noodle soup appears in innumerable forms all throughout Asia (and beyond, if you count tortellini en brodo and sopa criolla and goulash and Campbell’s). There’s rich, sweet red-braised beef noodle soup in Taiwan, fragrant Vietnamese pho, beef udon and ramen, icy-cold Korean naeng myun—all delicious in their own ways. Read more…

DINER | Chef Douglas Chang To Open Ai & Om Knife Store On E. Pender Street In Chinatown

by Andrew Morrison, MAY 11, 2016

Vancouver cooks of every stripe – be they amateur, professional, or utterly hopeless – will soon have a chef-owned knife store to call on for all their edged-tool needs. Located at 129 East Pender Street in the heart of Chinatown, Ai & Om is being launched by chef Douglas Chang (formerly Bambudda, Sai Woo). His passion for hand-crafted Japanese knives is decades old, kindled in tutelage by a master of the art when he was a young chef de partie in New York. Read more …

Chinese Canadian Archive: From Chop Suey to Peking Duck

by Suk Yin, July 4, 2016

“Chop suey” translates as “mixed bits” and was a popular dish among early Chinese immigrants and Caucasian diners. Corresponding with the dynamic growth of various Chinese populations in Toronto, the variety of Chinese cuisine has grown dramatically and, today, we have a multitude of choice – from chop suey to Peking duck and everything in between – according to our preference. Read more …

Mr. Lee Hong's laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street 1912 Series 372, sub-series 55, item 43, City of Toronto Archives
Mr. Lee Hong’s laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street 1912
Series 372, sub-series 55, item 43, City of Toronto Archives