Toronto’s Chinatown

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No matter where I travel, I always drop by Chinatown. It tells a lot about a city, because Chinatowns are not just about China — many other communities also find a home here. For instance, in Ottawa, Chinatown is also Little Saigon and in France, many traditional Asian shops sell Caribbean products.

Toronto’s Chinatown didn’t disappoint me. It was colorful, messy and it smelled of exotic and spicy food. I observed the people attending their daily business: biking around, shopping, cooking and chatting. Chinatowns are invariably little enclaves with local businesses, not franchises. It’s refreshing to walk more than a block without spotting a Tim Hortons or a Starbucks.

At noon, we stopped to have lunch in the tiniest restaurant ever. The woman at the front was making dumplings and boiling them in huge pots right past the restaurant’s door. We squeezed in and had a huge plate of boiled and fried 饺子 (chives and pork dumplings) with soya, vinegar and sesame sauce.

Stores and Signs

Stores and Signs

Trinkets and People

Trinkets and People

Array of Herbs

Array of Herbs

Picking The Best Fruits

Picking The Best Fruits

Making Noodles

Making Noodles

Picking Oranges

Picking Oranges

Post No Bills

Post No Bills

Making Soup

Making Soup

Making Dumplings

Making Dumplings

Bracelets

Bracelets

Boiling Dumplings

Boiling Dumplings

Fried Dumplings

Fried Dumplings

Cutting Meat

Cutting Meat

Selling Fruits

Selling Fruits

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

20 Comments

  1. Traditional Chinese characters (繁体字)are used here. I suspect most of the ethnic Chinese here are immigrants from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

    When I was in California, I often went to Little Saigon to purchase Asian food.
    .-= Khengsiong´s last blog ..School Uniform =-.

  2. When I visit Toronto I go to the outskirt of the city because they have far more restaurants and shops. I also like T & T supermarket as well. Toronto’s great to eat food that can’t be find in Montreal.

  3. i love going to places like that. you are right about the little shops, they are fun to see. you never know what little treasure you might find.
    and even the little greasy spoon restaurants have fun things on the menu. but sometimes its hard explaining the meaning of vegetarian. yes, we have noodle soup, they will tell me. vegetarian, yes. what is the base? chicken. gaa!
    .-= Seraphine´s last blog ..Goodbye Danielle =-.

  4. In Dublin, there is not a Chinatown just a little China as they call it but honestly it’s just a street or maybe two but no more. I love to drop by chinese/asian markets to buy some things like tea. Since I was in China, I’m a tea lover. My favorite is green and oolong teas.

    Although I’ve been in China for almost three years, been studing mandarin for 2 years, I can’t read or even speak a word. It’s a pity.

    See you,
    M.
    .-= Cornflakegirl´s last blog ..Summary & Resolutions =-.

  5. Oh I visited Toronto’s Chinatown when I was there back in November 2008. That was where I found the best dumplings ever. I was so sad that I cannot buy fresh Asian fruit and take it across the border, but there were so many things that remind me of home.
    .-= Linguist-in-Waiting´s last blog ..Gadgets to Go =-.

  6. Chinatowns always intrigue me, even though I’m of Chinese descent! I love to see how they blend in with their adopted nation, and how they harmonize their presence with the mainstream culture. The result is always very interesting! 😉
    .-= kyh´s last blog ..Livin’ la vida Bunaken’s way =-.

  7. @Lizz – They are cute too! But I have a quite large collection I brought back from China over the years, so I usually don’t buy any at home.

    @Agnes – It’s supposed to be the biggest Chinatown over there, right?

    @Tulsa Gentleman – Do you have a good place in Tulsa?

    @Khengsiong – I think most Chinatowns around the world use non-simplified characters, probably because either people immigrated before the characters were simplified (which is often the case in France) or because they come from HK and Taiwan. That said, I heard of lot of Beijing hua around.

    @Bluefish – T & T just opened in Ottawa two months ago… I love it, even though it’s a bit more expensive than in Chinatown.

    @Nigel Babu – And that’s two! 😆

    @Seraphine – 😆 I know exactly what you mean. I was a vegetarian for many years (althought not a hard-core one) and I gave up after traveling in China and in Argentina. In China, a meal without meat is “cheap” so they always sneak in dead animals parts… and in Argentina, people seem to rely entirely on a diet of steak and meatball spaghetti! 😆

    @Cornflakegirl – It’s very easy to forget how to read and write characters… I do force myself to practice!

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – I don’t eat much Asian fruits – which ones would you recommend?

    @Soleil – Yes, I realized that a while ago. Makes them even nicer!

    @kyh – I know what you mean! And Chinatown do adapt to the local culture, they are all different.

  8. Oh, wow, Zhu. I loved these pictures!!! I love Toronto’s Chinatown, though I know the one on Spadina Ave more than the one on Bloor near Don Valley Parkway.

    Isn’t it odd that Toronto has two Chinatowns, now that I think of it? Have you been to both?
    .-= Gabriel´s last blog ..Ring =-.

  9. Hi Zhu,

    I think that in most larger cities, there will always be a Chinatown.
    There’s & very special mix to these places that can only be apprecited by walking slowly & using all your senses.

    I’ve known Honolulu’s ( the original Chinatown had to be burned down in the early 20th century because of a plague outbreak), where the early Chinese population was brought over for hard labor in the sugar cane fields/ other jobs.

    Yes, the best part of Chinatown is the food 🙂 I looove dim sum and anything with noodles.

    Bises xx

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