Toronto Chinatown - Impressions

Toronto Chinatown

Toronto Chinatown

During our stay in Toronto let's take our time to stroll through Chinatown. This is arguably one of the most famous ethnic neighborhoods in the metropolis on Lake Ontario. Chinatown is the neighborhood in Toronto that best shows the culture of its people. For me it symbolizes the diversity of this multicultural city. It is unmistakably Chinese with the works of art that stand in the center of the Chinese quarter on the corner of Spadina and Dundas. With the Chinese characters that are emblazoned on house facades and shop signs. The grocery stores, whose fruit stalls have exotic fruits like rambutans, lychees or dragon fruits. Some fruits and vegetables have names that mean nothing to us. When asked what that is, we get the Chinese name as an answer. After that we are just as smart as before. There's a lot to discover in Toronto's Chinatown. We invite you to take a stroll through Toronto's Chinese Quarter.


Chinese shops
Chinese shops in Toronto Chinatown


Chinatown Toronto - center at the intersection of Spadina and Dundas

We start our walk at the intersection of Spadina and Dundas. There is a stop for the street cars. A sign on the facade of the Hsin Kuang Center announces the opening of the Golden Diamond restaurant. In addition, it says that all day Dim Sum is offered. This is the delicious Chinese finger food. This can be brought to the table in bites by the waiter. Then you choose the dishes that suit you the most. There is no fixed price. Instead, you pay for the amount of snacks you have eaten. There is also tea. Foo Hung recommends drinking this too. Dim sum is very oily. The tea ensures that the food is well tolerated.


Dim Sum at the Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant
Dim Sum at the Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant in Toronto Chinatown


Shopping in Chinatown Toronto - not that easy

Generally the food in Chinatown. It's not that easy to find your way around. Exotic dishesthat we do not know are in abundance here. Some grocery stores adapt and present their goods in English. Others don't. Or they cannot because there is no English name for their products. So we stand in front of some shop windows or shop shelves with a questioning look. If we look for help from the employees of the shops, the questioning look is often simply given back. Either because they don't understand what we're asking. Or because there are no English names for the dishes. English is not the main language in this part of the city. We are therefore looking for shops where the goods are also explained in English.



There is something exciting to discover there. Pink-colored rice cakes, yeast rolls, as they are also available from the baker around the corner. Dumplings filled with pork, green beans or black beans. They are rolled in sesame seeds. We also find spring rolls with vegetable filling. At a bakery we discover Lotus Pastry, a biscuit made from sesame seeds. This is baked in flower shape and looks almost lifelike in its colors. Finally, it adorns a structure for wedding cakes in the shop window.


Pork dumplings and green bean dumplings
Pork dumplings and dumplings with green beans in Toronto Chinatown


Exotic dishes in the Chinese Quarter

In other shops we see mangoes, sweet cherries, pineapples, papayas, bubble tea or sugar cane juice. The shop signs advertise the harvest from the Orient. They recommend tropical fruits or herbs from China. Or the nearest noodle restaurant. Most of the time, however, we cannot read them because they only announce in Chinese characters what is being sold behind the facade. It is definitely an exotic and fascinating world that we are immersed in here.


Sesame balls with black beans in Chinatown
Sesame balls with black beans in Toronto Chinatown


Toronto's Chinatown is getting smaller

Toronto's Chinatown is not as big as it once was. By the construction of the New City Hall and the complex of Nathan Phillips Square, the Chinese were pushed westward from their once larger district. Where Chinese restaurants, laundries and shops used to be crowded together, the city's new town hall now towers into the sky. The Chinese quarter around the corner of Dundas and Spadina did not develop until after the 1950s. At that time, the wealthy shopkeepers moved their shops to what is now called Old Chinatown, actually a misnomer.


Shopping in the Chinatown Toronto market
Shopping in the Chinatown Toronto market


In addition to South Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese, Chinese come from the mainland

The makeup of Chinatown's population has also changed in recent years. Initially, it was mainly immigrants from southern China and Hong Kong who moved to Toronto. Since the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China in 1997, mainly immigrants from mainland China and impoverished Vietnamese Chinese have come here. You settle in Old Chinatown. The wealthy Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, on the other hand, do not live here. They prefer the residential areas of Markham and Richmond Hill instead.


Exotic fruits at a fruit stall in Chinatown, Toronto
Exotic fruits at a fruit stall in Chinatown, Toronto


Discover the smells and scents of Chinatown in Toronto

Our tour of Toronto's Chinatown takes us into one strange world with smells and scentsthat arouse curiosity. We want to find out more about this. We discover dishes that we don't know but like to taste. We meet people whose language we don't understand. We look just as exotic to them as they do to us. We are confronted with a culture that we would like to get to know better. A reason to get closer to the way of life of this Toronto people to put apart? What do you all mean? I think so, and maybe that's a topic for one of our next visits to the city on Lake Ontario.


Fruit stall in a supermarket in Chinatown, Toronto
Fruit stall in a supermarket in Chinatown, Toronto


Here you will find more About Toronto's Chinatown.


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Source: own research on site with the kind support of Tourism Ontario. Our opinion remains our own.

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Copyright Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Toronto Chinatown - Impressions
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