Toronto has been, and continues to be, inescapably shaped by the countless Europeans, Asians and Latin Americans who’ve made it their home. It’s said that half of all Torontonians were born elsewhere. The city’s made special not only by the patchwork of these transplanted cultures, but also the open-mindedness with which they’re embraced.
The Asian influence on the city is perhaps the most conspicuous. Toronto’s got a handful of enclaves that could be described as a Chinatown, but by far the biggest and busiest lies at the heart of downtown. With around 100,000 people, the neighbourhood extending from Spadina Avenue through Dundas Street is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.
Step foot on Spadina and your senses are treated to an unmistakably Eastern assault. Shops spill out onto the street with stalls overloaded with brightly coloured, mass produced stock. At the whim of one breeze your nostrils are filled with the sweet smell of fragrant fruit, on the next they’re washed over with the aroma of freshly captured fish. Sidewalk etiquette at the height of the day’s hustle and bustle rules you must jockey for position – Western decorum is all but suspended.
Chinatown’s the place to go if you’re looking for a bargain or a taste of the East. Don’t miss these spots:
Orientate yourself at the Chinatown Centre (222 Spadina Avenue), where you can pick up a herbal remedy, cheap clothes or a fast food snack in the food court.
Slurp some no-frills seafood chow mein at the all-hours Swatow (309 Spadina Avenue) noodle house.
Soak up the sights, sounds and smell of Chinatown while bargain hunting down Spadina Avenue. Grab a fruit you’ve never tried before or some highly-discounted ‘fashion’.
Stuff yourself for dinner with one of Kom Jug Yuen’s (371 Spadina Avenue) ludicrously ample portions.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…
(Image: chensiyuan)Brett Ackroyd