I think I’ve said this before, but one of the most exciting things about going to school downtown is all the exploring you get to do. For someone who grew up in small-city Edmonton, Toronto is a whole ‘nother concrete jungle. A while ago, I did a little “outing” post about The Annex. Today, I’m going to talk about the area around Spadina and Dundas – Chinatown.
I love going to Chinatown. Since first year, I would plan Saturdays where I would go there and buy groceries to my heart’s content (yes, I like grocery shopping). Almost everything there is perfect for the student budget. It also was a place where I can get comfort food, since I’m so far away from home and mom’s kitchen. Oh, and a terrific place to go for lunch. So, what’s so awesome about Chinatown? Well, there’re two things, really:
1. The Food
If you’re looking for hearty steak and potatoes, sorry to disappoint. If you’re looking for sweet buns and tarts, simmering soups, fragrant entrees and just all around yummy Asian food, Chinatown is the place to go. My favourite places are:
- Ajisen - Ramen, for when you don’t have time to go to Kinton on Baldwin.
- 1Hour - Noodles, chicken and classic new age Asian drinks. I especially love their Xiao Guo noodles and Winter Melon Tea. Oh. And juiciest chicken wings EVER. But the best part has got to be the fact that you sit on bean bags. You read that right. Bean bags.
- Pho 88 - Who doesn’t love pho? I love Vietnamese food because it’s not as heavy as the usual Chinese fare. They’ve also got veggie options.
- Asian Legend – This place has got some of the best northern Chinese cuisine in the city. The prices might be a bit higher than the other three I’ve recommended, but when you go with a group of people and order dishes to share, it’s totally worth it.
2. The Shopping
At Chinatown, you can find lots of small shops and stores that sell knick-knacks. Need slippers? Little baskets? Funny looking chopsticks and spoons? Almost everything is less than $10. When I first moved here, I was in need of some chopsticks and spoons. I got 2 pairs of chopsticks and 3 ceramic spoons for about $4. After I figured out just how res works, I looked for house slippers. $4. It was awesome.
But by far the most exciting shopping you’ll do in Chinatown is grocery shopping. Grocery options around campus are sparse. What you spend can add up fast, so before you know it, you’re spending $50 at Metro (it was the closest one to Woodsworth Res) on groceries that barely last you a week. At Chinatown, you get much more variety, and a bigger bang for your buck. You can easily at least 1.5 to 2 times more groceries with the same amount of money.
Word of warning: shopping in Chinatown is something that might take some getting used to. Even if it doesn’t become your favourite grocery place, going there and seeing what it’s like is one of those must-see Toronto experiences.
If you want to see more than just food and… more food, word on the street has it that there’s a night market going on every Friday and Saturday from now until September 7. It runs from 5pm to 10pm on those days. It’s on its second year, but a little birdie tells me that they will be having food vendors this year.
So, guess I’ll be seeing you guys there?