Newest Review: ... is not hard to find at all. Once you hit Chinatown, you know about it. The first thing to notice about Chinatown is the variety of smel... more
Chinatown (Toronto, Canada)
Member Name: linzeelou
Chinatown (Toronto, Canada)
Advantages: Exciting and fun
Chinatown is situated is downtown Toronto running through Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue, pretty much right next to Kensington Market. From Union Station on Front Street West, Chinatown is a good half an hour walk away but it is possible to get there by streetcar which will only take about 10 minutes. I would advise walking there though as you will get a much better experience of the city and not miss any of the great things there are to see.
Chinatown isn't actually very old. It was only developed in the late nineteenth century but as of this year, it is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. However, in Greater Toronto, there are multiple Chinatowns but this is always referred to as the main one. Other Chinatowns can be found in Markham and Mississauga. Unlike other specific areas in downtown Toronto, this one is not hard to find at all. Once you hit Chinatown, you know about it.
The first thing to notice about Chinatown is the variety of smells. Lining the streets of Chinatown are many restaurants and shops but the smell of cooking food is the first thing I remember about this area. You could be unlucky though and hit Chinatown at the wrong spot and not get to experience this first. I loved knowing exactly where I was when I got there and it sent my senses into overload.
As you may expect, this area is very colourful. Many of the shops and restaurants have traditional Chinese decorations in their windows so the bright red colours instantly catch your eye. Then you actually look in the shop windows. Many food shops have all kinds of barbequed animals hanging in their windows, duck was one I remember vividly though and it was an extremely strange sight to see. This kind of thing can either gross or freak people out though as it is a little bit different and weird but I quite enjoyed trying to figure out what things were.
Although I did not eat in Chinatown, mainly because I was too much of a wimp, there is so much food on offer. The menus of the restaurants here are nothing like the kind of thing you get from a Chinese take away in the UK. Chinatown offers dishes like octopus and rat among some of the more normal sounding dishes that I would have maybe had. There is no way I would have eaten much while I was here if I had been brave enough. Chinatown is definitely a place for those who are feeling extremely adventurous with their food.
Chinatown is not only about the food though. There are plenty of shops to look around as well as two small shopping centres. Strangely, you can buy the normal tourist souvenirs in Chinatown such as Toronto t-shirts and caps and keyrings etc. There are a lot of traditional Chinese shops as well though and jade was on sale in most of them for really competitive prices. The prices here are great for both Chinese and Canadian items, the Canadian items much cheaper than deeper into downtown. Something else that was a really big thing here was herbal remedies and Asian sweets.
Chinatown is not only occupied by Chinese people though. Now, Chinatown is made up from Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai businesses so there is a real sense of Asian culture as soon as you hit the area. The streets are extremely busy; a complete contrast to other parts of downtown and there is a massive feeling of rushing about here. Still, I thought that it made my trip to Chinatown very exciting and fun as I had to dodge people on the street many times. Also, as there are so many people rushing about here, the streets are somewhat messier and dirtier than other areas but it didn't take anything away from a great experience.
Summary: A great spot in Toronto
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