I had read that Canada had the third largest Chinese community in the world and if you visit Chinatown you can believe that.
What I found most appealing were all the different colours and lights, not only the street signs but also the food that was on display everywhere.
If you are lucky you might find yourself in Chinatown at night after the rain and it will look even more spectacular.
Any shop will offer you a million things you probably have never seen before, there was a huge amount of strange-looking (and smelling) food. How can you not love the caramelized ducks/chicken hanging at the restaurant windows?
It was fun to see that this is a community where you don't have to speak English to get around. The staff at many places (restaurants included) could not speak English and even the police station has (what I guess are) Chinese writings on the wall.
In any case it makes it a very special place and I am sure you will not be dissapointed.
I consider this avenue as the chinatown of Toronto. It is a combination of residential but mostly businesses in the area like real estate and insurance brokers, travel bureaus, bakeries, banks, pharmacies, physicians, lawyers, architects, book shops, garments, housewares, and a lot of restaurants.
I do not consider the avenue as a trendy or fashionable area but rather a place for bargain hunters. Streetcar is a means of transportation in Spadina Avenue plying frequently to and from various subway stations.
Nowadays, Spadina is not for chinese anymore. You will see people of different background shopping and haggling with the other bargain hunters. And you will not get hungry as there are restaurants in almost every corner - not only chinese but Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants.
Chinatown is a great place to spend some time shopping, people watching, and fine tuning your maneuvering-in-a-crowd skills. Sunday afternoons are wall-to-wall shoppers, browsers, and vendors. Be prepared.
The smells and sounds of Chinatown are, in my opinion, what make it what it is. Roasted pig, fresh/cooked/dried/salted seafood, coconut drinks, produce I've never seen in my life but would love to try. All this amongst local vendors haggling over the sounds of music coming out of restaurants and store fronts. It's definitely energizing.
The Toronto area has six Chinatowns, the largest being the one in downtown Toronto. It boasts as the second largest Chinatown in North America. My guess would be that the largest is in San Francisco, but don't hold me to that. If you know what is it, email me.
You can't miss entering into Chinatown ..... you begin to notice different scents ... then you notice a change in lighting ...... THEN you notice you must really be drunk, for the signs make no sense! Oh, I'm not drunk!
On second look ....... one realizes the hustle, bustle, and surroundings are actually Chinatown. A thriving Asian community in the heart of TO proper. One can find nic-nacs, Asian art, beads, jewelry, foods, spices, and special little eateries with wonderful grub for only a few dollars.
Bright, busy and up all night - my first experience was at 2am looking for an after pub meal .... Easy to find, hard to leave, Chinatown is a wonderful excursion while in the great city of Toronto :)
I love Toronto's Chinatown! It's my favourite place to hang out and I could literally spend my entire stay there; checking out all the the little shops, groceries, and restaurants. The sights, sounds, and smells (oh, yes smells! ) can be completely overwhelming on your senses. It feels like a fantastic break from Western culture.
Chinatown runs along Spadina Street in downtown and is one of North America's largest Chinese districts.
Try to find a resturant that's packed with locals--that way you'll get to sample the "real" cuisine and not stuff prepared for tourists. Buy some of the imported DVDs that have subtitles, many of the Asian movies are way better ours lately (especially the horror ones).
Toronto's original Chinatown was located at Dundas and Bay St., but when construction began on the City Hall, it moved west to its current location at Dundas St. W and Spadina Ave. It began to really boom in the 1960s. Chinatown has grown to reflect a diverse set of cultres including Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean.
It stretches for several blocks in every direction.
Toronto's downtown Chinatown is one of the Eastern seaboard's biggest, comparable to New York & Washington DC. Its heart is located at Spadina Ave. & Dundas Street, and the community spreads out from there. Toronto CBD also has a Eastern Chinatown located just east of the DVP, south of Bloor.
Other Chinese shopping & entertainment areas in the Greater Toronto Area include Scarborough (Cultural Centre, restaurants), Markham (Pacific Mall, Market Village, First Markham Place & more), & Richmond Hill (concentrated at a part of Hwy. 7, 16th Ave). The new areas of Markham & Richmond Hill are highly populated with Hong Kong residents that just came to Canada right before 1997, so the restaurants there are more H.K. and international style & less Chinese.
Like Vancouver, Toronto has Chinese listed as its third most spoken language in the city. Also interesting to note is the Chinese attraction to money, for Chinese people have flocked to "Richmond" in Vancouver & "Richmond Hill" in Toronto. Coincidence?
Though Chinatown has a lot of Chinese people, there are also many other minorities including Vietnamnese and even South Asians. The Chinese @ Chinatown have also changed from mainly Cantonese & Fuken people to Mandarian people from throughout the Mainland. Now it is easier to get around knowing a couple of phrases of Mandarin like "Zhe shi shum mall ?" (translated: What is this?)
There is a huge selection of cuisine for you to pick from, & though many places are very dirty, many times it is worth it! From Thai to Shanghainese...you could never leave with an empty stomach. There are also a lot of hawkers and mini-vendors throughout Chinatown that offer bargain offers. From Chinese calligraphy to pyjamas, there is a lot for eagar shoppers to sift through!
On the newly reconstructed Spadina Ave, you could see a sculpture two red dragons wrapping around poles. The whole structure forms the Chinese word door, pronounced "moon" in Cantonese.
Chinatown is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto. It's always nosiy and crowded during the weekends. You'll see stores with their products (especially fruits and vegetables) proudly display on the sidewalk. Prices are slightly cheaper and fresher for the produce compared to those in the supermarkets.
There are many restaurants in the neighbourhood as well, most are Cantonese, serving a large varieties of food such as bbq pork, seafood, noodles and rice. There are also hot pot restaurants, where you cook your food in a big pot of soup bases, and Sichuan restaurants if you like hot and spicy food.
In recent years, there are many Vietnamnese restaurants in Chinatown as well. Their specialities include Vietnamnese noodles in soup and Vietnamese buns (hot dog shaped buns filled with meat and veggies).
This Chinatown is the 3rd biggest in the world. Only the ones in San Fransisco and New York rank higher.
You could easily spend a whole afternoon just walking around Chinatown and tasting the atmosphere. Go shopping for spices and clothing in one of the many shops. Or have dim sum for lunch in one of the many restaurants. And you may also want to visit a Buddhist Temple.
As you can see, Toronto's Chinatown is nearly in the shadow of the CN Tower! So, as a landmark, I guess you could say it is Northwest of the Tower. Sorry, but I don't recall the specific street where you will find the greatest amount of activity. There are many sights to see, restaurants to choose from, shops to roam, and things to do that we don't have in Hickory, NC!
There are lot's of fruit and vegetable vendors and I thought I had a picture of the infamous durian, but I can't seem to find it now. Surely worth a visit for the sheer diversity of sights, sounds, and smells not to mention Dim Sum! Yum!
Toronto's Chinatown is one of the largest in North America. Like in any Chinatown, you will be able to find lots of Chinese and Asian restaurants, gift shops, and grocery stores selling everything from fresh fruits, meats, vegetables to Asian dried goods. We were able to find a few restaurants that catered to our taste (Beijing and Shanghai style, as opposed to Cantonese, Hong Kong, and Vietnamese styles which make up the majority of the businesses here). We were able to find a nice restaurant serving delicious steamed buns (bao zi) and pot stickers just west of Spadina Ave. on Dundas St. You can also pick up some cheap Toronto souvenirs at some of the shops here.
Keep in mind that there are several other major "Chinatowns" in the suburbs of Toronto. The Pacific Mall, Market Village Mall, and Splendid China Tower shopping center in Markham (just north of Toronto) are must-visit places to experience more of the Chinese culture in the Toronto area.
I've visited one of Toronto's chinatowns so far, the one at Spadina Avenue. It's one of the chinatowns in Toronto, but I think the most likely one that you will visit. It's wonderful to walk around here and watch the different culture and the people.
I am not used to making photos of people, hahaha, but after some encouragement of a VT-friend (you know who you are!) I gave it a shot. And here is the result, one of my people photos :-)
But not everywhere it is as hectic as on Dundas street. This is one of the quiet sidestreets. I caught this man in my camera lens standing there for a while taking his time to read the newspaper. Behind me there was the noise of the busy Dundas street. And in front this man and behind him one of the many little fruit and vegetable stands. Such a contrast with the hustle and bustle on Dundas Street!
I went into a little store that was selling herbs and health food specialties. I was so amazed by all the things that were for sale. I had no clue what I was looking at. And of course I am curious and I would like to know what it is. So here is a question for you..... please tell me if you know what this is! Not that I am going to buy it, hahaha, I am just very curious. And to be honest.... I found it actually kind of creepy seeing this in the store ;-)
There is a big Chinese community in Toronto. I, being a fan of Oriental things and food, plus that they always have the cheapest clothes-stores there, always head straight for Chinatown while travelling abroad.
What I noticed about Toronto that it is so multiracial and there are several sections of Toronto which are Chinese, Indian, Greek etc.
Chinatown is of course in the center of Toronto, but in the outskirt there is a big Chinese Mall with all things Chinese. It was awesome, I felt like I was in China.
I read there are a number of Chinatowns in Toronto, but the largest and most well known is centered around Dundas and Spadina. As you walk Dundas heading west, the neighborhood changes fairly quickly into an open air market of sorts, with many shops offering goods, fruits, and foods. I found some of the dried seafood among the most interesting things for sale - I'm curious how some of the items are used. If I had more time and was more adventurous, I would have ventured into some of the stores to see what they had for sale. There were also a ton of restaurants, and much of the food smelled fantastic. I could have walked around here for hours - so put on some good shoes and see what you can see!