Chinatown and Kensington Market Adventures

This weekend was hands down the nicest weekend of the year so far. The weather is finally, FINALLY, starting to act like spring. It was in the 20s (celsius) all weekend and beautifully sunny. It truly felt like summer.

I wanted to be outside as much as possible, so on Sunday morning when Evan suggested we roam around Chinatown, I was immediately interested. Since I have lived in the city, I haven’t really ever taken the time to actually explore Chinatown and it’s something I’ve always thought about. Evan also wanted to introduce me to an authentic dim sum restaurant, as I’ve never experienced it. Food and sunshine sounded like a pretty perfect day to me.

So, we went to Chinatown and we were tourists for the day. Well, Evan used to live kind of in the area, so I was more the tourist and he was my guide.

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Chinatown really has some great hats.

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The one that I am wearing is reflective on top. Very handy for blocking the sun.

Chinatown is very interesting and pretty awesome.

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I don’t feel like the photos I took do it justice, so here is one from Wikipedia.

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I honestly felt like I was in another country. I love Toronto for its diverse areas. And its diverse food! Chinatown definitely has some interesting food selections…

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Hanging in this shop window would be an entire pig, duck, and cuttlefish.

And dried seafood anyone?

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What about a delicious dried fish?

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No?

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Yeah, I can’t quite get down with the dried fish. But I can get down with THIS.

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We both got a cup of fresh orange juice and it was soooo good. So so so good. I never got fresh OJ while we were in Florida, so I was happy to make up for it.

After wandering around for a bit we were starving (the dried fish did nothing to curb our appetite), so we went to Sky Dragon Chinese Restaurant to get our dim sum on.

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This was a very new experience for me. I have never had authentic dim sum before. The most authentic Chinese food I have tried is probably General Tsao Chicken. But I love trying new kinds of food, so I was ready.

Sky Dragon is apparently one of the few dim sum restaurants in Toronto that has traditional cart service.

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The ladies push carts to your table every few minutes, offering different selections of traditional dim sum while calling out the names in Chinese. So basically you just point to what you want, sometimes without knowing what it is. Everything is about $2-$3 per dish, with a few of the more exotic selections being a bit more expensive.

I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to new kinds of food, but there were a couple of things that I was absolutely not willing to try, like Fung Jeow. Deep-fried chicken feet. No no no, and no. But otherwise, we went a bit crazy and picked a lot of dishes off those carts…

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We got a LOT of food.

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In the end we had to leave a couple of dumplings behind or we may have exploded. I really enjoyed everything, but I LOVED the beef spring rolls, fried octopus (and I was surprised about this as I am normally not a tentacle fan), and the fried sesame balls with lotus paste. The sesame balls were different than anything I have ever tried before and I loved that they were kind of sweet. The only thing I had a bit of trouble with was the shrimp, because you eat everything except the head, including the tail and the legs. They also still had eyes, and something about eating food with eyes just makes me feel a little…icky.

Evan loved them though, so I just had one and let him go to town with the rest.

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Lovers

Ah, the eyes! I just can’t get down with the eyes!

Once we had eaten all the things and were ridiculously stuffed, we headed back out into the sunshine and wandered over to Kensington Market, which is only a block away and Toronto’s most distinctive multicultural neighbourhood.

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It was really fun to leisurely walk around and check out all the different shops and fruit markets.

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Evan mentioned when he used to live around here he would visit the fruit stands to pick up his fresh produce. This super impressed me because I just go to the lame grocery store. This is much more exciting.

I was still extremely full from our dim sum, but when Evan pulled me into a Brazilian deli, I didn’t stop him.

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There was a lot of delicious looking food in there, but he told me he really wanted me to try a Coxinha de Gallinha.

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And also a Guaraná Antartica, a popular soft drink in Brazil. The coxinha is basically a chicken ball and it was amazing. The outside was like a deep-fried pastry and the inside was like chicken salad. I loved it, it was SO good. I wished I wasn’t so absolutely stuffed so I could have better enjoyed it. I really like that Evan is multicultural cuisine savvy. He is broadening my food horizons!

As we wandered around some more, we were approached by this fine young gent:

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Melodic Yoza. He said he came up to us because we were smiling and looked happy, so I liked him. He was selling his jazz/reggae CDs, and I was tempted to do the “no thank you” thing and run away before we were lured into buying anything, but then he asked if we wanted to hear him sing so I said “Okay, yes please.” And I think he was surprised, but he did. And his voice was a lot better than I expected it to be. So we bought his CD. I don’t even own a CD player and I haven’t bought an actual CD since high school, so I think he should feel pretty flattered. And then he gave us foot fives (like a high five but with your feet), so that made me laugh hard. But I was listening to his CD last night (on my computer) and I like it! Check Melodic Yoza out! He seemed like an overall really nice guy.

It was a fun day in the citay for sure. I love Toronto in the summer. It’s fun to be a tourist in your own city!

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8 responses to “Chinatown and Kensington Market Adventures

  1. Being a tourist in your hometown is the best! Especially when it involves loads of delicious food.

  2. You ate about 10 things more than I would have. Seeing that shrimp with eyes still may make it so I can’t eat lunch today.

    I am basically a small child.

  3. Uncle Leon

    Some of those foods made me dry heave 😉 I love your new singing sensation. You should pass his info along to bobby.

  4. Awe! Sounds like fun times. I’m so glad you are exploring the T.O. There are so many fun neighbourhoods to visit. Let me know if you want any other suggestions.
    I have never been a fan of the Dim Sum. Maybe I should give it another try.
    And Guarana is my fav! I looovvvveee that stuff. Crap. Now I’m having Guarana envy.
    Once the summer comes around we should go on a double date (plus my two kids).
    Fun times a head!!

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