5 Things to do in Old Chinatown

The list of things to do in Toronto’s Old Chinatown runs long enough to fill an entire day. Of course, you’ll find tasty dim sum, grocery stores that stock those hard-to-find ingredients, cultural festivals, and more.

Here are a few suggestions of how you can experience some of the highlights of the neighbourhood.

Chinese New Year celebrations on Spadina Avenue.

1. Experience a Cultural Festival

The streets of Old Chinatown come alive during the annual Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year. There is music, folk dancing, martial arts, and, of course, the classic bobbing-and-weaving lion dancers at the Dragon City Mall. Many restaurants will offer special dishes during this time as well. Every August, Old Chinatown is home to the Toronto Chinatown Festival, a busy two-day festival that features entertainment alongside a diverse range of food and drink vendors. These cultural festivals really show the heart of the Chinese-Canadian community in Toronto.

Pork siu mai at Dim Sum King Restaurant.

2. Feast on Dim Sum

Few things beat the excitement of Hong Kong style dim sum that has ever-rotating pushcarts, where you can choose your dishes based on what looks best to you as it goes by. During the weekends, Dim Sum King is where you’ll find a colossal dining room packed with hungry patrons ready to pick off a steady stream of offerings. Try as many as you can, but don’t miss the steamed pork siu mai, har gow, and rice noodle rolls. For those who want a more relaxed experience, a traditional restaurant where you order off of a menu may suit you better like at Rol San.

3. Sit Down for a Relaxing Tea Experience

Icha Tea is a soothing oasis among the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood. You can select a range of teas like oolong, green, white and a number of rare and aged varieties. All teas are customizable There is also the tea bar option where you can be individually served tea by a bartender for a full tasting experience. Save some room for dessert as there’s some unique items on the menu here like their black sesame tofu cheesecake and rose jasmine mousse pudding.

4. Indulge in Egg-Custard Tarts and Other Treats

If you have a craving for fresh dan tat, the traditional Chinese egg-custard tart with a flaky, buttery crust, we recommend heading over to Mashion Bakery. You can also find an assortment of other sweet and savoury treats like fried sesame balls, barbecue pork buns, sponge cakes, almond cookies, etc. Most items are about a dollar or less. Be sure to visit them in the morning for best results.

View of Lucky Moose Mart on Dundas West.

5. Stock Up on Unique Ingredients 

Are you one of those people that like roaming the aisles of the grocery store? If yes, than Lucky Moose Mart must be on your radar for Asian-centric items. There are shelves packed with varieties of noodles, rice, chili pastes, seasonings and a large produce section with dragonfruit, guava, durian, jackfruit and mangosteen (depending on the season). Kai Wei Supermarket is another good option for browsing around.

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