Neighbourhood spotlight: Toronto's Chinatown

Step off the Spadina street car and you may just feel like you have been through a wormhole and ended up in an alternate universe, but fear not… welcome to Chinatown! Toronto’s Chinatown is a vibrantly, lively and authentic neighbourhood that is filled with interesting shops, great restaurants, relaxing spas and really great bargains.

Restaurants

From dim sum to bubble tea, you are sure to find much to whet your appetite in Chinatown. Hit Somerset road for the best choice in restaurants. So Good is great eatery with a huge menu. If you get spoilt for choice, try the crispy beef. Wander a little further down to Royal Treasure, Jadeland or Yangtze for equally scrumptious offerings. If Chinese food isn’t for you, there are a plethora of Vietnamese noodle joins, Japanese sushi restaurants, Korean barbecues and fusion restaurants on offer. If you need a cuppa tea to fortify you for all the shopping you’re about to do, then Ten Ren Tea Company on Dundas is the place to go. They serve delicious bubble tea and have a very wide selection of teas on offer. Ask any of the knowledgeable staff for the most delicious varieties or teas to cure every ailment imaginable.

Shopping

From cross trainers to Ming vases and everything in between, if you are looking for a bargain, then Chinatown is the place for you. There are stores that sell just about anything at a great price. The quality of goods runs the gamut from landfill fodder to exquisite, so be discerning and realize that Louis Vuitton probably doesn’t make genuine leather bags for $8.

Some of the great treasure troves of household goods include the Tap Phong and Min Chau Trading Companies and NeoHome Houseware. Hit up Gwartzman’s for cheap art supplies, U & Me for clothing or the Chinatown Center for the convenience of having a number of stores in one location.

Weekend getaway

Chinatown does sport a number of cheaper hotels and is a great place to stay if you are in Toronto for a short, frugal visit. The proximity of cheap eateries and public transport make it a very convenient destination. The bustling business tapers off after dark and it’s relatively quiet; head to the downtown core for late night festivities instead.

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Image via simon.carr

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