Victoria, BC - Chinatown

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#1
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We dock in Victoria on 9/8 from 6pm to mid nite and plan to check out the inner harbor but just discovered that the Chinatown here is the oldest in Canada and second oldest in N. America. Just wondered if it's walkable from the port?

Thought about maybe having dinner and Wah Lai Yuen was recommended for Southern Chinese food (I'm Cantonese and could go for dim sum!) but wondered if there are any other recommendations!


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#3
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
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I'm sitting not more than a few hundred metres away. I wouldn't call it sketchy, at least compared to any U.S. inner city (or biggish town). If anything, the area is becoming too hipster and trendy. Not much left in the way of Cantonese or any Chinese fine/finer dining (well, at least compared to Vancouver).

I do see lot of newer Chinese faces around town, the surrounding 'burbs and up island but no idea where these folk go to eat (the person I'm housesitting for is from H.K. but her food preference seems to lean more towards Iranian for personal reasons).
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#4
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by cruising cockroach
I'm sitting not more than a few hundred metres away. I wouldn't call it sketchy, at least compared to any U.S. inner city (or biggish town). If anything, the area is becoming too hipster and trendy. Not much left in the way of Cantonese or any Chinese fine/finer dining (well, at least compared to Vancouver).

I do see lot of newer Chinese faces around town, the surrounding 'burbs and up island but no idea where these folk go to eat (the person I'm housesitting for is from H.K. but her food preference seems to lean more towards Iranian for personal reasons).
Well.....anything there has to be better than what passes for Chinese food here in Charlotte. BBQ? No problem. Authentic Chinese, on the other hand.............
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#5
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
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Dim sum is a lunch time tradition so that's an unlikely find in the evenings. You *might* try, if your luck runs out, a Fairway Market which has Chinese owners and hence a bent towards Chinese foods.. Best selection of Chinese groceries and ready-to-eat/go food. None really near Ogden Point though.

Let me know what you find - I like to find out w/o taking too much of a gamble!
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#6
WA State, USA
1,112 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
We enjoy Don Mee in Victoria's Chinatown. There are other cruisers who have posted favorable comments on this restaurant in previous Victoria threads. The menu is extensive with an option for Dim Sum. Decor is traditional and service very good. We visit Victoria often and Don Mee is a favorite.
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#7
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by cruising cockroach
Dim sum is a lunch time tradition so that's an unlikely find in the evenings. You *might* try, if your luck runs out, a Fairway Market which has Chinese owners and hence a bent towards Chinese foods.. Best selection of Chinese groceries and ready-to-eat/go food. None really near Ogden Point though.

Let me know what you find - I like to find out w/o taking too much of a gamble!


Yep, always go for "yum cha" or drink tea but many places in Toronto, Washington DC and NYC have dim sum off the menu at other times than when they push the carts - figured it might be something similar available......


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#8
Pacific Northwest
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Joined Mar 2014
It's totally walkable from the terminal but it will take you 30min or so. If you are hungry hop a cab. I'm not sure you will find Dim Sum in the evening here. We typically go to Ocean Garden and there can be a wait. There also an awesome bun shop just around the corner on government st. the area is not sketchy by any means. Fan Tan alley will most likely be of interest to you. And if you want a bit of history about the Chinatown the Ghostly Walks were incredibly done when we took them a few years ago. Hope you enjoy our city.


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#9
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
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Just a note: A lot of the newer Chinese immigrants to B.C. and especially Victoria are from the mainland, and probably not Cantonese. It can be hard to find someone who speaks it (I don't speak mandarin/putonghua).

A few recent stories. I was at a bakery in east Vancouver and chanced upon a bakery. Wanted to buy char siu paos (sweet BBQ pork buns), as did the woman in front of me. Neither of us can read Chinese but can speak Cantonese. We asked one of the staff whether they had any and she pointed some to us, which we bought. Well, mine turned out to be minced pork with ginger (the king of stuffing you get in steamed dumplings). They were quite good but disappointing, especially to my ethnic Austrian wife.

I was at another bakery in Oakridge and asked the woman in line behind me if she spoke Cantonese so I could find out what was what. She just shook her head.

I think in this town, Ill have to make my own Chinese food, it I can find the ingredients.
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#10
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by cruising cockroach
Just a note: A lot of the newer Chinese immigrants to B.C. and especially Victoria are from the mainland, and probably not Cantonese. It can be hard to find someone who speaks it (I don't speak mandarin/putonghua).

A few recent stories. I was at a bakery in east Vancouver and chanced upon a bakery. Wanted to buy char siu paos (sweet BBQ pork buns), as did the woman in front of me. Neither of us can read Chinese but can speak Cantonese. We asked one of the staff whether they had any and she pointed some to us, which we bought. Well, mine turned out to be minced pork with ginger (the king of stuffing you get in steamed dumplings). They were quite good but disappointing, especially to my ethnic Austrian wife.

I was at another bakery in Oakridge and asked the woman in line behind me if she spoke Cantonese so I could find out what was what. She just shook her head.

I think in this town, Ill have to make my own Chinese food, it I can find the ingredients.


Thanks for the heads up. I guess those of us that speak Cantonese are a dying breed. My mother tried to get us to learn mandarin when we were little but since our grandmother only spoke Cantonese we thought there was no point and resisted. If we only knew then.........


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#11
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
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Cantonese isn't dying, at least for now though it is apparently endangered (there's 100 million speakers worldwide but they're said to be getting older and not being replaced). Over here, there is still a large number of speakers but you have to know where to find them. It's just that Cantonese (and Toishan) are not the predominant dialects anymore. I notice more and more mainlanders (I'm not even Cantonese by any stretch but it's what I can speak).

I really just don't notice many Chinese restaurants here in Victoria. A lot of the small town Canada Chinese restaurants are being taken over by recent immigrants. Food can be interesting.
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Way, way back....
P&O Cathay between Singapore and Hong Kong and back, March 1968 + August 1969
Koeln-Dusseldorfer Line Rotterdam - Bern
Thomson Ithaca Tanger to Brindisi April 1974
Chandris Bruge-Norway-Tilbury August 1974
Chandris Southampton - Canary Islands + Madeira - Southampton August 1976
#12
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
True, but Mandarin is the preferred dialect wherever I go. People begin speaking to me and seem confused when I appear lost and when I tell them what I do speak, they seem to have an amused look, lol.

We still plan on visiting, at least I check out Fan Tan Alley and maybe get a decent meal - guess there's always the International District in Seattle!


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#13
20 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
The Cantonese settlement that is descended from the early immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century can still be found in Vancouver's Chinatown (this is the one that is the oldest in Canada and was once second only to San Francisco's Chinatown.) While some of the places there are reminiscent of the earlier Chinese restaurants (i.e. no-frills) there are still some there. It would appear that the more recent immigrants (Hong Kong people escaping from the Chinese turnover, Taiwanese, and PRC) have settled in Richmond. We didn't go to any Chinese places in Victoria, but other cruisers (descendants of early Chinese immigrants to the U.S.) tell me that is is slightly tourist oriented (not outrageous, but definitely targeted for a more lucrative market.)


We were in Vancouver a few weeks ago, and the scenery has certainly changed. Higher end Cantonese Chinese restaurants (the ones that reflect offerings to the more financially affluent of the recent Hong Kong migration) are all over Richmond and some in Vancouver (though not in Chinatown)

Originally posted by Herfnerd
We dock in Victoria on 9/8 from 6pm to mid nite and plan to check out the inner harbor but just discovered that the Chinatown here is the oldest in Canada and second oldest in N. America. Just wondered if it's walkable from the port?

Thought about maybe having dinner and Wah Lai Yuen was recommended for Southern Chinese food (I'm Cantonese and could go for dim sum!) but wondered if there are any other recommendations!


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#14
YVR & PDX
3,831 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by SiliconCruiser
The Cantonese settlement that is descended from the early immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century can still be found in Vancouver's Chinatown (this is the one that is the oldest in Canada and was once second only to San Francisco's Chinatown.) While some of the places there are reminiscent of the earlier Chinese restaurants (i.e. no-frills) there are still some there. It would appear that the more recent immigrants (Hong Kong people escaping from the Chinese turnover, Taiwanese, and PRC) have settled in Richmond. We didn't go to any Chinese places in Victoria, but other cruisers (descendants of early Chinese immigrants to the U.S.) tell me that is is slightly tourist oriented (not outrageous, but definitely targeted for a more lucrative market.)


We were in Vancouver a few weeks ago, and the scenery has certainly changed. Higher end Cantonese Chinese restaurants (the ones that reflect offerings to the more financially affluent of the recent Hong Kong migration) are all over Richmond and some in Vancouver (though not in Chinatown)
While I'd agree that Victoria is very much a tourist-primary Chinatown these days, it's definitely older than Vancouver's larger one by decades. I just double-checked with the local VCBIA and they don't claim any date much before 1890 for Chinese settling down permanently in Vancouver (post-railroad), while Victoria has solid records going back to 1858 (gold rush). We're the biggest, but Victoria is the oldest...
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#15
Victoria BC
123 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
If you visit, look for a very small butcher shop next to the cafe with the bbq pork and roast duck in the window (great spot for lunch). Go inside to see the original sign - according to an expert on the Chinese migrations to the West Coast, this is the longest continuously operating business in North America. Once owned by my niece's father-in-law who came to Canada as a very young man and sold it to people from the same small of China near Canton.

Don't look at our Chinatown as touristy, but rather than a very historic district trying very hard to survive as populations and tastes change.
#16
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
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Originally posted by airheadfan
If you visit, look for a very small butcher shop next to the cafe with the bbq pork and roast duck in the window (great spot for lunch).
Is this on the main/only drag through Chinatown? Will have to visit.

True, but Mandarin is the preferred dialect wherever I go. People begin speaking to me and seem confused when I appear lost and when I tell them what I do speak, they seem to have an amused look, lol.
It all depends on where the people (or their ancestors) are coming from. I was in Belize 5 years back and it'd appear that ToiShan/Cantonese immigrants run most of the grocery shops and Cantonese was definitely their preferred dialect. The Chinese in Indonesia decided to use Mandarin for reason of commonality (similar to how French came to be the common language in New France or what became Québec), and Singapore's government imposed it. In Malaysia, the Chinese speak whatever their ancestors spoke. In Peru, you'd be hard-pressed to find it spoken or find people who look Chinese in Lima's Chinatown though their descendants are everywhere and Chinese food (chifa) is very popular nationally.

Putonghua (or "common language" a.k.a mandarin) is what is taught in China as that's what the youth (or even young/middle aged adults) know. Mandarin also has sub dialects of which what we call standard mandarin is one of). I was in a part of Guangxi and the locals spoke a Mandarin dialect which apparently uses the same sounds but different tones!
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P&O Cathay between Singapore and Hong Kong and back, March 1968 + August 1969
Koeln-Dusseldorfer Line Rotterdam - Bern
Thomson Ithaca Tanger to Brindisi April 1974
Chandris Bruge-Norway-Tilbury August 1974
Chandris Southampton - Canary Islands + Madeira - Southampton August 1976
#17
Charlotte, NC
2,717 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by airheadfan
If you visit, look for a very small butcher shop next to the cafe with the bbq pork and roast duck in the window (great spot for lunch). Go inside to see the original sign - according to an expert on the Chinese migrations to the West Coast, this is the longest continuously operating business in North America. Once owned by my niece's father-in-law who came to Canada as a very young man and sold it to people from the same small of China near Canton.



Don't look at our Chinatown as touristy, but rather than a very historic district trying very hard to survive as populations and tastes change.


Would love to visit - just hope they will still be open when we arrive!


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#18
San Diego, California
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Originally posted by Herfnerd
Would love to visit - just hope they will still be open when we arrive!


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Me too, I'll be back in Victoria in about 10 days ...

Finger's crossed
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#19
Charlotte, NC
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Originally posted by airheadfan
If you visit, look for a very small butcher shop next to the cafe with the bbq pork and roast duck in the window (great spot for lunch). Go inside to see the original sign - according to an expert on the Chinese migrations to the West Coast, this is the longest continuously operating business in North America. Once owned by my niece's father-in-law who came to Canada as a very young man and sold it to people from the same small of China near Canton.



Don't look at our Chinatown as touristy, but rather than a very historic district trying very hard to survive as populations and tastes change.


Forgot to inquire about the shop's name!


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