On my plate: Come, let’s go to Chinatown!

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By Stephanie Yuen

Vancouver’s Chinatown is the 3rd largest in N. America, after New York and San Francisco, and is the root of our world renowned Chinese cuisine. Many agree Vancouver has the best Chinese food outside of China.  While Chinatown is celebrating its 125th birthday, let’s go take a closer look. We’ll start early in the morning, so we can glimpse into how some of my favourite shops start the day. We shall start with Keefer Street.

At Sun Fresh Bakery, owner and head baker Danny comes in the middle of the night to make the dough and leave trays of them to rise.  Ray the baker is responsible for all the European style pastries, Ming and Jessica are the steam bun experts.  Everyday at about 5am, they arrive, turn the kitchen light on and start rolling and making the pastries and buns.  By the time the store opens for business at 8am, Ray has already turned in numerous trays of assorted baked items and golden egg tarts.  The two bun ladies, who make 1000 buns weekdays and 1500 weekends, will have fluffy white veggie buns, pork & vegetable buns, BBQ pork buns, bean buns ready to go.

The butchers at Sing Chong BBQ and Meat Shop are trimming off fats, portioning meats and preparing advance orders for delivery.  Aromatic and steaming hot roasted pork, spare-ribs and other BBQ items make their way from the kitchen at the back to the BBQ station to be hung and displayed. Look at that 300+ lb. whole roasted pig!

When owner Ken slides open the door gate at Chinatown Supermarket, deliveries are made, bins of vegetables and fruits are being organized.  The fishmonger at the back gets his seafood tanks and catch of the day ready.  There, a gentleman waits for his order - a big slice of lingcod.

Hungry?  Shall we sit down for some breakfast?

A few doors down from the supermarket is Maxim’s Bakery and Café (opens at eight), the restaurant upstairs would have greeted its first group of regular customers who come in for their morning coffee, tea or the mix yin-yang drink and a fresh from the oven cocktail bun, made-to-order breakfast sandwiches or a complete set of Hong Kong Style 3-course breakfast. Most of them are white or blue collar workers from the neighbourhood, others are early risers who enjoy having their first meal with the daily newspaper purchased outside the storefront. Let’s join them.

And when we’re done with breakfast, we’ll go visit Guo Wah Herbal Store (on main) and check out those interesting dried roots and herbs and go shopping in one of the fashion stores.  Before we leave, let’s go and taste some tea at Ten-Ren Tea & Ginseng House, our last stop will be off to Hon’s Wonton House (Keefer Street) to buy some noodles and dumplings.

For information on Edible British Columbia’s Chinatown Market Tour with Stephanie Yuen, please log on to www.ediblebritishcolumbia.com

For Breakfast Television clips on Chinatown Foodie: http://bit.ly/cvENB9

Other blog posting: http://blogs.btvancouver.ca/family-fun-in-chinatown