Historical Chinatown Heritage and Food Tasting Tour @chinatownfest

While at the TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival yesterday, M and I decided to go on the Historical & Food Tasting Walking tour, which costs only $5! The tour guides are volunteers but ours, Andrew Wong, happened to be a history major (I think). The tour takes us to 9 places: 4 historical places and 5 food places with samples. There are actually 2 routes A and B, which alternate. I asked what was the difference but the volunteer didn't remember and couldn't give me an answer. I think the tour I went on was "B". Also, some of the food samples are not portioned so if you want the extra ones, be quick!

Our first stop was the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver's headquarters located 108 E. Pender St. Usually people aren't allowed in but they have a open house just for the tour! We went up some steep flights of stairs to the 3rd floor of the building.

 It is basically a meeting room adorned with a mix of old Chinese artwork and figures.

 These chairs are so cool looking and fit the dragon theme of the festival, too! 

The second stop was another historical building: the Wing Sang Building at 51 East Pender Street. It is one of the oldest buildings in Vancouver and its original owner helped establish the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver. It is being used as an art gallery currently. Admission to the second floor is by donation and temporarily houses artwork from Emily Carr Institute.

Next we headed down the street to New Town Bakery & Restaurant (148 East Pender Street) where we tried a sample of steamed buns.

 We got to choose from a quarter of a BBQ pork bun, chicken bun or vegetarian bun.

Continuing on, we crossed Main Street to Ten Fu's Tea and Ginseng Co. (550 Main St) where we were given a small cup of white tea. Careful, it's really hot!

We passed by this mural as we headed to our second society headquarter - Kong Chow Benevolent Association on 140 East Hastings Street.

There are many societies in Vancouver but are dying out. They originally were intended to help early immigrants from China in Canada. Each linage e.g. same last names would help each other out.

Nowadays, most society members come here to socialize and play Mahjong. A lot of members are from a older generation.

Next we briefly stopped by Kiu Shun Trading Co. Ltd. at 261 Keefer St. It is the first and original store that carries products based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Down the street was Sing Chong Food Centre (253 Keefer St), which is a butcher shop. They sell fresh and preserved meats and cooked meats.

We were given a sample of BBQ pork and BBQ ribs. These went really fast. No toothpicks or forks, everyone had to grab them with their fingers. Make sure to ask the shop owner for some paper!

Next was Keefer Bakery Ltd. (251 East Georgia Street) where we were given samples of red bean cake and lotus cake.

I liked the lotus cake better, it is sweeter and has a smoother consistency then the red bean cake.

Our last stop was just across the street from the bakery. It was Phnom Penh (244 E Georgia St), one of the most popular Vietnamese (/Cambodian) restaurants in Vancouver. It is always busy even late at night with wait times up to 45 mins! I've been here once and they do serve pretty delicious stuff!

Our "sample" was really a plate of delicious Deep Fried Garlic Squid to share amongst the group. Not surprisingly these went really quick too.

Here the tour ends and you can either follow the guides back to the Chinatown Festival or go off and do your own thing.

Overall, this was a great tour to learn more about Chinatown and the food was great. I had fun! Really worth the five dollars!

The TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival is still on tomorrow from 12 - 6pm where you will the Historical & Food Tasting Walking tour. It runs every 45 minutes starting from 1pm and the last tour leaves at 3:30pm. Go for it!

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