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Quebec (inc. Montreal)

What happened to our Chinatown??


Restaurants & Bars 28

What happened to our Chinatown??

OliverB | Aug 20, 2010 12:27 PM

Why is it such a worn-out and run-down district and how did it devolve into such a wasteland of shabby and tiresome restaurants and empty lots?

Growing up 20-30 years ago, Chinatown was synonymous with eating out and typical Sunday night family dinners. I remember what was once a fantastic restaurant on (I think) St-Laurent on the block just above Renee Levesque. I forget the name of the place or the nice couple who owned it, but it had huge round doors and a parking lot to the right. I believe this place has been empty and decrepit for nearly 15 years now. It served your average North American style Cantonese/Szechuan complete with white plastic table coverings and big rotating lazy susans int he center. Chinese guardian lions and large Buddhist urns greeted you upon entering and there were wonderfully intricate painted murals adorning all the walls of what appeared to be fables from the far East that used to fascinate me as a kid. I remember my dad would make up stories to go along with the paintings. The bathrooms were downstairs. I'm sure someone must remember the name, it was quite a popular restaurant in the neighborhood some-twenty years ago. I truly miss these types of restaurants that were a lot more common back then. Places where you could order a simple Sunday night take-out meal of won ton soup, egg rolls, shu mei dumplings, Cantonese chow-mein, chicken fillets and black bean sauce with brocoli and baby corn, etc. It seems as though all of the restaurants that have survived the years have become so marginalized, bland and tasteless to the point that they simply to be avoided out right.

While I love that more authentic Asian cuisine is finally being offered in this city, I yearn for the nostalgia of these typically Jewish Montreal Chinese restaurants that used to serve simple but delicious fare. I just ordered from Cafe Wok on St Catherine after hearing good things and it was pretty awful. How did Chinatown fall apart to the state that it's in now and what happen to all the businesses... was it the separtist scare in the 90s that ran everyone out of the city and sent people packing for Toronto??

Where can I still taste the remnants of these old Chinatown haunts for basic yet delicious Cantonese and Szechuan? Is Kam Shing on Cote des Neiges the last 'decent' outlet for this sort of fare? What about the place on Somerled, is that still around and any good?

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