One of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods flourishes with restaurants, grocery stores, herbal shops and malls. You’ll also find lively pedestrian traffic, Chinese-stylized phone booths, hand-painted signage and more.1 YUMMY EATS
Jing Jing Bakery has soft buns and pastries with sweet and savoury fillings like barbecue pork, curried beef, ham and egg, almond and mango. To find it, go into the building on the corner of 3 Ave and Centre St S, and head downstairs. 100 – 3 Ave SE, 265-9588.
2 COLLECTOR’S PARADISE
Animage boasts one-of-a-kind collector’s items imported from Japan, like first-edition anime, and weapons replicated from action flicks. In the Far East Shopping Centre, 5, 132 – 3 Ave SE, 205-4330.
3 CULTURAL CENTRE
This striking temple houses a Chinese library, cultural museum, arts and crafts store, and a Chinese restaurant. Its central hall, modelled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, rises 70 feet to a dome adorned with intricate designs, including 561 dragons and 40 phoenixes. 197 – 1 St SW, 262-5071.
4 HISTORIC PARK
Practice Tai Chi in the serene Sien Lok Park, the only green space in the area and a landmark celebrating the community’s fight against a freeway project that threatened to destroy Chinatown. See the “Wall of Names,” a monument created to bring recognition to Chinese pioneers who made Canada their home between 1886 and 1947. Riverfront Ave & 1 St SW.
5 SUM FOOD
Sample traditional Cantonese and Szechuan dishes during the daily dim sum at the Silver Dragon, an establishment that’s been around more than 40 years. Steaming carts full of authentic items like barbecue pork buns, chicken feet, and shrimp dumplings roll over to your table so you can choose the ones you’d like. There’s also a menu of over 200 items prepared by Hong Kong-trained chefs. 106 – 3 Ave SE, 264-5326.
6 LUCKY CHARMS
Experts in the art of Feng Shui were consulted before the largest enclosed Chinese shopping mall in Canada was built, ensuring Dragon City Mall is well-located for good fortune, peace, and the exclusion of evil spirits. Find Chinese and Japanese eateries, traditional herbal and clothing stores, bakeries and gift shops. While you’re there, check out Lee’s Oriental Arts on the bottom floor and Grace Gifts on the top—both stores carry ceramic figures hand-crafted by top artists in China—items for good luck, health, and happiness. 328 Centre St SE, 233-8733.
7 TRENDY TEA
Find bubble tea inside the traditional Taiwanese teahouse Peerless Pearl. Chewy black tapioca balls are consumed through a wide straw in this smoothie-like beverage. Choose from 26 different flavours, including honeydew, coconut, papaya and almond. 130 – 2 Ave SW, 233-7718.
Chinatown is located on the edge of downtown and encompasses about a half-dozen blocks located on either side of Centre St from 4 Ave S to the Bow River near 1 St SE.—Jennifer Hilliker