Chinatown Dining Week returns with inflation-friendly deals

· The Pulse

Chinatown Dining Week is back for the sixth year in row, featuring 15 food businesses in Edmonton's Chinatown area from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5.

The participating businesses — all returning from past years, spanning both Chinatown North and South — have prepared special menus for $10 or $20 that will be offered for in-person dining and/or takeout.

The event has grown significantly since it began in 2018 with just five restaurants participating, aided in part by social media and other online channels, co-founder Sharon Yeo told Taproot. The wide variety of cuisine available in Chinatown has also helped the area punch above its weight, making the event something to look forward to each January.

"Chinatown has always been known for value-oriented food," Yeo said. "But particularly now, in the current climate of inflation, it's almost unheard of to be able to purchase a full meal for $20."

She added that "the breadth of cuisines available at that price point, ranging from regional Chinese to Vietnamese and Korean, or those who can accommodate vegan and vegetarian diets, is vast in a small area."

Restaurants such as 97 Hot Pot, King Noodle House, and Padmanadi, bakeries Hong Kong Bakery and Shan Shan Bakery, and grocery store Kim Fat Market (which offers prepared food for takeout) are among the businesses participating.

Sharon Yeo and Freya Fu lead a group of people down a wide sidewalk in Edmonton's Chinatown

Chinatown Dining Week co-founders Sharon Yeo (left) and Freya Fu (right) have been introducing Edmontonians to businesses in Chinatown for more than a decade. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Yeo said Chinatown Dining Week's mission remains to introduce Edmontonians to the "culinary gems" available in Chinatown, and there's evidence it has an impact.

"We have heard from participating businesses in the past that during Chinatown Dining Week, compared with the weeks leading up to the event, their order numbers have increased by more than 50%," Yeo said.

While some businesses are relatively new, such as Co Chin Saigon and Spirit Bistro, the majority have been operating for more than a decade. "Hong Kong Bakery and Kim Fat, for instance, have both been open for more than 30 years," Yeo said.

Yeo said the presence of long-standing businesses speaks to the resilience of Chinatown, especially given the focus on issues of safety and security over the past year.

"We hope Chinatown Dining Week can play a role in continuing to raise awareness about these locally owned establishments and support their longevity in Edmonton."

Edmonton has a couple of other dining weeks in the works: Feed the Soul Dining Week will explore Edmonton's Black culinary scene, and Greater Mill Woods Dining Week is to shine a light on eateries in Mill Woods, The Meadows, and Ellerslie.