Instead of China, try the Vancouver area
When Judy Lam Maxwell, the owner of Historical Chinatown Tours, guides her three-hour food and walking tours of Chinatown in Vancouver (100 dollars), she introduces travelers to the private heritage buildings in the district that once served Chinese immigrants, who came in the late 1800s to build Canada’s transcontinental railroad. They housed associations that provided accommodation, banking, social events and protection against discrimination.
“It’s fun to go in and see the elders playing mahjong and the insides of these buildings, which are like museums,” said Ms. Lam Maxwell, who continues the tour with a two-hour lesson in dumpling making, which she describes as central to Chinese culture: “It’s bonding and sharing food.”
A wave of immigration preceded the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule; another more recent wave has been linked to China’s booming economy.
Many newcomers settled in the suburb of Richmond, which is 54 percent ethnic Chinese, according to a 2016 census, and home to Asian shopping malls, the International Buddhist Temple and, most famously, food, including more than 800 restaurants, a “dumpling trail” of more than 20 restaurants, including Empire Seafood, and a night market reopening July 23.
“In North America, Chinese food is pasteurized in so many ways,” said Alex Chen, who emigrated to the area from Malaysia as a teenager and is the executive chef at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, where the cooking is grounded in French techniques.
Around Vancouver, the Chinese options are regional, he added, or specialize in hot pot dishes, noodles, fried rice and more. Among his Richmond favorites are HK BBQ Master for Peking duck and Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant for innovative dim sum.
“We are so blessed and lucky to have lots of choices at the very highest standards,” he said.
Back around Vancouver’s original Chinatown, stay at Skwachàys Lodge, a boutique hotel devoted to Indigenous art and culture (from 170 dollars), just a few blocks from the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
By Elaine Glusac