Exotic cultural shopping and dining experiences abound in Winnipeg’s historic little Chinatown. Formed in 1909, this is the neighbourhood to visit if your taste buds savour the flavours of Cantonese, Szechwan, Huaiyang and Shandong cuisine.
There are also plenty of shops filled with spices, teas and ancient herbal medicines to browse through. Completed in 1987, the gardens at the Dynasty and Mandarin buildings offer visitors a tranquil and exotic spot for an outdoor lunch or place to reflect. The Dynasty Building’s many roofs are a symbol of good luck, while the Mandarin Building is decorated with a replica of the Imperial Nine Dragons mural. The ornately decorated street bridge connecting the Dynasty and Mandarin buildings welcomes visitors to the area.
Where to eat
Metal trolleys stacked high with bamboo baskets and small plates of traditional dim sum are a sight to behold at Kum Koon Garden. Items of note include pork and ginger dumplings, deep-fried eggplant and Vietnamese springrolls. Their grand dining room is decorated with beautiful red and gold Chinese lanterns and seats hundreds for dim sum on weekend mornings.
Noodle Express is a venerable hole in the wall located on the bottom floor of the Dynasty Building. Dim Sum connoisseurs are adamant that this bare bones, no frills room (which is often packed) is the top spot in the city for buns and bowls.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian spot, Little Saigon offers heaping plates of Vietnamese food with plenty of meat-free options, including refreshing salad rolls. For meat lovers, order the deluxe vermicelli, featuring succulent pieces of charbroiled pork.
Maxim Bakery & Pastry specializes in Chinese pastries and baking. Try a moon cake – a mid-autumn festival favourite, or nosh on flaky barbecue pork puffs.
Enjoy a jumbo bowl of deluxe wonton soup at hidden treasure, Sumhay. The savoury broth brims with pork, mixed vegetables and plump wontons stuffed with pork and shrimp.
Top Places to Shop
Young’s Market stocks essential ethnic ingredients that appeal to beginners, foodies and expert chefs providing a unique and exotic adventure every trip. Located on the main floor, the Dynasty Eating and Shopping Centre has shops and services that cater to the Chinese neighbourhood. Businesses include a small grocery store heaving with Chinese decorations and imported food, a travel agency, and Noodle Express restaurant, which is renowned for its fresh dim sum.
Nan Bei Hang Herbal Products Co. has the look and feel of an old-fashioned apothecary. Dried mushrooms, roots, ginger, seaweed and other herbs are displayed in large glass jars at this Chinese medicine and tea shop.
Housewares, produce, frozen food, imported dry goods, sauces, noodles, rice and other staples line the shelves of Oriental Market.
Sun Wah Supermarket not only carries a vast array of imported Asian food and housewares, it houses a barbecue counter (the duck is excellent), butcher and Asian medicine shop.
Top Things to See and Do
Located outside the Dynasty Building, the well-maintained Chinese Gardens boast beautiful flowers, a shallow pond with a walking bridge and pagodas. Special events are held here in warmer months.
The Dynasty Building’s Chinese-influenced architecture makes it a must-see structure. Home of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre, this building is a centre for arts and learning, and houses the only Chinese library in Manitoba.