Food Crawl: 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton’s Chinatown

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This 2020 I hope to rejig the Food portion of the blog (the tabs at the top of this page lol) so that it serves as a better and easier to navigate guide to restaurants/food. I did some re-jigging to the Travel section in the last few months of 2019 (what do you think?) and intend to do the same for food! 

One of the ways I’ll be making more useful food posts is by writing a ‘Food Crawl’ / itinerary kind of blog series. 

Something that’s evolved with my blog over time is that I really have moved away from just random reviews including of places that I didn’t like. Today, if I don’t like a place, I won’t write about it. I won’t recommend it. I don’t feel the need to shit on it unless I don’t know, the server or the owner really goes out of their way to shit on me, lol. I’d rather have this space be a space that is for my recommendations. Places I’ve tried and liked or loved. Places that I think you might like or love. No one’s ever asking me “what place do you hate and don’t recommend for a date night?” lol they’re asking the opposite. So I hope to post and organize those recommendations better this year!!

Now I debated writing this type of neighbourhood ‘Food Crawl’ itinerary blog which will be the start of a series of blog posts I share recommending places you could be eating within walking distance to one another in different Edmonton neighbourhoods.

I debated mostly because I’ve been hosting more of these food crawls in a ticketed capacity (see my Instagrammable Wall Walks), which funnels into part of the work I’ve been doing since I started my own business (see my services) in early 2019. Why would I want to create something that takes part of my income away? There’s also that notion that you never want to “give away too much” because that would leave little incentive for people to want to use your services.

When I think about this, I also think about something a bypasser said during a past Old Strathcona walk that has stuck with me—he said (as I was leading a group of 20 past him in an alleyway)—”you guys know you can just walk around yourself right? You don’t need a guide?”

It’s very true.

Everyone is fully capable of choosing their own destinations and mapping out their own walk or crawl based on their own interests. But thinking about this reminds me of why I like to pay for other people to do certain things for me—convenience and expertise. I can certainly shovel the walk but if a neighbourhood teen is going to stop by and offer to do it for me, much quicker and much better than I would’ve done, I’ll take him up on that offer. I could ask Mike to give me a massage because my back is sore, but wouldn’t it be much better and more effective if I had a professional massage therapist do it instead? Even in my own day-to-day profession, could people and businesses Google social media best practices to help guide how they do social media? Certainly they can. But they lose the lived experience, expertise and enthusiasm that I would bring if they hired me to help instead. 

This idea applies for these crawls as well, and that’s sort of my rambly lead-in to what I’ve decided I do want to start sharing regularly on my blog because I know it will be very useful for you readers, and ultimately mean more people exploring and enjoying the city:

LINDORK’S FOOD CRAWL ITINERARIES!

I hope these itineraries help locals and tourists alike plan out a fun, food-focused (and sometimes other activities) day—explore and enjoy!

I’ll be creating many of these itineraries over time for different neighbourhoods—and many different recommendations for the same neighbourhoods, for instance this Chinatown post lists just four spots, but there’s certainly many more great restaurants in the Chinatown area that could be on your crawl, which I’ll also guide/recommend in a later blog. I’ll focus on walking distance crawls. And I’ll also take this idea and apply it to different trips / travel guides I do as well (for instance, the 4 places to eat in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood guide I wrote).

I’ll still be hosting walks and crawls—for large groups, as well as private ones bookings (you can learn more about those services and hire me)—if you want that tailored, custom experience and service, but if you just want to do it on your own, and need a bit of guidance, I hope you find this blog series useful! 

And if you do use my suggested itineraries, I hope you’ll let me know!

Tag me in your social media posts, leave comments on my blog. And if you want even more ideas on where to eat and things to do, you can also sign up to my email newsletter, which I’m currently creating a plan for, and will ultimately give email subscribers even more useful and exclusive where to eat and what to do recommendations. 

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Okay so VERY long preamble done. Now I present: 

FOOD CRAWL: 4 PLACES TO EAT IN EDMONTON’S CHINATOWN

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Vietnamese Food
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1. Hong Kong Bakery 

10649 97 Street, Edmonton, AB

The Hong Kong Bakery has been serving sweet, Asian treats in its Chinatown location since 1978—over 40 years! The Hong Kong Bakery makes everything from scratch, in-house, daily. It smells *really* good in here.

The bakery makes some Western desserts but mostly offers Asian items like sesame seed balls, red bean desserts, tarts, and more. They are popular for fulfilling cake order too! These are typically sponge cakes and filled with fruit, that I generally call “Asian cake.” Growing up, my mom and dad would always say anything but this cake was too sweet. If you were celebrating, you needed this not-so-sweet, Asian cake. 

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Hong Kong Bakery Chinese Pastries
Hong Kong Bakery makes all their items from scratch, in-house, fresh daily!
2. Van Loc

10648 98 Street, Edmonton, AB

Van Loc is a tiny Vietnamese sandwich shop that serves the popular Vietnamese submarine sandwich known as ‘banh mi,’ served on a long baguette, filled with different meats, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, Jalapeños and pates. 

There are a few different Vietnamese sandwich shops in Edmonton but Van Loc is considered to be the best—only rivalled by Nhon Hoa.

Van Loc has been making these delicious banh mis since 1997. Owned and operated by a brother and his two sisters. The inside of the shop is very unassuming (though their exterior sign got a bit of a rebrand recently and it looks cool but doesn’t quite fit the casual vibe you’ll get inside lol). There’s a handful of seats. A dessert display counter featuring “che” (sweet dessert beverages and pudding-kind of dishes). And a TV always playing Paris by Night or a similar Vietnamese musical performance and variety show.

Van Loc’s sandwiches are cheap (though they have increased in prices over the years). For about $5-$6 you can get a fresh delicious sandwiches with filling of your choice. The assorted meat is likely most popular. Sometimes I am just feeling the pate-only. They do have beef, chicken, and vegetarian options as well!

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Vietnamese Banh Mi Submarine Sandwich Van Loc
Pick yourself up some delicious Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches from Van Loc in Chinatown!
3. Tea Bar Cafe

10640 98 Street, Edmonton, AB

Tea Bar Cafe is Edmonton’s original bubble tea spot. In recent years, bubble tea has surged in popularity with many new cafes and chains opening all over the city but Tea Bar was first! The cafe has been around for 20 years, first opened in 2000, when, at the time, if people wanted bubble tea they had to go to Vancouver! Most people didn’t even know what bubble tea was at that time.

So what is bubble tea? It’s a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. Your bubble tea usually features tea + different fruit flavours, milk, and sugar. Toppings, known as “pearls” or “bubbles” are chewy tapioca balls. You can also add or sub in popping boba pearls, fruit jelly, grass jelly, or agar jelly. Depending on how new/hip your bubble tea spot is, you might find even more toppings!

Tea Bar is a lounge, karaoke spot, as well as cafe, snacks/it is casual dining. They offer over 30 food items in addition to all their bubble tea choices.

The owner, Andy, said in an interview with Chinatown Dining Week that “Chinatown offers something that is different to other areas of the city, which makes it unique. There is a lot to try and explore in Edmonton’s Chinatown. I hope Chinatown keeps getting better so that it becomes more welcoming for Edmontonians and people visiting from outside of Edmonton.”

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Tea Bar Cafe Bubble Tea
Tea Bar Cafe is Edmonton's original bubble tea spot, first opening in 2000.
4. King Noodle House Pho Hoang

10613 97 Street, Edmonton, AB

Full disclosure: King Noodle House Pho Hoang is my parents’ Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant!

My family’s restaurant King Noodle House has been serving Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho) to Edmontonians for 22 years! The pho broth recipe has been passed down three generations. I worked at the restaurant most weekends of my life and am still there visiting and eating—of course—every week. 

Pho, Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pronounced “fah?”) is considered the national dish of Vietnam, and Vietnam’s most popular and recognizable dish outside of the country.

It is truly the perfect comfort food. A great balance of flavourful broth, noodles, and beef toppings—including thinly-sliced rare steak, well-done flank or brisket, beef balls, beef tendon, or beef tripe. (You can get a bowl with all of these toppings or just some or just one). My dad will tell you that pho is one of the most nutritious things you can eat. Many of my friends have also told me it makes a wonderful hangover meal (lol).

We’ve had customers tell us they drive from the outer edges of Edmonton to have our soup. Others, coming in from Calgary or even Vancouver, say they must stop for our soup. Even people who have lived or travelled to Vietnam and back tell us our pho is unlike any other they’ve had. 

(I’m taking the secret recipe with me to the grave! lol)

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup
Obviously I'm biased but I think my parent's Vietnamese pho is the very best.

So there’s 4 spots you can visit on a walking distance Food Crawl of Edmonton’s Chinatown.

It really is only 4 of many (more blog post / itinerary crawl entries to come!)

A good thing to know about Chinatown: you should probably carry cash with you.

Many of the businesses are cash only. 

Food Crawl - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton Chinatown - Vietnamese Food
Share my blog: Food Crawl Itinerary - 4 Places to Eat in Edmonton's Chinatown

Where are your favourite Chinatown spots? 

If you need another way to easily introduce yourself to the neighbourhood’s cuisine, or to reintroduce yourself, be sure to check out Edmonton Chinatown Dining Week, which takes place every January! 

The 2020 edition of Chinatown Dining Week runs January 9-19, 2020.

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