G I LC H R I ST

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

Next week, Chi­na­town rings in the year 4712 — the Year of the Horse — on the Chi­nese cal­en­dar. There will be loads of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties and big din­ners through­out the weekend and many of them will be held in newly ren­o­vated restau­rants through­out the down­town com­mu­nity. Chi­na­town is back on its feet fol­low­ing last June’s flood and many of its shops and restau­rants are brighter and shinier than ever.

Dur­ing the flood, cen­tury-old base­ments filled with wa­ter as 2nd Av­enue S.E. be­came part of the Bow River. Busi­nesses were knocked out for weeks or months. Even restau­rants that weren’t di­rectly af­fected lost power for days, forc­ing them to re­move all food and bev­er­ages from their busi­nesses. Some had insurance, oth­ers not. Re­build­ing has been slow and a num­ber of places re­main closed while ren­o­va­tions con­tinue.

But the flood has also spurred a re­birth in Chi­na­town. Be­fore the flood, many of the area’s restau­ra­teurs who opened their busi­nesses dur­ing the 1970s’ and 1980s’ boom had been think­ing of re­tire­ment. So in the past few months, own­er­ship changes have seen a younger gen­er­a­tion tak­ing over some places while oth­ers have sold to new en­trepreneur­s from main­land China and Hong Kong. And with new own­ers come new ideas and dif­fer­ent kinds of foods.

One place that’s been ahead of the curve on change is Cal­gary Court at 119 2nd Av­enue S.E. (403264-7890). A Hong Kong-style restau­rant, Cal­gary Court has been serv­ing mod­ern Hong Kong food for a few years, stray­ing from the clas­sic Can­tonese style of Chi­na­town.

But when the Bow filled Cal­gary Court’s base­ment, it was out of op­er­a­tion for months. Now open again, Cal­gary Court will greet New Year’s cus­tomers with a bright new din­ing room lit with LED lights, what ex­ec­u­tive chef Paul Yung calls “fancy” new post-flood bath­rooms and a menu of both tra­di­tional and mod­ern Hong Kong dishes.

Yung de­scribes mod­ern Hong Kong cui­sine as a col­lec­tion of pan-Chi­nese flavours and styles com­bined with western influences. So you’ll find a baked pork chop in tomato sauce on spaghetti. But in­stead of an Ital­ianstyle tomato sauce, he in­fuses his with Chi­nese spices and at the same time mar­i­nates the pork chop in veg­etable juices and red bean paste. Other dishes are de­scribed as com­ing in a “Por­tuguese” sauce, a creamy, mildly spiced sauce from the for­mer Por­tuguese colony of Ma­cau.

For a New Year feast at For­bid­den City (999 36th Street N.E.), Yung’s menu will show­case dishes rep­re­sent­ing wealth, like the “pros­per­ous abalone com­bi­na­tion” and long life such as the fried noo­dles with crab roe. From the con­tem­po­rary side of Hong Kong there’ll be deep-fried mahi mahi and ma­cadamia nuts with a cham­pagne cream sauce and baked free-range chicken stuffed with bar­ley and truf­fles. Yung pulls flavours and ideas from all over the world to cre­ate his dishes.

Cal­gary Court and For­bid­den City are two of seven lo­cal restau­rants in an in­ter­na­tional group called Taste of Asia. (Some of the oth­ers are Mi­sai, T. Pot and Peb­ble Street.) Taste of Asia also owns about 30 more restau­rants in Hong Kong. Yung is ex­ec­u­tive chef of the en­tire group and trav­els fre­quently back to his home­town of Hong Kong, bring­ing fresh ideas back to Cal­gary.

Thi Thi, one of Chi­na­town’s great Viet­namese sub­ma­rine sand­wich shops, is also back in busi­ness. At 209 1st Street S.E. (403-265-5452), the ground-floor take­out cafe filled with wa­ter and river sludge last June. So when things dried out, own­ers Hoa Nguyen, Hoa Tran and Binh Nguyen tore ev­ery­thing out. Closed for a cou­ple of months, Thi Thi re­opened with ev­ery­thing new from elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing to floor­ing and kitchen equip­ment. It looks bet­ter than it ever has and the subs are just as good.

Mean­while, Rosetta and Joyce Chan’s Try Again Bev­er­age House at 111 3rd Av­enue S.E. (403234-0666) weath­ered the flood with­out dam­age, the wa­ter stop­ping just a few doors away from their base­ment bub­ble tea shop.

The Chans have been brew­ing bub­ble teas in Cal­gary for over 14 years and are lo­cal pioneers in the tapi­oca pearl and fresh fruitjuice busi­ness. Their shop was closed for a cou­ple of weeks as Chi­na­town waited for elec­tric­ity to come back on. Then they had a few tough months while cus­tomers, un­sure whether Try Again and other Chi­na­town busi­nesses were open, slowly re­turned.

But now with more busi­nesses open­ing and the Year of the Horse upon us, Chi­na­town is hop­ing to “gal­lop into pros­per­ity” in the New Year.

RESTAU­RANT GUIDE TO

AND BE­YOND IS AVAIL-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.