The 21st Century Comes to Chinatown


369 Spadina Avenue
Dinner for two with all taxes, tip and soda: $50

I have a special place in my heart for Chinatown. Particularly on hot summer nights when the smell of black bean sauce, fryer grease, half dead crabs and that special rotting garbage smell of durian all combine to remind me of my youth. Twenty years ago, I wandered these streets, young, naive and fresh off the plane from the land of pork chops and two overcooked veg. Living in Chinatown was a huge culture shock, and my roommates and I delighted in wandering Spadina and Dundas West, watching the restaurant ladies pushing bins of raw chicken feet from the many slaughterhouses, and bringing home odd fruits or noodles, seeking guidance from our neighbour Mei Ling on what to do with the stuff.

We managed to eat at a lot of restaurants along the Spadina strip as well. The fluorescent lights and plastic table cloths were de rigeur at all of these joints, and not much has changed. The food is always cheap and usually good, but ambiance is generally low on the list in this part of town. Which is why I was so surprised by E-Pan.

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