Dished Neighbourhood Gems: Calgary's Chinatown

Feb 7 2023, 9:01 pm

Calgary is home to some amazing gems, longstanding classics, and under-the-radar establishments when it comes to stellar food and beverage. 

We’re doing the digging for you by highlighting the best local destinations to check out in each neighbourhood (if you haven’t already).

Here are our Dished Neighbourhood Gems for Calgary’s Chinatown.

Most cities have a Chinatown, or at least the best ones do. They are often hubs for specialty stores, grocers, and restaurants and the one in Calgary is no different.

In Calgary, that’s the community of Chinatown, a celebration of Chinese culture, art, people, food, and more.

This neighbourhood is known for its quiet streets of diverse businesses, which makes it a great place to explore and discover hidden gems.

Calgary has iconic streets like Stephen Avenue, mostly made up of chain restaurants (nothing wrong with that, just saying), or 17th, which seems to change by day (easygoing, friendly) and night (vibrant, busy), but it’s this area, just south of the Centre Street Bridge crossing the Bow River, that feels like one of the Calgary places with the strongest identity.

From Vietnamese sub spots to exceptional dim sum places to authentic Chinese restaurants, deciding where to eat when here can be a very difficult choice.

Here are some of our favourite food and drink gems in Calgary’s Chinatown.

Vietnamese speakeasy: Paper Lantern

 

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Paper Lantern is one of Calgary’s true speakeasies.

It never feels like a gimmick and it never feels like it’s hiding in plain sight.

Paper Lantern is just confident enough in what it offers to know that people will eventually find it, show others, and keep coming back. This Vietnamese-inspired cocktail bar is located in YYC’s Chinatown at 115 2nd Avenue SE. With no signs or directions, it can be slightly difficult finding your way in. Just head down the stairs and poke your head around.

Address: 115 2nd Avenue SE Basement, Calgary

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KFC: WOW Chicken

 

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There are several WOW Chicken locations in Calgary (four to be exact), and luckily Chinatown has one of them. Korean fried chicken is SO popular, and for good reason — it’s delicious. WOW has seasoned, coated, and original recipe combos to choose from. It’s a simple menu, but an amazing one.

Address: 128 2nd Avenue SE #113, Calgary

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Late night: U & Me

This modest Chinese eatery specializes in Cantonese cuisine, especially dim sum. It’s also open from 9 am to 4 am every single day for some Chinese breakfast or exceptional late-night eats. The menu even has some specialty congee dishes, a tasty type of rice porridge.

YYC diners adore this restaurant so make sure to check it out.

Address: 233 Centre Street SW, Calgary

Low profile: Han’s Restaurant

This classic hole-in-the-wall Chinese spot has a menu with all of the classics done the right way. Some of the most popular dishes here include mapo tofu with shredded pork, fried green beans, and eggplant in spicy sauce.

Address: 303 Centre Street S Unit 116, Calgary

Mall eats: Polar Bear Kitchen

Another low-key spot, this popular restaurant is located inside the Dragon City Mall. You can try the authentic classics here, but also some unique options like peach resin milk, fried mussels, and the salty shredded chicken and fish ball soup.

Polar Bear Kitchen really is a place you need to know about or be told about… and now you know!

Address: 328 Centre Street S Unit 170, Calgary

Speedy sushi: Point Sushi

This is one of the most fun dining experiences you can have in Calgary’s Chinatown, and the entire city for that matter.

This is Calgary’s first bullet train sushi bar restaurant, where guests simply enter their orders into a tableside tablet and, once it’s ready, the food rips straight to your table at bullet speed.

This also allows you to make smaller orders at a time without feeling like you’re bothering anyone, especially since it gets to you so fast. Eat as you go!

Address: 116 2nd Avenue SW, Calgary

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Brazilian BBQ: Minas Brazilian Steakhouse

Obviously, this is not an Asian restaurant, but this Brazilian steakhouse offers an interactive dining experience that’s unlike any other in YYC.

Charred meats and fruit are carved right at your table, and a buffet table stands in the middle for salads, soups, and more.

Address: 136 2nd Street SW, Calgary

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Bubble tea: Pearl House Cafe

Another Dragon City Mall spot, Pearl House Cafe is a hugely popular spot for bubble tea in Calgary’s Chinatown. Serving hot, fruity, and cold beverages, this is a cafe with all types of fun and unique beverages.

Address: 328 Centre Street S, Calgary

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Old world: Silver Dragon Restaurant

One of Calgary’s most famous Chinese restaurants (especially since Silver Inn and Golden Inn closed), Silver Dragon is a family-owned spot that’s been open in YYC since 1966.

Specializing in Cantonese and Sichuan recipes, this is a tried, tested, and adored spot that every Calgarian and visitor needs to check out.

Address: 106 3rd Avenue SE, Calgary

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If you have a neighbourhood gem in or around the city that you want to shine a spotlight on, let us know at [email protected] 

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