Chinatown insider Jordan Eng takes us to his favourite spots in one of Vancouver’s trendiest areas.
Jordan Eng knows Chinatown inside out. As vice-president of Success Realty and Insurance, founded by his parents in the ’60s, he works from an office on Keefer Street in the heart of Chinatown. He is also actively involved in the community as vice-president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association, co-chair of the Chinatown Festival and past chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee. Here are his suggestions for five cheap, free or worth-it things to do, see or buy in a new Chinatown that blends trendiness with tradition.
Jordan Eng’s Fave Five
FEAST your eyes on the Battersby Howat-designed Keefer Bar, a restoration of a heritage building that blends old with new (pictured above). Retro paintings of Shanghai at the top of the stairs are by Doug Coupland. The apothecary-style cocktails are meant to soothe ailments and balance mood. The ingredients for these and the small plates all come from Chinatown’s markets and herbalists. 135 Keefer Street, 604-688-1961, www.thekeeferbar.com
ENJOY coconut cocktail buns and barbecue pork buns from The Keefer Bakery. Now located on East Georgia, it is one of the best bakeries in Chinatown. 211 Georgia Street East, 604-685-2117
SIP at Ten Ren Tea, the Starbucks of Asia, filled with all kinds of reasonably priced black, white, green and herbal teas in bags, loose or in beautiful gift packages. If you are overwhelmed by the choice, staff will provide recommendations and a sample cup to try. 550 Main Street, 604-684-1566, www.tenren.com.
BUY authentic parmesan cheese at Tosi & Co. One of the oldest shops in Chinatown, it has hardly changed since it opened in 1906. Angelo Tosi imports organic parmesan from Salsomaggiore, just north of Parma, and sells it for about $2.50 per 100 grams. While you’re there, check out the pastas, pestos and tinned tomatoes imported from Naples. Press the button beside the door to get buzzed in. 624 Main Street, 604-681-5740
DRINK at Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, owned by former Chambar bartender Tannis Ling. Recom- mended by The New York Times and voted one of EnRoute magazine’s 10 best new restaurants in Canada in 2010, this bohemian chic restaurant is a favourite with the film-making crowd. 153 Keefer, www.bao-bei.ca
Photos, top to bottom: Keefer Bar by Ed White Photography courtesy Battersby Howat; Mercedes Grant, Bao Bei