It was a hot humid Sunday afternoon as I hit the streets of Winnipeg looking for a good meal. As I often do, I set out in my Jeep with an empty belly and an open mind. This day, hearing rumours of a street party in Winnipeg’s Chinatown, my belly and mind agreed on one thing. Dim Sum.
As I approached the Downtown area I started catching glimpses of families walking towards Chinatown. As promised the streets were blocked off and vendors were setting up their wares. A main stage area graced the centre of one intersection and people milled about waiting for the activities to start.
The purpose of my journey however was a little further up. Dim Sum Garden, a highly regarded Cantonese eatery was open and ready to fill my now growling stomach. The exterior of the restaurant is typical for the area of town, laying just a block off Main Street the area was once the night-time hangout for various underworld types and the men that preyed upon them.
However like many things in this 100 year old Chinese district, looks often are deceiving. Once inside the the eatery opens up into a multi-level dining palace. Normally on slow weekdays the public are confined to the sizable main floor area of the dining hall. But on special event days and weekends the upper areas are opened to more than double the space.
Food is dispensed in traditional Dim Sum method, women pushing carts laden with wicker baskets containing all sorts of wondrous delights. To the western palate every bite seems to open up a veritable Pandora’s box of flavour. I must admit that I only just recently caught the Dim Sum bug. My enlightened cousin dragged me kicking and screaming to this very establishment only a few months prior.
I dined on a wonderfully sticky balls of sweetened rice wrapped tightly in thick leaves and steamed to perfection. Pork dumplings and lightly fried pieces of calamari also made an appearance on my table. To me the entire concept of sit-down and people will pass by offering tender morsels until you say “Stop, enough already. I give.” is just a delight beyond compare. Succulent grilled pieces of chicken flesh, batter fried shrimp done the way they should be, more meat than batter! Is there a finer way to spend a Sunday afternoon? If so I haven’t found it yet.
Finishing my lunch with a pot of green tea seemed appropriate. I paid the modest bill, finding to my luck that I happened in at happy hour. A wander around the now bustling china town area seemed the thing to do.
I thought to myself as I wandered if I would pay as much attention to my adopted city if I stopped writing about its wonders. It made me feel a traveller mere kilometres from my home. These little festivals that take the city by storm if nothing else serve to drag the remaining populace out into the streets they would otherwise avoid. Chinatown at night is not an area that one would consider exactly safe, even though great steps have taken place to clean the area. Many residential hotels still dot the landscape here and substance abuse is common.
I walked warmed by the sun and the hospitality of the Chinese people that work and live in this part of town. For that I must bow deeply to that honourable meal and experience I had with them today.