Your Key To Vancouver’s Trendy Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown is undergoing a transition – a crossroad where the past meets the present and tradition intersects modernity. As many old businesses retire or move out to the suburbs, new businesses bring refreshing and exciting opportunities to this area. It’s a favourite neighbourhood of mine to explore, as I always come across new shops and discover new experiences.

A Settlement of Chinese Labourers
Vancouver’s Chinatown, with its rich and colourful history, grew out of a settlement of Chinese labourers brought over by the CP Rail Company in the late 1800’s to complete the final treacherous part of building the railroad across western Canada. Chinatown was the only place in those days where these sojourners could find housing and community support. As the years passed, this rough and tumble neighbourhood expanded and evolved into a prosperous, vibrant gathering place for Vancouver’s ever growing Chinese population. Chinatown was jammed with shops, restaurants and nightclubs from the 1940's to the 1970's, and the neighbourhood continued to be a community hub until well into the late 1980's.


Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie: Traditional flavours expressed by an inspiring modern approach are the secret to Bao Bei’s success. The intimate dining room reminiscent of a Chinese grandmother’s parlor filled with old family photos and memories is cozy and inviting. Be sure to try the ShaoBing –sesame seed flatbread filled with cumin lamb sirloin and pickled red onions as well as the Kick Ass House Fried Rice.

Kissa Tanto: Brought to you by Tanis Ling and Joel Watanabe of Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto is a unique take on subtle Japanese flavours intensified by Italian culinary sensibilities. Interesting combination to try: tortellini with dashi and seaweed, or chawan mushi (egg custard) with parmesan cheese. Go in with an open mind...

Ramen Butcher: Ramen noodles are the trend these days in Vancouver and Ramen Butcher is quickly gaining a loyal following. From the rich tonkotsu broth, everything is handmade daily including the noodles, gyozas and rice bowls.

New Town Bakery & Restaurant: This family run bakery and café has been serving the community since 1980. Always a big line-up, be sure to get there early for the award winning Apple Tarts, BBQ Pork and Steamed Chicken Buns. Open daily from 6:30am, it’s the perfect place for Chinese breakfast.

Phnom Penh: One of Vancouver’s favourite traditional eateries of Chinatown serving delicious Cambodian/Vietnamese dishes. Try their claim to fame deep fried chicken wings with lime pepper dipping sauce, as well as the Marinated Butter Beef and Filet Beef Luc Lac with Egg on Rice. There is usually a line to get in and you might have to share a table, but the food is well worth the wait.


Matchstick Coffee:  With an emphasis on hand crafted and single origin coffee beverages, this artisanal coffee bar roasts their own coffee and bakes  their own breads.  Have a seat by the window, sip your coffee and watch the world go by.

The Keefer Bar:  One of my favourite bars in the city, The Keefer Bar evokes the atmosphere of a Chinese apothecary shop and an opium den.  Each unique cocktail is concocted with house-made bitters, herbs and teas with medicinal properties to soothe and balance the body’s condition.

Juniper:  As the name suggests, Juniper’s bar programme features a revolving selection of curated gin and tonics in addition to small batch spirits and a thoughtful list of wines from vineyards in the Cascadia region.


Treasure Green Tea Company:  As the first authentic Chinese tea shop in Vancouver (est. 1981), Treasure Green offers a wide selection of high quality premium teas sourced directly from reputable Chinese tea farms.  Owner, Ms. Olivia Cheung, a second generation Tea Master, is knowledgeable and offers classes in tea making and tea tasting.

Duchesse Vintage and Such:  A unique vintage lifestyle boutique offering a mesmerizing selection of clothing, accessories and curated home furnishings from animal skulls, to antique dolls, classic brooches and dresses.

The Modern Bartender:  Vancouver’s first specialty shop for all things mixology related including over 100 flavours of Bitters, mixing and drinking glass wares, aging barrels, books, tools, etc.  Looking to set up a vintage Tiki bar?  Well, here is where you need to be.


Historical Chinatown Tours: There is nothing more special than being on a guided walking tour by a Chinatown historian. Ms. Judy Lam-Maxwell’s tour is informational and insightful and she will take you into some very unique venues and landmarks, such as clan associations, the Sam Kee building (world’s narrowest office building), as well as Modernize Tailors, still operated by the same family since 1913.

Rennie Collection at Wing Sang: Focussing on the themes of identity, social injustice and appropriation, Rennie Gallery houses one of the largest contemporary art collections in Canada featuring both established and emerging artists. The Gallery is located in the historical Wing Sang Building which took collector, Mr. Bob Rennie, four years to renovate and refurbish before turning it into his private gallery. Limited complimentary guided tours available to the public - please contact your concierge for reservations.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: From the pebbles in the footpath to the tiles on the roof, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is an authentic representation of a scholar’s residence in Ming Dynasty China when the garden tradition was at its peak. Combining the four design elements of rocks, water, plants and architecture, the Garden is a reflection of the Taoist principle of creating harmony by balancing the opposing nature of Ying and Yang forces.

Published February 2018

Meet the Author
Shelley Hayashi
Shelley Hayashi

Concierge. Wine enthusiast. Local expert on where to dine, shop and explore.

Born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada at a young age, Shelley was raised in a very traditional Chinese family that valued diligence, loyalty and respect. After graduating with a Business Management Diploma from Langara College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Japanese Studies from the University of British Columbia, Shelley found her calling as a Concierge at the Pan Pacific Hotel where she has been since 1989. 27 years later, Shelley continues her passion for sharing her beautiful city with visitors and showcasing everything uniquely Vancouver. In her spare time, Shelley seeks out new restaurants, interesting shops and places to explore locally, as well as travelling to other destinations, learning about different countries, peoples and cultures. In addition, Shelley takes pleasure in discovering the world of wine and is currently working towards her WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advance Certification.

Follow Shelley on Twitter and Instagram.

Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel

An iconic landmark of quality and distinction, the award winning Pan Pacific Vancouver enjoys an privileged position atop Canada Place, home to the Vancouver Convention Centre. Featuring floor to ceiling windows with stunning views of Vancouver’s magnificent North Shore Mountains, Coal Harbour and city skylines, the hotel’s sleek, contemporary design, beautifully complemented throughout with Birdseye maple, creates a warm and inviting environment. The lobby’s four storey atrium provides natural light and breathtaking views of the harbour and mountains.

Just steps away from shopping, attractions, restaurants, public transit and the Canada Line to Vancouver International Airport, the Pan Pacific Vancouver shares this accessible location with the Cruise Ship Terminal, making it an ideal choice for pre or post cruise stays. All 503 exquisitely appointed guestrooms and suites are accented with the same Birdseye Maple and feature views of the harbour, mountains or city, pillow-top beds, spacious work desks, impressive floor to ceiling windows, luxury linens, and well appointed bathrooms with high quality bathroom amenities.

Guest services include 24 hour in-room dining, Concierge and business centre with internet. Other services and amenities include Oceans 999 Restaurant and Coal Harbour Bar, Fitness Centre, Spa Utopia Health & Wellness Centre and a roof top outdoor saltwater swimming pool and hot tub – all options to enjoy during your stay.

If you wish to stay at the Pan Pacific Vancouver and or have any questions, please email Shelley.

Ph: +604 662 8111

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