In most major North American cities, there’s a neighborhood colloquially or officially known as Chinatown. When immigrants from China and other parts of Asia were coming to the continent en masse around the turn of the century, they banded together to create ethnic enclaves – both out of a desire to surround themselves with familiar cultural elements and because they were often not allowed to live in more desirable parts of the city.
They made the best of the situation, founding business that catered both to other Chinese as well as to their new European-descended neighbors. Left out of more legitimate areas of the economy, black markets also thrived in areas like gambling and opium.
As new waves of Asians immigrate to North America and the children and grandchildren of previous immigrant generations come of age in a new country, Chinatowns have changed. As more wealthy immigrants moved in the 80’s and 90’s, they preferred palatial estates in the suburbs to the urban Chinatown setting. Suburbs like Monterrey Park in Los Angeles sprung up to cater to these new waves and the Chinatowns they left behind became more focused on tourism. Toronto has five suburban areas with large Asian populations.
In Toronto’s old Chinatown, the Fung family has owned Xam Yu Seafood for generations. The restaurant specializes in a style of seafood from the Canton region of China, a peninsula around Hong Kong on the southern coast of the country. More garlicky than peppery and with an abundance of shellfish and mollusks, the restaurant has a loyal clientele that has allowed them to stay true to the original cuisine without having to dumb it down for the masses. Stir fried lobster is both a sight to see and an amazing meal.