The Old Chinatown and Its Memories

Growing up in Strathcona Vancouver in the late 70s, early 80s, I spent a lot of my time in Chinatown with my family (I would love to connect with those that went to school in the Strathcona area around that time).  Nowadays, I go about once a month if need to.  I really miss the old Chinatown because of the memories.  The Chinatown before Sun Yat Sen, Chinatown mall, HSBC building was built.

Hon’s – it was not where it is today.  It was still in Chinatown but this is where  my memory fail me.  I remember it’s on Main as well as a couple stores down from its current location.   Was it at both locations or was it another restaurant I was thinking of? Seats were mostly counter and their menu is not as extensive as today.  My mom would take me there for black sesame dessert.

Dim Sum – so many old timers… Pak Lok, Diamond something (June Seck Lau) were the hot spots.  The rice roll push carts were the best where you can watch the lady pan fry your rice roll by your table.

Wing On Photo Finishing – this was a family business.  The owners’ kids were my classmates and this was the place to have your photos developed back then.

Wah Kiu Jewellers – the jewellery store is still around keeping the same name but at a different location since they’ve changed owners.  They used to be where the current HSBC building is.  My mom would go in and shoot the breeze with the owners and the owners would let me play with their jade.  They used to have a corner table where their Si Fu would work and I would watch him to kill time.

Yuen Fung supermarket – this wasn’t quite a supermarket but in the 80s, it was one of the largest grocery shops in Chinatown.  It’s located in the heart of Pender.  My fondest memory was the machine at the front that dispenses plastic eggs with toys inside.  It’s not just a twist and turn machine.  It was a lot bigger and it actually has a chicken on it that goes Bok Bok Bok loudly as it turns while dispensing a large plastic egg.  To me, that was the trademark of Yuen Fung as I’ve never seen it elsewhere.  My dad used to park in front of Yuen Fung waiting for my mom to do her grocery shopping.  I remember playing

The Supermarket beneath the current Hons in Chinatown – I forgot what the name was, but there was a big supermarket in the basement of Hons.  But it wasn’t very popular as it closed down sometime in the 90s.  I spent most of my time and quarters there in the early 90s when Street Fighter first came out . Another supermarket that didn’t last very long was the one in the building at the south-west corner of Keefer and Main (where the casino is).

Oriental Dragon – I discovered this shop when I was a bit older, around 10 years old.  It was near the Chinese Cultural Centre where I took chinese painting every Saturday with Mr. Wu.  One time, my parents were late picking me up and I wandered into their store to look at stuff.  It was a Sanrio world.  But I remember the owners always watched the kids as if all of us were there to steal.  I think there’s a similar shop in the same location, not sure if it’s the same name, but it sells overpriced crap… well, which is pretty much what the Hello Kitty stuff is anyway.

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Posted on January 21, 2011, in Vancouver is Home and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. nice post Mo!
    I grew up in the 60’s in the Strathcona area!
    I have many memories of Chinatown too.
    The original Hon’s was on Main between Pender and Keefer…quite close to were the original Wah Kiu Jewelers set up their first shop.

    Yuen Foong was on Pender Street, not Keefer, between Gore and Main. I spent a lot of time there too. My uncle was the Herbal Medicine Pharmacist.

    • Thanks for catching that, gonna fix it! When I was younger, I had trouble remembering Keefer and Pender (I called it chinatown street 1 or 2 since there are only 2 main streets)… looks like I’m still having trouble now…

  2. oops didn’t proofread…should be
    close to where the original……

  3. Yes I spent most of my childhood in Chinatown during the 70s & 80s too as my parents had a shop on Pender Street and I had to attend chinese school which is located upstairs by what used to be the BC Royal Cafe. They had the most awesome butterhorns and deep fried lotus rice balls. I also miss the old Marco Polo restaurant that had the coolest vibe and the almond cookies from the old Wo Fat Bakery. I have never had one that came close to theirs which had an amazing sandy texture.

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