Ottawa Chinatown

A necessary venture, exploring what I thought to be very limited options, to find all foods Asian so that I don’t have to be dying of Asian food withdrawal by the end of first term, I walked the entire length of Ottawa’s Chinatown and went into just about every single grocery store (even the non-oriental ones) and peered through dirty glass windows at various menus.

Despite the small size of it in comparison to lets say Toronto, or even Montreal for that matter, spanning along Somerset beginning a couple blocks east of Bronson and ending at Bayswater with the recently opened 168 Chinese chain market, it had some very promising prospects. There was one Latin-American store, a couple of Lebanese, an Indian, 3-4 Vietnamese and around 3 Chinese grocery stores. There was a couple of sushi restaurants, a couple of Japanese/Korean restaurants and a mix of several Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants.

The largest of the Chinese grocers was Kowlin, complete with live fish, a long meat display and aisles and aisles of packaged food stuffs. Compared to Montreal, a lot more like what I’m used to back home with the 99 Ranch Markets that sprawled across Southern California.

Knowing that I have somewhere I can satisfy my pickled veggie preserves cravings has me grateful.

168 is cleaner by comparison, but not as large and seems to be a lot less busy, or maybe that’s because of its newness?

Vietnamese grocers all seemed to have the same kind of stuff, and also had the same prepared ready-to-eat foods, like grass jelly drinks, banh mi’s and buns.

The indian grocer had a very large variety of ready to eat curries, pakoras, samosas (fried or baked) and dosas. Small, but half of the store was the display for their sweets and samosas.

What was nice to find was a middle eastern bakery, with homemade baba ghanoush, hummus, and various types of pita, white, wheat and organic. A long list of various other items were posted on a rectangular board behind the display counter, this is a must-visit of me once I move to my apartment. The Lebanese grocer next door has some of the cheapest dates I have seen so far, and some other types of desserts next to the cash.

You know what though, what made it EVEN better, were the prices of Pho, a couple of restaurants just as cheap as back home J There were a couple restaurants that offered $5 pho during certain “happy hour” times!

EVEN EVEN better? A small northern food shop specializing in selling frozen buns and dumplings at about $8 a bag (and you get a lot of them too!).

Albeit small (one street stretching over 9 blocks), it has enough for me to at least tide over my homesickness until I go back to California, or maybe if I’m lucky, I might find some hidden gems that’ll at least get close to Cali Asian food.

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