Mississauga Chinese Centre ~ Ontario Canada
Sino Mall, Dim Sum, West 88, Chinese supermarkets
Mississauga Chinese Centre: The Sino Mall, Chinese supermarket, Royal Dragon dim sum restaurant, and West 88 (Vietnamese) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, at the Missisauga Chinese Centre make this a very popular place to visit, and a great day trip in the Toronto to Niagara area.
A Taste of Hong Kong in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Years before I ever set foot in China, I was intrigued by the complex face it showed the world, a face both exotic and beautiful yet faintly dangerous, the 'Bad Boy' in the 'mysterious Orient', its peoples 'inscrutable'.
This Yin-Yang face lured me to its shores, and to Hong Kong, with some trepidation but much excitement.And to my delight, I discovered a city that's beguiling and quite wonderful, and one I look forward to visiting again and again, to explore its many islands, admire the harbour views from Victoria Peak and ride the Star ferries past the waterfront parks.
And yes, to shop at its glittering malls and crowded market stalls, on streets friendly and oddly familiar. But when I can't travel, I can get a taste of China right here at home.
Chinese Centre On Dundas Street East at Cawthra Road Mississauga ON
Like at the Mississauga Chinese Centre on Dundas Street West, near Cawthra Road (see googlemap).
When the Mississauga Chinese Centre opened in 1987, its dramatic replicas of traditional Chinese structures -- a main entrance gateway, Nine-Dragon Wall, Soo Chow Garden, covered walkway and Great Wall Fortress -- added a tourist attraction to the otherwise predictable suburban landscape.
But it wasn't until I had been to Hong Kong that I realized they, too, reflect a major part of Hong Kong, and Chinese, culture.
Sino Mall at Mississauga Chinese Centre Like Hong Kong markets
The shops in the Centre's Sino Mall offer not only the usual touristy items -- Chinese motif pictures and vases, figurines and linens -- but also everyday housewares, toiletries and foodstuffs that the Asian market demands.
In the cramped interior of one of the dozen or so storefronts, many with goods spilling onto tables in the court itself, I spied some silk tote bags and purses that were duplicates of the ones I had bought in Hong Kong, thinking they were unique mementoes.
Why had I bothered lugging them home to Canada? Had I known my own city better, I could have bought them here.
Food court in Sino Mall at Mississauga Chinese Centre
And so it went, this voyage of discovery. A large, smartly decorated restaurant serving dim sum all day long, gift shops selling jewel-like cloisonne vases and jade pendants, and furniture shops chock full of inlaid gleaming woods and embroidered art prints.
"They are playing Chinese chess," says Billy Lau, property manager for the centre, as I tell him my tale about how these stores crammed to the rafters with aisles so narrow you have to walk sideways and merchants who know every item in stock and offer 2-for-1 deals and discounts before you've even looked around make me feel like I am in China.
The centre serves a similar demographic from the local community, he says, as well as a wider one, with tour buses from New York state, and Niagara Falls and further afield stopping here so passengers can stock up with goods unavailable at home.
Mississauga Chinese Centre designated tourism area
"This is an official tourism area," he says, so the Centre is open most days year round, and celebrates special events in the Chinese calendar. (Early birds take note -- most shops open at 11 a.m.)
Does Lau ever dine at any of Mississauga's many Chinese buffets?
"They serve Canadian style Chinese food," he says. "We prefer Chinese style food."
And Hong Kong's gleaming jewellery stores and designer clothing shops don't have a Mississauga counterpart, Lau says, because those high-end shops need a much larger market to be economically viable.
As the senior marketing executive for the Hong Kong Tourism Board in Toronto, Lui travels to Hong Kong several times each year.
Lui points out the board's web site, Discover Hong Kong, has an entire section devoted to shopping.
Hong Kong, China style grocery shopping in Mississauga
Lui comes to Mississauga to shop for food, at a store that caters to the Asian community, as well as to canny Westerners who know a good deal when they see one.
"I always shop for Chinese groceries at Sun Hing Supermarket -- officially known as H & H Oriental Food & Hardware Centre -- located in the Golden Shopping Mall at 1177 Central Parkway West near Burnhamthorpe," says Lui.
"H & H was the largest Asian supermarket in Mississauga, until T & T Supermarket opened on Central Parkway, near Mavis Road."
If you're looking for sushi bowls, tea pots, mugs with lids or Melmac dinnerware for the cottage, then this is the place to come.
Other 'Chinese shopping ops' can be found at Ying Ngai Co. Ltd., at 1310 Dundas East. The large showroom is filled with lacquered rosewood furniture, standing screens, porcelain dinnerware, cutlery and home decor.
Authentic Chinese Restaurants don't have buffets : Traditonal Foods Only
All this shopping works up an appetite, so keeping with the theme of authentic Chinese, I bypass the buffet restaurants and head for the Perfect Kitchen on Ridgeway.
Though not the same 'star' rating as the Golden Bauhinia Restaurant in the Hong Kong Convention Centre, or the Chinese New Year's banquet served at Toronto's Metropolitan Hotel, its pleasant decor and excellent menu fill the bill nicely.
Macey's clientele -- largely Asian -- is scattered throughout a large room of simple tables and chairs and not much else, its basic decor belying the excellent variety and tastiness of its dishes.
Unlike westernized Chinese buffets, each dish has distinct taste, and is a piping hot demonstration of the Cantonese penchant for very fresh foods.
In ocean-challenged Ontario Canada, it's not likely I'll ever be able to select my entree from tiers of colourful tanks brimming with live crabs, lobsters and fish as I did at Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant in Hong Kong's New Territories Sai Kung.
Nor will I lose myself in the vibrant bolts of silks and satins, like in Tsim Sha Tsui. So far, I haven't seen fortune tellers seated at card tables in city parks, eager to predict my future, or any funiculars, like the one at Victoria Peak.
But for sampling a bit of Hong Kong close to home, Mississauga has a fine Tasting Menu.
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