My memory space captures a day in Chinatown in 2020. The wind was blustery, the sun was sharp, the sky was very blue. A day in November at Spadina and Dundas. Many longtime restaurants had closed. I wanted to create a space that captured the chill, the noise and the anonymity. Spadina and Dundas holds memories for me long before I lived in Toronto. The wide expanse of Spadina and the map of street car tracks set against the blue sky. An iconic memory of the city. Even more iconic than the CN tower for some reason. The Dragon Mall, a place to drop off mail and get Juicy soup dumplings and scallion pancakes. I worked for a couple years in Kensington Market and favoured lunches would be dumplings, or a quick bánh mì.
Every Sunday when I was a teenager we would go for dim sum in Ottawa. The green marble restaurant, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves and bbq pork buns were my favourite, still are. Chinatown is deeply wrapped up in food memories, but also hold very strong “place” memories for me. Watching basketball or bike polo in the park in New York’s Chinatown. Or the early morning Tai Chi ladies, slowly moving their bodies with intention. And buying multiple pairs of slippers for the summer that would inevitably get eaten whole by the dirty NYC streets. Vanessa’s Dumpling on Eldridge for their $1.50 duck sandwiches. Or Montreal’s Chinatown separating neighbourhoods but connecting the city; Xiaolongbao and hand pulled noodles, meeting friends with bikes for the never ending not-very-good buffet along De La Gauch. Toronto’s Chinatown is still solidifying those memories, but Spadina and Dundas is an intersection that connects them all. Rosewood for dim sum and Mother’s for dumplings. B & J Trading and Tap Phong always have what you need even if somehow not food related. Graffiti and wheat pastes and garbage are always changing. Layers on layers of media as time rolls on.