chinese restaurants toronto

Chinese restaurants in Toronto team up to celebrate Lunar New Year and fight stigma

Chinese restaurants across Toronto are hoping to fight stigma against Asian businesses this Lunar New Year by teaming up on a special meal kit for the ocassion.

Legendary spots like Yueh Tung, Hong Shing and Tap Phong are taking part, and the people behind projects like fried chicken pop-up Joybird and cocktail kit company Salty Paloma are also involved.

Even when coronavirus cases had dipped in Toronto a little under a year ago and indoor dining was allowed, Chinese restaurants still found it difficult to fill tables due to anti-Chinese sentiment. Trump had infamously dubbed COVID-19 "Chinese virus," and north of the border Toronto was sadly no stranger to increased racism.

"Lunar New Year means a lot to us, as it is the biggest celebration of the year for my culture. It is a moment of togetherness, where I get to see my friends and family to celebrate the end of the previous year and the start of a new year," Colin Li of Hong Shing told blogTO.

"Especially at a time like this, the sense of togetherness is really what inspires me to reach out and see how my industry friends are doing, and from this, we agreed on wanting to work together on a meal kit this year to help show support to the Chinese community as a whole."

The meal kit includes a Chinese BBQ meat platter, spring rolls, crab meat fish maw soup, char siu truffle and porcini egg foo young, XO garlic fried rice, wok fried grouper, modern moo goo gai pan and Cantonese fried noodle.

There's also a cocktail/mocktail kit, duo of sauces from Yueh Tung, chopsticks from Tap Phong, Hong Shing's signature new Red Pocket Pilsner, and Trevor Lui's Yum Cha Chinese tea and Double Happiness Cookbook.

Anti-Chinese racism has affected people in Toronto on a personal level, but the Asian community has shown incredible resilience in coming together through food in a display of partnership and pride. There was even an Asian food festival last year to combat the association between Asian cultures and coronavirus fears.

"This meal kit means more than just the food, your contribution in getting this meal kit shows us your support that you believe in us joining together to create awareness and promote the importance of supporting local, independent small businesses," says Li.

"I believe it is a first step to fighting against any stigma against Chinese restaurants. By launching this box, we hope to inspire our community to come together and support one another and we also hope to inspire other Chinese restaurateurs to reach out within their own communities and work on collaborating with each other."

The kit is available from February 5-19 for $288.00 and feeds 6 people. It requires 24 notice and will be available starting February 1 for pre-order via Hong Shing.

"Pandemic has affected business, especially logistically and strategy building, as we were focused on dine-in before the pandemic and now that we have to adapt to a full business model for just takeout and delivery," says Li.

"I believe the industry as a whole is still trying to figure out how to successfully come out of it, but I feel that the industry is more in unity as we are all going through it together. This is why it inspired me to collaborate with local restaurateurs in the city, in hopes to show the city that we are binding together for a cause."

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