Thursday, December 28, 2017


This morning during conversation someone mentioned Sun Wah Kue (新華僑餐廳), which was a longtime favourite of many people in the area. At the corner of Ross Alley (舊呂宋巷) on Washington Street (華盛頓街) between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street (市德頓街). They were known for their apple pie, orange pie, ox tail, pork chops, rib-eye, tongue, and fried chicken. Oh, and other things. It was the kind of restaurant that used to be common in Chinatown, serving Chinese and American dishes to Americanized Chinese and the locally born, who up until the seventies felt more at home and comfortable there than at the white folks joints outside the neighborhood.

Up to the early Seventies in much of the city they were distinctly unwelcome; the Irish and Italians didn't want their business.

If Sun Wah Kue was crowded, you simply went down Waverly (天后廟街) to Uncle's Cafe and sat at the counter. Also American standards, plus coffee and apple pie. For many years Rose Pak (白蘭大姐) would be there, swilling cup after cup and holding court. No, that famous picture of her with a cigar was not taken there.

[In the last few years that it existed, Uncle's was 鶯咕餐廳 ('ang ku chan teng').
But I think the name before may have been 金麒麟 ('kam kei luen'), before they ripped out the counter. There was also another name ... ]

He also remembered Yong Kee (容記糕粉), the Dollar Store, the "movie theatre with all the fleas", Woolworth's, and Ping Yuen Bakery (平園餅家). All of which no longer exist.

Sun Wah Kue was sold in the late eighties, I think, and changed hands again in the nineties before finally closing. Uncle's changed hands at least twice before become a Szechuan joint with a goofy name catering to rich young Mandarin speakers and white folks, the Dollar Store, the theatre, and Woolworth's were all gone by the end of the eighties or before, and Ping Yuen closed sometime in the nineties. Ping Yuen's cream pies were delicious, and if you sat at the counter you risked serious caffeine intoxication because of the free refills.

I kind of wonder if he remembered The Rickshaw.
What alleyway was that nightclub on?
Allan Gin would know.


Two surnames to remember from today: 劉 ('lau') and 車 ('che').
The place of origin for one of them: Longdu (隆都 'lung dau').
A dialect group: Zhongshan Min (中山閩 'jung saan man').

Sek Kei Wa (石岐話) may have a Hakka influence.
Fewest tones among the Yue (粵) dialects.
廣東話 is more important, though.
Standard city speech.

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