Edmonton’s Chinatown Dining Week Review

By Mariana Gutierrez-Serna

I have to admit that my relationship with food hit some rough patches over the past few years. My stress eating surely had to go and don’t get me started on the unpleasant diets.

It was not surprising, though, to see how easy it was for me to fall head-over-heels in love with it all over again during the pandemic. I had to cure my boredom somehow while quarantined, and who wouldn’t resort to food? Edmonton has definitely increased the amount of temptation that surrounds me daily. One of those temptations had to be Chinatown Dining Week.

Every year the city of Edmonton supports local businesses located in Chinatown, and this year Chinatown Dining Week ran from January 14 to the 24. This culinary event features a fixed menu that offers meals and combos for $10 or $18. Luckily the pandemic did not disrupt this year’s plans too much – though indoor dining wasn’t permitted, guests were able to order takeout. There is also a certain joy that comes from relishing over the meals from the comfort of my own dining room.

After hearing about this event, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and address those hidden gems that lie in the corners of the city. Chinatown does provide different types of cuisine, and features a variety of food cultures outside of what its name might tell you. This is not well known to the people of Edmonton, and these events are slowly providing these local businesses with more recognition.

So, after a couple of minutes reviewing the Chinatown Dining Week menu, I decided to give the $10 items a try. The three restaurants I ordered from were Namaste India, Kim Fat Market, and Macarons and Goodies.

When I went to pick up my orders, I did not get shocked by the devastating emptiness of the establishments. Their service was heartwarming, and it helped distract me from the haunting reality of the situation we live in. Each one of those establishments did their best, and were successful in providing me with delightful hospitality as I waited to receive my meal, from making small talk to introducing me to new items on their menu.

I did not get to interact with many employees during my pickups, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how efficient Namaste India’s service was. I was grateful for their honesty regarding some confusion about the items and time of the pickup. Namaste India had misplaced my order and had not been expecting me, but they made up for it by their fast preparation time and customer service.

Namaste India
(10023 107 Ave)

The items on their menu for $10 this year were:

  • Butter Chicken – Tandoori Grilled Chicken Cooked in an Ambrosial Tomato and Cream Sauce
  • Vegetable Korma – Vegetables with Homemade Cheese Cooked in Thick Creamy Sauce, Served with Basmati Rice or Naan
  • Chana Masala – Chickpeas Cooked in Onion, Tomato, Ginger and Garlic Gravy, Served with Basmati Rice and Naan

My choice: Butter Chicken

Finding out what made their butter chicken so special was intriguing to me. What caught my eye was the bright tone of the ambrosial tomato and cream sauce. In the past, I have encountered butter chicken with a more orange colour, but Namaste India’s stood out with a red tint, courtesy of the paprika. The meal was rich in smell – the chili pepper and garlic overpowered my dining room. The build-up to the first bite was promising, and my expectations were high.

The first spoonful contained the right amount of chicken and spice. Even though the sauce was the first thing I got to savour, my thought was on the chicken. Made extra soft by having it soaked in the tomato goodness. Overall, nicely cooked. Now, the chicken would be nothing without the sauce in this meal. The sauce, still warm, contained the right amount of tomato. The level of spice was milder, which seemed fitting in contrast with the flavour the sauce and chicken brought to the dish. Personally, I did not feel like it lacked anything concerning seasoning. Although I have no complaints about the taste, the sauce could have done with a bit more thickness.

For six years, Namaste India has been successful at providing Edmontonians with excellent Indian dishes, and they did not disappoint this time.

Kim Fat Market
(9905 107 Ave)

The items on their menu for $10 this year were:

  • Small Tray of Deep-Fried Drumsticks or Dry Ribs (Topping options: All-Dressed, Honey Garlic, Regular Crispy, or Cajun)

My Choice: Small Tray Dry Ribs – All-Dressed

In all fairness, I have had my fair share of drumsticks in the past, so I wanted to add some variation to my food choices. The initial thing that stood out to me was the portion size: the amount of meat was generous given its reasonable price. The pieces were small, which made it easier to slowly snack on through the evening. For visual appeal, the added vegetables, bell peppers, and onions seemed like a good choice to give the plate a break from the overpowering brown tone of the ribs.

The ribs, slathered in a spruce blend, featured chili sauce and garlic. These spices were not overwhelming, but were definitely distinguishable in the first bite. The outer layer was wonderfully crunchy due to the fair amount of seasoning coating it. The inner consistency was dry while still being slightly chewy, but not too much for it to be undercooked. The chewiness of the ribs was actually what pulled me in. Visually, the meat had a perfect light pink tone.

Kim Fat Market has specialized in meats for about 32 years now and they did live up to their reputation with this meal.

Macarons and Goodies
(10548 101 Street)

The items on their menu for $10 this year were:

  • Six Macarons or Two 5” Pies

My Choice: Pear Cinnamon Pie and 3 Macarons (Earl Grey, Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel)

Macarons and Goodies are exceptional in their use of vivid colour on pastries, especially with their macarons. I am a sucker for colourful macarons, and there were plenty to choose from. Chocolate, salted caramel, and black tea flavour are some of my top choices in any scenario.

The three that I chose also possessed a very smooth and strong cover – they crumbled effortlessly with every bite. It was the most satisfying part of the experience.

The earl grey macaron’s presentation consisted of a beautiful tone of turquoise with chocolate flakes on top. The flavour was subtle, and it could have used a stronger hint of earl grey, particularly in the filling.

The first bite of the dark chocolate macaron was pleasingly rich in bitterness. The decadent filling was strong and heavy on cacao, the exterior resembled a red velvet vibe in colour and flavour. Its presentation was simple and dark – very representative of its name.

The salted caramel macaron had different tones of beige for its exterior and interior. The amount of salt in its filling was mesmerizing. Almost immediately, I got a sense of the general savour of it, its salty essence efficiently boosting the caramel in it. Most salted caramel flavoured macarons have lacked in that department, so it was satisfying to have a balance of the elements. It was a good contrast as well, since the exterior was plainer, but still featured a hint of caramel.

I tend to compare most pies to my mother’s, in terms of rich sweetness and balanced flavours. Unfortunately, this pear cinnamon pie did not fulfill my expectations. Visually, it had a lovely layer of cinnamon that covered the top of the pie with some pears showing. The pears themselves had a very rich and fresh taste. The cinnamon, on the other hand, was not prevalent throughout. The bottom of the pie lacked in savour and the sweetness was missing as well.

For three years, Macarons and Goodies have been providing beautiful desserts, as well as high-quality service. Their specialty is French pastry, which can be seen through their success with macarons.

I can only assume every restaurant in Chinatown Dining Week would be a delight to anyone’s palate, and I would truly recommend giving this event a try in the future. I know I am looking forward to next year’s, and I will definitely allow myself to go over my budget to enjoy the $18 items on the menu.

Namaste India
City Centre location: 10023 107 Ave
(780) 540-0100
Westend location: 10070 163 St
delivery and pickup available

Kim Fat Market
9905 107 St.
(780) 426-7409

Macarons and Goodies
Edmonton: 10548 101 St
St. Albert: 50 St Thomas St, St Albert
delivery and pickup available