I’m Dining Out Here
by Andrew Sprague
Foodies are often the first to benefit from an influx of immigrants in a given jurisdiction. As the number of immigrants in a given area increases so does the number of restaurants, and the variety of food choices available. It’s happening right now in downtown Charlottetown. Off the top of my head I can think of seven new restaurants that have opened in the downtown in the last three years. There’s more Indian food, more sushi, more Asian noodle houses, and at least two restaurants that specialize in pho. Almost all of these are one-off, family owned establishments, which is not surprising given the business ownership requirements for many immigrants coming to our shores. But for the first time in the Island’s history, we are now home to a longstanding Chinese restaurant franchise; Mad Wok.
“There are hundreds of Mad Wok locations in China but only one in Canada and it’s on lower Queen Street in downtown Charlottetown. It serves a variety of stir-fried Asian fare like General Tao chicken, Kung pow chicken, curry shrimp and pad thai. They also allow customers to build their own stir-fries with an ample selection of proteins, vegetables and sauces to choose from. Customers order at the counter and get to watch their food made by chefs at one of three open stir-fry stations next to the cash. The chefs are rather animated and you can tell they’re putting on a bit of a show with all the sizzling, wok tossing, flames and smoke. It’s quite a sight to see the three of them going at the same time.
That’s exactly what they were doing when my friend Yanik and I dropped in for lunch in mid-October. It was about 12:30 and the restaurant was about half full. At the counter the server informed us that with the purchase of any two stir-frys we’d receive six chicken dumplings for free. We both ended up ordering the General Tao chicken with rice.
The food was generally good and was made to order very quickly. We waited about five minutes before it was ready. The General Tao was a huge bowl of rice with plenty of vegetables and six good sized pieces of breaded Szechuan chicken. The dumplings were just fair. I was not a fan of the peanut sauce along side, and that sullied my impression of the dish. Yanik enjoyed his meal as well and was a far bigger fan of the dumplings than I.
For the two of us it was just over $30 with taxes and tip. We didn’t have a drink but that’s still a pretty good deal for two heaping plates of stir-fry and six dumplings. Throw in the entertainment value with the chefs and the woks, and you end up with a pretty darn good spot for lunch or dinner that won’t take too much time out of your day.
The surge in new restaurants owned by immigrants has opened a whole new world of dining experiences for Islanders. It’s a small benefit compared to the many other ways immigration is changing the Island for the better, but it’s one that makes this longtime foodie very grateful.