Hakka in Toronto

Poster#1 THC2016 copyI’m working on my presentation for the upcoming Toronto Hakka Conference. Of course, I will be talking about food.

I will be in Toronto a few extra days and wonder where to eat. Do you have any suggestions for restaurants with Hakka chefs in the Toronto area? Would love to know where you eat and what your favorite dishes are. What’s new? I know many Hakka chefs come from India but have heard there are some with Jamaican roots. Please share your suggestions with me!

Visit Toronto Hakka Conference to register and see the program. From July 1 to 3, participants have a chance to meet Hakka from all over the world. Listen to experts speak about subjects ranging from Hakka genealogy, food, dialects, history, and much more. The Toronto area holds a concentration of Hakka from that spans the globe. At my first conference in 2008 I connected with many Hakka and interviewed them for The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World.

Hakka tastes in London

Just back from London. Ate at Four Seasons, a Chinese restaurant famous for its roast duck. My sister-in-law, a flight attendant, says all the Thai flight crew order duck over rice.  They present the duck Thai-style, cut-up over rice with a dark salty-sweet sauce, accompanied with a tray of Thai condiments. My Thai husband loved it.

I was drawn to the Hakka dishes on the menu. Although it wasn’t a Hakka restaurant, Hakka classics such as steamed pork belly with preserved mustard greens (kiu nyiuk moi choi) and salt-baked chicken (yam guk gai) appeared on the menu. They weren’t labeled Hakka but were popular with the Chinese customers.

Pork belly steamed on a bed of preserved mustard greens in a dark savory sauce

Although I didn’t get to London for my cookbook, it makes sense there would be a Hakka presence in Great Britain. Many Hakka immigrated to British colonies such as India, the West Indies, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Some may have later migrated to the United Kingdom. The Chinatown looks like most throughout the world. A few compact blocks are packed with restaurants selling dim sum, roast ducks, and fresh seafood. There are small noodle shops and Chinese bakeries. Although I didn’t meet any Hakka there, I could taste the Hakka presence in the food.