Montreal Chinatown is somewhat small, but still very appealing. It is not the largest of the Canadian Chinatowns, but it does have some advantages over the Chinatowns in Vancouver and Toronto. Like other Canadian Chinatowns and all Chinatowns around the world, Chinatown in Montreal has a selection of Asian stores and restaurants, but it has its own unique style that sets it apart. Montreal Chinatown is open to tourists past business hours and into the evening, while other Canadian Chinatowns tend to close early and are left deserted.
Montreal Chinatown dates back as early as 1860 when many Chinese (especially those from Hong Kong) immigrants came to Montreal, looking for work and opportunity. Later many Vietnamese-Chinese refugees came to Montreal, many of them French speaking due to the French colonization of Vietnam. There are now many Vietnamese shops and restaurants in Chinatown in Montreal as well as Chinese. The area has changed from residential to commercial, and today is an exciting Montreal attraction.
Known in French as the Quartier Chinois, Montreal Chinatown is best seen by foot. The most interesting street, La Gauchetiere Street is closed to traffic anyway, so you can walk around and enjoy the street car-free. The striking Chinese-style arches on La Gauchetiere will greet you as you enter Montreal Chinatown La Gauchetiere Street holds many souvenir shops and restaurants, gift stores and the like. The most interesting part of the street is between St. Laurent and Palais des Congres. Another street worth seeing is St. Lawrence Boulevard, where most of the Chinese markets are found.
The atmosphere of Chinatown is lively, with authentic and fresh produce and meat markets and entertaining street merchants. You can buy anything from tempting Chinese sweets to kimonos, to teapots.
Of course, the best place to find authentic Asian food is in Chinatown. There are a number of regional specialties served in Montreal Chinatown from won ton soup, dim sum, Peking duck, and curry dishes. Delicious bowls of steaming Vietnamese phô noodle soup are served in authentic Vietnamese restaurants. Many Asians come to Chinatown in Montreal to get imported foods unavailable at other supermarkets.