Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant is a landmark in Vancouver Chinatown… and open again!
Where can you get good old-style Cantonese food in
Vancouver? Today, there are many styles of Chinese food from Hong
Kong, Beijing, Hunan, Shanghai, even Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean and
Japanese. The new immigrants that speak mandarin now out-number the
Cantonese speaking pioneer immigrants and their descendants.
Many many years ago, all the best restaurants in
Chintown all had neon lights. The Ho Ho Restaurant at the corner of
Pender and Columbia St. had a long tall vertical neon sign that
featured a hot steaming bowl of rice
The Ho Ho Rstaurant displayed a wonderful neon sign from the 50's to the 60's
. Keith McKellar's book “Neon Eulogy: Vancouver Cafe and Street” writes and interesting description of the Ho Ho Restaurant.
photo courtesy of Christian Dahlberg www.vancouverneon.com/
Back in the 1950's, 60's and 70's… Vancouver Chinatown was the place
to go for late night eats, Chinese banquets, and you could see the 5th
Dimension, The Platters and many other great performers at the Marco
Polo Restaurant and Night Club – which was across the street from the
former Ho Ho Restaurant.
I grew up during the late 60's and 70's. Our family used to sit in the
upstairs window booth seat, where we could look outside at all the
pedestrians. I remember buying Bruce Lee posters from the many stores
on Pender St. Sadly, this era of Chinatown is now long gone. Ethnic
Chinese have moved out to the suburbs and the restaurants and stores
followed them. New immigrants no longer came to Strathcona or
Chinatown as the first stop, many move straight to Richmond, Coquitlam,
Shaughnessey and even North Vancouver.
changed, and restaurants closed. The Ho Inn had a fire. Foo's
Restaurant closed. The Ho Ho closed. I remember sitting in the The
Marco Polo when owner Victor Louie was closing down and offering my dad
some of pictures on the wall. My father was a sign writer, and he used
to do all the show cards and other signwork for The Marco Polo.
back James Sam, known as “Sam” re-opened the Ho Ho Restaurant site,
renaming it Foo's Ho Ho in recognition of these by-gone restaurants.
Sam had formerly worked at WK Gardens, Marco Polo
and Best Wun Tun House. Foo's Ho Ho became the place to go when you
wanted old-style Cantonese cuisine, or to reminesce about the good old
days of Vancouver Chinatown.
I have had many memorable visits to Foo's Ho Ho:
Paul Yee's “Saltwater City” at CBC Radio One Book Club: Important History for a hopeful yet unsettled future
Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC honours Brandy Lien-Worrall
But in July 2009, it was announced that chef Sam was
in the hospital with cancer, and that Foo's Ho Ho would soon close. My
friend Jim Wong-Chu organized a dinner for a “last night dinner” at
Foo's Ho Ho, and invited lots of our friends who enjoy Chinese Canadian
history, and its food.
was a great dinner, and good to see old friends and talk about the
foods and dishes that we love to eat. Sam's wife Joanne was in the
kitchen cooking up many of Sam's signature dishes for us.
A week later, Chef Sam, of Foo's Ho Ho, passes on the the Great Kitchen in the Heavens. A memorial was held for Sam on July 30. After a grieving period, Joanne decided to re-open.
August 20th, we were back at Foo's Ho Ho
Restaurant. Jim Wong-Chu invited some friends to again talk about
food, and how we can highlight it's connections to Vancouver Chinese
history. The dinner was attended by: Col. Howe Lee and Judy Maxwell of
the Chinese Canadian Military Museum; my mother's cousin Gary Lee –
who's interview for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy
had been filmed at Foo's Ho Ho; media artist Ray Mah – who had designed
the Saltwater City logos for the 1986 exhibition; and Dr. Jan Walls.
We hope to have more dinners to highlight the food and Vancouver Chinatown history. Stay tuned…
Oh… but what did we eat?
Feast your eyes on these pictures!
Free soup that comes with our meal: meat and melon with vegetables
Special order: Garlic Chicken!
My favorite: Chicken stuffed with sticky rice
Egg Foo Yung, a trade
Bitter Melon with Beef and black bean sauce
Another favorite! Curried potato slices with beef.
Taro with pork
Tofu and Fish!
Dr. Jan Walls, our chef Joanne, and Jim Wong-Chu