FREDERICTON – Recent Chinese immigrants have opened a restaurant in downtown Fredericton to give people a taste of authentic food and culture from their home country.
A Bite of Beijing is located on 621 King Street beside Lunar Rogue Pub. It offers Chinese crepes, noodles, snacks and desserts, with vegan and vegetarian options. For those new at navigating Chinese food, there are breakfast, lunch, and dinner combos.
The dishes are healthy and fast to make. In three minutes tops, the owners say customers will be enjoying authentic Chinese cuisine. The early reviews online are good. “The best Jianbing (Chinese crepe) I’ve had since we lived in Beijing,” said one customer on Facebook.
Another customer said that ‘a bite of their Chinese crepe cured their homesickness.’
Trissie (Bin) Suo and Joe (Liang) Li came about a year ago from Beijing with their children of four and seven looking for a better life.
“We have better education here, and [a] better environment, good air, so that’s why we moved here,” Suo said.
In China, Joe (Liang) was an IT engineer and Trissie (Bin) an internal auditor. They looked for jobs for about three months when they arrived in Fredericton, but couldn’t find any.
They decided to start a business by selling Chinese food at the Garrison Night Market, then moved to the Northside Market. Aside from the restaurant, Suo also became a realtor.
“After we moved here we needed to think about what should we do in the future. This is a small city, and there are not many job opportunities compared to big cities, so we decided to make some big changes in our lives,” she said.
Their food was well-received at the markets, which motivated them to open a restaurant when space became available downtown.
“We [thought], ‘it’s time we can do my restaurant to serve all the community,’” Li said.
They had a hard time thinking of how to merge the different Canadian and Chinese cultures into the restaurant decor. Li came up with an idea: make a Chinese and a Canadian-style room.
The Canadian-style room resembles a diner, while the Chinese-style room has paintings from China and red seats that represent the Chinese flag.
“We want people to learn about our culture, so that’s why we wanted to start our business,” said Sou.
That’s why they named their restaurant ‘A Bite of Beijing.’
“This restaurant is not only serving the food, but it also includes the culture, Chinese culture,” said Li.
Even if people now know their food, they still find that some are reluctant to try it. Sou says there are times where her husband gives out food for free in the Northside Market so people try it. Half of the time people reject it.
“You know, in China or in Toronto, if we have new food, people will come to try it, they are eager to try new things,” she said. “It’s very hard for us to develop new food here because if they don’t try it, they [will] never buy our food.”
However, in every step of the way they have received support from their Chinese community and Canadian friends in Fredericton.
Coming from a big city themselves, they were surprised by Fredericton’s smalltown warmth where even the mayor shares the news about their new restaurant on Facebook.
“We never thought the mayor would look on Facebook and post such kind of information for us because in China, in big cities, we never thought [something like that] would happen to us,” Suo said.