Lifestyle blogger and foodie
Lifestyle blogger and foodie Belicia Chung touches on all things growing up in Ontario, as well as her favourite culinary and go-to experiences.
Where did you grow up and what was the best part about growing up in Ontario?
I grew up in Oakville and have always enjoyed going to Downtown Oakville, walking by the water with my family, going out for brunch or dinners, shopping, there’s something for everyone. But my family and I didn’t spend a lot of weekends in Oakville. When I was growing up in the 90’s, I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me, a young first-generation Chinese girl with parents who immigrated from Hong Kong. So we often drove to Mississauga or Markham where we ate at some of my favourite Chinese restaurants, saw family friends, shopped at Pacific Mall – my parents really tried to encourage me to explore what it meant to be a Canadian with a Chinese heritage, which I’m so grateful for.
You are known for being quite the foodie – what do you love best about Toronto’s culinary experiences?
Food has always been a big part of my family. No matter how busy we were, it was rare for my family to eat a meal separately. My parents cooked together and before serving ourselves, my brother and I served our parents their favourite parts of the meal first. This was our love language and our moment of reconnection. So it’s no surprise I have such a special appreciation for food and how it connects people. My favourite dining experiences in Toronto are places where I feel the heartbeat of the kitchen, the family that built the walls and served their parents first. A must visit is Maha’s Egyptian Brunch. My fiancé is Egyptian and I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the Egyptian culture and food so walking into Maha’s is a breath of warm familial air where you feel their tight embrace in their cooking. For my family, we spent a lot of Sundays at dim sum and our favourite is Skyview Fusion Cuisine in Markham. Contrary to Maha’s where you felt connected to the kitchen, here, the focus is on connecting with your group. From the quantity of pieces per dish to the design of the round tables, dim sum is a shareable experience.
If you had to create a weekend guide for Ontarians, what must-dos would be on it?
I spent a lot of time in Hamilton because I went to McMaster University so I have some fond memories going to Art Crawl, which is a monthly pop up celebrating the city’s artists, performers, craft markets all while exploring shops, galleries and restaurants on the strip of James Street North. About 30 minutes away from Hamilton is my most recent favourite dining experience in Ontario, Restaurant Pearl Morissette. My fiance surprised me with a meal here for my birthday and it truly was an unparallelled experience. Their menu’s approach is to reflect the Canadian ecosystem where they only use ingredients grown and found in Canada. This is definitely a bucket list experience for those who appreciate local and seasonal expression in dining.
For moments where I’m looking for a mini escape without leaving Toronto, I head over to the Caudalie Boutique in Yorkville for a glorious facial or body treatment. Caudalie was born in Bordeaux, France with effective skincare and spa treatments that will transport you to France. From their French facial and massage techniques to the connection to their Bordeaux vineyard in product formulation and interior decor, this is a sensorial and indulgent escape without having to leave Ontario.
What is your favourite part about living in Ontario?
I’m often asked if I’d ever move to a different country or even province in Canada and my answer is always no. I love to travel and immerse myself in different cultures and ways of living but home for me is Ontario. Home is where my family is, it’s where I can see myself in other young first generation Chinese girls trying to find their identity, and it’s where I can relive fond memories or discover bucket-list transporting experiences. Ontario is home.