A new eatery has opened up on 118 Avenue, near 92 Street.
Siu To has opened his long awaited restaurant called Green Onion Cake Man. To had a long career in the food industry before retiring and now people are excited that he has come out of retirement because he is the man credited with bringing green onion cakes to Edmonton.
“The green onion cake is a household staple food,” said To.
“In Northern China, in the deep wintertime, the only thing that grows in the house is a green onion.”
To says that the recipe has been passed down through the generations and is known as a staple food there, due to the economy and the simplicity of the dish.
When To came to Edmonton, he and his wife went around sampling local eateries to see what they liked and where they could eat, but they couldn’t find anything that they liked – at that time.
“We just looked at each other and we said, ‘Hm, maybe this is an opportunity’ .” To and his wife then went on to open a restaurant selling the dishes that they enjoyed.
“The first appetizer was the green onion cake. We presented a different menu to [the customer]”.
To then went on to own multiple restaurants and make a name for himself in the Edmonton food industry before retiring in the ’90s. Since he opened his first restaurant in the ’50s to when he retired, many other eateries had begun serving green onion cakes in their menus as well.
To soon found himself bored.
“I just didn’t fit in with the retirement [activities]” he said. He and his wife decided to start making green onion cakes again and sell them at the local farmers market.
“I [feel] alive again because I see so many people, they come to say hi, like ‘Siu, I haven’t seen you for a long time, it’s good to see you.’ ” Through the farmers market, he was able to sell his cakes again. It soon begun that people would come to him with complaints. “ ‘Siu, I [went] to the Taste of Edmonton, their green onion cakes were terrible,’ or ‘I went to the Folk Festival, they are just not the green onion cake like you [have],’ ” To recalled.
He decided to go and see what businesses were doing. He found that they were trying to make their food efficiently so that they could serve more customers at rush hour.
“But food has never been an efficient thing,” says To. That, coupled with the fact that one can only sell their product packaged at the farmers market and not fresh off the griddle – as To would prefer – are the two main factors that drove him to open his restaurant.
Green Onion Cake Man is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday and is already swarming with happy green onion cake eaters. They offer packaged cakes to take home for later and fresh cakes at only $4 a cake – a bargain for many people. The line for the little establishment is often out the door and tables are full of people dining on warm green onion cakes, which is likely to increase as the weather turns cold for the winter.
– Moira Bryan