As of Canda’s 2016 census, 2,731,571 people live inside the boundaries of Toronto. Add to that, “In 2016, 51.5% of the residents of [Toronto] proper belonged to a visible minority group.” Then, in 2011 alone, 43.7% of the population of Toronto was born outside the country.
With such a big, diverse group, let‘s consider a thought experiment: let’s call it a “tasty lie.”
What would happen if we erroneously concluded that there was a direct correlation between Toronto’s ethnic populations and the number of restaurants serving their cuisines?
If we did this, the easiest eatery to find would be some variation on a Chinese restaurant. Chinese is the most significant single ethnic group in the city. Speaking in terms of population to the number of eateries, proportionally, there should be about 2,136 Chinese restaurants in Toronto.
Following this system, next, would be 2,102 “English” restaurants followed by 2,050 “Canadian” restaurants.
I doubt there are 2,102 English restaurants in the city and I’m not sure what 2,050 “Canadian” restaurants would look like. Would it be a restaurant serving local dishes, or more likely, would it be local people doing their interpretation of various world cuisines?
In short, this numbers game falls apart quickly.
But just for fun, given the stats, Toronto should have about:
- 1,281 East Asian Restaurants
- 1,025 Filipino Restaurants
- 564 Jamaican Restaurants
- 376 Sri Lankan Restaurants
- 290 Iranian Restaurants
- 154 Aboriginal Restaurants (First Nations, Inuit)
- 85 Japanese Restaurants
I’ve excluded most of the European traditions in this list because I know they’re here, and I’ve been exposed to them before. Of more interest are Jamaican, Filipino, and Sri Lankan restaurants which I’ve tried less of and in cities with smaller communities. With such sizable populations here, it seems worth exploring the dining options they offer.
For example, I’ve never been to an aboriginal restaurant, and that concerns me since I’ve been living in their homeland for my entire life.
There are many reasons why this an interesting indicator, but not a meter stick.
Proportionally speaking there “should” only be 85 Japanese restaurants. From what I’ve seen so far, Toronto has enthusiastically embraced what we would consider Japanese cuisine (eg. ramen, sushi). Are all of these sushi and ramen joints run by this small community, or is it more likely that others are getting in on the Japanese food game. I’m told that many of these places are run by Korean families. How does this alter the local Japanese food scene?
What other foods are being reinterpreted by Toronto’s healthy immigrant population?
One example: Toronto’s claim on Vietnamese style pizza. Something like this may be the best definition of Canadian food there is.