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green onion cake vs green onion donut

The Story of Green Onion Donut vs Green Onion Cake

green onion cake vs green onion donut


The green onion donut vs green onion cake debate is one that many Edmontonians know. Popularized in northern China, the dishes are available throughout many restaurants in Edmonton. However, not many Edmontonians know why, with many trying to find out. 


Historian Laureate Chris Chang-Yen Phillips declares that the cakes feel like an Edmonton thing, claiming that you can’t find the dish if you visit other cities in Canada. Whereas if you were to analyze China, the dishes are available across the entire nation. It’s a showcase that no matter how popular a dish is somewhere, that doesn’t make it the same level of popularity elsewhere.



Chang-Yen Phillip’s research led him to discover that the dish was popularized in the 1980s, thanks to chef Siu To. Siu To came from northern China and began his restaurant career in 1978. His green onion cakes were an immediate hit, with no other restaurants in Edmonton selling them.


Therefore, any individual who needed a green onion cake needed to go to Happy Garden or his other eatery, Mongolian Food Experience. Siu To declares that many of his customers were Taiwanese who initially went to the United States for school but found jobs in Edmonton.


Chang-Yen Phillips feels the dish is excellent festival food, representing a change in Chinese cuisine not typically found in Edmonton. Though Siu To found success in the 1980s, the dish didn’t become a true staple of the city until events like the Taste of Edmonton, Folk Fest, and the Fringe.


Taste of Edmonton is a summer tradition that celebrates the culinary arts. Downtown crowds fill the streets, exploring the food offerings that have been at the heart of the city for years. The festival is happening from July 21 to July 31 in 2022.


Starting August 4 and ending August 7, Folk Fest is a fantastic music festival in Gallagher Park that happens each year on the second weekend in August. Besides, many sponsors support the event, allowing patrons to partake in great food, relaxing vibes, and music.


Lastly, the Fringe is an annual arts festival held in the city from August 11 to August 21, 2022. The festival is the largest and longest-running Fringe festival in North America, attracting attendees all across the globe. The festival features countless great eateries from the city outside of the great art.


A Popular Product

Siu To feels the dish is as popular because of its uniqueness compared to a traditionally mass-produced product. The cakes aren’t super easy to make, prompting many to doubt Siu To when developing the dish. Many local chefs thought it was a waste of time, especially in a fast-paced setting like a festival.


For example, a chef could make seven dishes when it takes to cook a pre-made green onion cake. Though the dish isn’t as profitable as other dishes in these settings, Siu To felt determined, claiming the dish is a part of his heritage and a staple he needs to share.


Today, the dish took off, making it a perfect festival food thanks to its aroma, ease of use, and ability not to be messy to eat. It’s a shift in Chinese cuisine in the city, transitioning from Cantonese-style dishes to a hybrid style of food traditions from China.


Eventually, Siu To’s restaurants weren’t the only eateries making the dishes, with Siu To selling the dish to other restaurants throughout the city. Some restaurants began to experience showcasing different dishes with the same ingredients, such as the green onion donut.


Today – Green Onion Donut vs Green Onion Cake

Nowadays, there are two main green onion variations in the city: the green onion donut and the green onion cake. Though the green onion donut vs green onion cake debate is harmless, there isn’t too much difference between the two besides their shape.


Generally speaking, pancake-style cakes tend to be homemade, whereas the donut-shaped ones are deep-fried. The donuts are faster to make, whereas the pancakes are closer to the origin.


Either way, the fried bread dish of the green onion cake and green onion donut has become a city staple. You can find the dish at most Asian cuisine eateries in the city. Consider visiting any of the festivals mentioned above to get the dish, so many Edmontonians love.

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