Reporter Nathan Fung asks Grace Law what she remembers of the old Mirama restaurant on 94 St. and Jasper Ave, and what did this old dim sum place mean to her and possibly other Chinese Canadians living in Edmonton.
For years, the Mirama Dining and Lounge restaurant was a popular spot for Chinese Canadians, and it was the place where big celebrations were held like weddings, Chinese New Year festivities, graduations, etc.
But the restaurant’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in 2004 when a wedding turned into a bloody brawl between two rival gangs. Eventually, the building became abandoned and it was finally torn down in 2018.
This is Part 1 of a miniseries about the Mirama restaurant by Nathan Fung. Part 2 comes out on July 22.
- Demolition of former Mirama Dining Lounge begins (CTV Edmonton, December 18, 2018)
- Wedding violence gang-related, Edmonton police say (The Globe and Mail, July 20, 2004)
- Two local bars and one restaurant fined for fire code regulations (CTV Edmonton, March 20, 2010)
- South Chinatown Mall Demolition (Boyle McCauley News, May 2019)
I have a LOT of detailed memories of this place due to countless dinners there. Haha depending on where my family was sitting in the banquet hall, the placement said a lot on how close you were to the family that was hosting the event. Some details that were not mentioned in the podcast include the mini banquet space in the back (used for smaller weddings or diners that still wanted to eat at the restaurant when another event was taking place), the fact that there was a mystery undeveloped third floor that was great fun to explore as a kid, the outdoor smoking area that all the adult males would congregate at, the TERRIBLE parking lot that Mirama had and the fact that yes, at times the dining room was so full that I’m sure fire codes were being violated every weekend. Mirama holds great memories for me as one of the big 3 Chinese restaurants for big gatherings in the 90s ( the other 2 being Dynasty/Long Ting and Golden Rice Bowl/Tai Jee Heen).
The gift shop was definitely my favourite thing about Mirama. There was the gift shop with different knick knacks, and I think another one that primarily sold Chinese clothing. I loved the different knick knacks and toys as a kid. Especially when I was really young, the shop owner would give me free pogs, Chinese yoyos, and fans. The merchandise was always interesting and made me feel connected to my Chinese heritage, when all I was really acquainted with was grocery stores. I think I went to Mirama between ages 6 – 15 or something like that. I definitely remember Mirama was kind of scary for me as a young kid, before I was a teen. I was afraid of the “scary looking men” who were often around downstairs by the washrooms. Were they actually scary looking? I’m not sure now… haha! The primary gift shop closed down years (I think) before the final closure of the building Mirama. And after that, the other gift shops started closing as well. That’s when my family started frequenting Mirama less frequently before the full closure.
We also had a lot of Chinese New Year banquets here, and I was involved in Chinese Unicorn (Qilin) Dance for awhile for other people’s banquets. I would definitely say a lot of cultural dances and performances I was introduced to started at Mirama.
Sorry for commenting so much. I also agree with Grace about the architecture of Mirama being unique and iconic. There definitely wasn’t anything else that looked like Mirama. I think the building of Mirama really made me feel connected to Chinese culture.
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