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The Canton Casino in Jersey City

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Hey peoples...

Donhonyc here checking in once again with a report on one of the few NYC area tiki joints. First thanks to JT for the Tiki Road Trip book. An excellent and fun guide! I would have never have known about Canton Casino without it.

Now here's the scoop....Canton Casino is not necessarily a Tiki establishment, in fact it rates 0 on the 'TiPSY' factor. However, it is a very cool...well 'cool' doesn't do it justice. This place is a work of art in a very poetic, dare I say moving way. I was that impressed by it. The short description is that when you walk into Canton Casino it's like walking onto the set of an old movie, a Charlie Chan type movie to be more precise. This place has been on Bergen Ave in Jersey City since the 1930s and it looks that way. Gorgeous and not the slightest bit run down at all. Canton Casino is located in an old commercial building... In order to get to the restaurant you have to walk up a flight of marble stairs in a RED corridor. Once you enter you find yourself inside a very large, ornate Chinese dining room (three tiered as indicated in Tiki Road Trip) with red leather booths, ornate hand painted pillars (the paintings are vases with flowers), and tables sensitively lit with small lamps. The main, centered area of the dining room sits under an oval overhang. There is also a bar that has no bar stools but probably did at some point. There is also a small gallery of photos on one of the walls with photos from the movie that was shot there-'To Wong Foo, thanks for everything...' with Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo, and a photo of a 'Testimonial Dinner' that was held there in 1948!!!! Awesome!!

On this particular expedition I went alone. My girfriend was not up to it (coughhungovercough) and my friends think I'm nuts. I ordered a Zombie which was EXCELLENT, and a regular chinese dish (General Tso's Chicken). The Zombie was amazing and particularly potent! Really good. I was pretty plowed before I even finished the damn thing, and because of that I ordered another. Wow! A really great experience and recommended to anybody in the NYC area, and any visiting the NYC area for that matter. It's very easy to get to. Just take the PATH train to Journal Square and walk a block south and your there! Unfortunately the place was not that busy. There are at least 50 tables in the place and about 6 of them were taken. I was thinking A) maybe I missed rush hour or B) this place was probably paid for years ago by the owners/family/ whoever, and don't have to worry about a slow night. And..Oh yeah, they do have a souvenir counter (also indicated in Tiki Road Trip) with a variety of Tiki mugs, Buddah Mugs, Dragon glasses and MORe! I bought two chimney style dragon glasses (for Zombies) for $2.50 a piece! And a Scorpion Bowl for $8.00. I'm not surprised at all that the producers of the 'Wong Foo' movie wanted to use this place. It's that cool! I'll be there again with girlfriend and friends. Maybe I'll see you there! They don't make places like this anymore.....but they should!!! Hopefully it will hang around for a while for all TC'ers to get to.
Mahalo :drink:

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-07-26 23:06 ]

Donhonyc and James of Tiki Road Trip,
Hearing about the Canton has brought back many fond memories for me. My Great-Grandmother liver in Jersey City for many years, and we went to visit her about every other week for many of those years. About every other trip, we went to the Canton for dinner (she called it the Canton Tea Garden). I haven't been back for a long time, but the family has it on our to do list. Thanks for writing about it.


Its great to hear that some of you are enjoying the Canton Tea Garden. I grew up in Jersey City and the place has looked the same for as long as I can remember.

[ Edited by: tipsytiki on 2003-08-09 15:51 ]

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