Remembering Master Chef Cafe, One of East Van’s Last Greasy Spoons

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

A long gone classic Chinese-Canadian diner once beloved in the Hasting-Sunrise neighbourhood for its red swivel stools, wood-panelled walls, shockingly inexpensive food, and charming proprietors. A cash-only spot to the end, Master Chef Cafe was originally launched in 1953 and had several successive owners until 1993, when it was taken over by a hard-working couple, Tony and May Fung, who for the previous 20 years had operated a restaurant in North Vancouver.

Tony was ever-present as the lone front of house server, often singing to himself while managing a group of crotchety regulars and preparing coffee and milkshakes (he was also a poet). May prepared all the dishes, from basic cheeseburgers and full breakfasts to chicken chow mein and roast turkey dinners. At the time of the restaurant’s closing in 2014, they were both in their 80s and married for over 60 years.

The space was subsequently occupied for several years by a casual diner called What’s Up Hot Dog, and is now (2021) home to a vegan concept called Bad Apple.

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  1. Some of us staff from Hastings school used to go there for delicious burgers. He’d get his meat from Rio Friendly butchers, often when a customer ordered it! They were such great people and Tony’s life story was pretty interesting.

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