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U & Me Restaurant's unique hours give customers a place to eat, socialize and sober up
I like to think of Calgary as a mini Toronto. That's where I was born and raised, but four years ago I traded in the TTC for the LRT.
The only place that reminds me of the buzzing streets of Toronto is Calgary's Chinatown. It gives me that sense of multiculturalism I can't find anywhere else in the city.
Calgary has the fourth largest Chinatown in Canada, after Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — which is pretty impressive considering the size of those cities.
Walking down Centre St. into the heart of Calgary's Chinatown, you're instantly greeted with colours like dragon red and the washed out orange of brick walls.
The flavourful mix of ethnicity along with the sound of foreign languages being spoken, all result in a feeling of not belonging — while still wanting what Chinatown's culture has to offer.
But if there's one place in Chinatown that matters the most to me, it's U & Me Restaurant, located on the corner of Centre St. and 3rd Avenue.
This is a gift to all inebriated clubbers that aren't quite ready to call it a night.
If one were ever without a place to sober up at 2 a.m., this late-night Chinese restaurant would be the place to go.
An early morning meal
U & Me Restaurant is one of the only restaurants in the city open from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m., every single day of the week — and I say this with great appreciation.
With its outdated yellow tablecloths, wooden chairs and washed out wallpaper, the dining room slightly resembles a senior's hall — but it's clear aesthetics hasn't earned this restaurant its popularity.
Analiz D'Costa says she usually doesn't like Chinese food but always enjoys a meal at U & Me Restaurant over the weekend.
"It's the only restaurant I've ever seen open this late. My first time eating here I was shocked because it was really loud and everyone seemed pretty intoxicated," D'Costa says.
Others see the restaurant as a place to continue talking to that special someone they couldn't quite hear over the booming speakers of the club.
Mike Sauve says, "If you meet a girl you like at the club, U & Me is always a good place to take her to eat after. Eating here has gotten me a lot of phone numbers at the end of the night."
And whether you're there on a date or with a group of friends, this restaurant is buzzing with life at hours when most people are at home sleeping.
It's not just the food
Dim Sum, Chinese treats and deep fried spring rolls are all popular items on the menu, my favourite being the sweet and sour pineapple chicken.
But the food isn't always the main attraction for customers.
Some even describe it as simply mediocre.
"It's more about the mood of the place," says two-year customer Hanan Kassim.
"Right when you think the night is over, you walk into U & Me and realize it just started."
Kassim says the restaurant also acts as a safe place to sober up before heading to your car to drive home.
"Sometimes me and my friends will park the car downtown and end up unable to drive it home after the club, so we cab it over to U & Me and sober up there for an hour or two," says Kassim.
Due to the hustle and bustle of the restaurant, my waitress could not find time to do anything but take my order and serve my table — and neither could any of the other waitresses for that matter, considering the rush of customers at 3 a.m.
But I've learned that because of the restaurants unique business hours, a safe environment is offered to customers, along with decent food, interesting conversation and a chance to meet new people.
Kassim says, "I don't know how my weeknights would end if there was no U & Me."