British Columbia

Canadian pub opens in unlikely Chinese city

Wenzhou is an industrial city in China that sees few foreigners, and fewer Canadians. But at the Maple Pub, the locals are getting a taste of Canada, thanks to two expats from Vancouver.

With fewer than 10 Canadians in Wenzhou, hoser bar gives a taste of home

Tim Kryzanowski (blue shirt) and Natalie Nathanson (right) co-own The Maple Pub in Wenzhou, China. Also pictured are fellow co-owners, Elena Kurnosova, Gennady Kharitonov, of Russia (Tim Kryzanowski (submitted))

The Chinese city of Wenzhou is off the beaten path for most.

It’s an industrial city of 10 million better known for making lighters than welcoming tourists.

But thanks to a pair of Vancouver expats, Canadians will probably feel right at home.

Those expats are Natalie Nathanson and Tim Kryzanowski, and they are co-owners of The Maple Pub, a new bar that’s more Canadian than a moose covered in maple syrup.

The walls are covered in advertisements for ski hills, a giant maple leaf is painted on the wall and it’s got enough billiards to rival any Legion Hall.

Few Canadians in Wenzhou

Nathanson and Kryzanowski came to Wenzhou in 2009 to teach English. They planned on staying for a year, but wound up making it their home.

But as Canadians, they were a bit of an oddity. They estimate there are only about 400 expats in the city, and fewer than 10 are Canadian.

“It’s really funny because [locals] walk in and they say, where are you from? And there’s a giant Canadian flag behind them!” Nathanson told On The Coast’s Stephen Quinn.

Kryzanowski said people in Wenzhou — even their fellow expats — are pretty clueless about Canada.

So what better place to begin their education than a bar?

The menu features poutine with an international twist, including Mexican, Italian and Russian flavours (it’s called the “Vladimir Poutine”).

There’s plenty of Canadian whisky and the fridge is full of Moosehead.

No word on if they’ve been able to get Nanaimo bars, however.

Where do you get Clamato in China?

But getting all these Canadian goodies is challenging in a place like Wenzhou.

“We’re trying to make Caesars but you can’t get Clamato here,” Nathanson said. “We have to make the Caesars with actual clam juice. It’s kind of hard to get the portions right.”

The Maple Pub only had its “soft open” a week ago, but it’s building a reputation, especially among the expat community.

Next up for Kryzanowski and Nathanson is a Thanksgiving potluck, and once hockey season begins, they want the Maple Pub to be the hot spot for NHL action.