Twenty years of Cheelin | The Coast Halifax

Twenty years of Cheelin

Fanny Chen’s Brewery Market mainstay celebrates two decades of memorable flavours and loyal customers.

Twenty years of Cheelin
Samson Learn
Cheelin’s Fanny Chen keeps things “fresh, flavourful and tasty.”

Cheelin Restaurant
1496 Lower Water Street, 902-422-2252

Succulent, intertwined chicken fried noodles, glistening pan-fried dumplings and steaming hot and sour soup are only a few of the mouth-watering dishes at Cheelin Restaurant, one of Halifax's best-known Chinese cuisines. This month, Cheelin celebrates 20 years in business at its Brewery Market location.

"We are the best," says owner Fanny Chen, whose restaurant has placed in the top three in the Best of Halifax polls several times over and has also won Best Stall at the Halifax Farmers' Market, where Cheelin's second take-away location has been open since 2010. Chen says she never expected it.

In 1989, Chen moved to Halifax from east China with her husband and son and a degree in meteorology. Unable to find a job in her field without returning to school, she opted to work in restaurants. "I became interested in opening my own business and people really liked my food," she says. "An opportunity came through my husband's friends to help them open a restaurant in the Brewery Market, to set up everything, so I did. In 1995, they asked if I wanted to take it over. I think I did a good job by myself, working hard, 60 to 70 hours, seven days a week. I'm lucky people like us and like my food."

Chen says Cheelin's two menus—one with popular items and one with very traditional dishes—have always brought a range of customers to her table. "Many Chinese students like the traditional menu; it's like home meals, home away from home. We're lucky to have both Chinese and local customers."

She says it's hard to believe it's been 20 years of such hard work. Her secret? The food at Cheelin is all about the flavour. Between Chen and her two Chinese chefs, who have over 25 years of experience, Cheelin focuses on quality and taste. "We use really fresh, local ingredients. In the winter, summer and fall, all the vegetables are local," she says. "We have gluten-free options and we don't use MSG. We are the best because we keep our ingredients fresh, flavourful and tasty."