How the Silver Inn Changed Chinese Food in Calgary

In 1975, a newly arrived family from Hong Kong decided to open a Chinese restaurant outside of Calgary's Chinatown. Two sisters, Louise Tsang and Lily Wong found an old cafe on 4th Street SW with a sign that said "Silver Inn". The building was worn out but the sign was still in excellent condition.

Silver Inn's original menu included some western as well as Chinese food and was revamped to include their new Peking-style Chinese dishes, some of which were deemed strange for Calgarians' palates at the time.

ginger beef and restaurant review from

Initially they had to serve a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches to please customers who weren't ready for the new Chinese dishes. That's when Lily's husband, George Wong who was also the restaurant's chef, decided to take out an old beef recipe he had used while in England and tweaked it to satisfy the beef eating habits of Cow Town: he coated the beef strips in batter.

The new recipe was initially called "Deep fried shredded beef in chili sauce" and the word about its delicious taste and texture soon spread around town. Ginger beef was born.

The family behind the Silver Inn will not brag about inventing the famous dish, but they are willing to admit that they helped popularize a dish that is still the best selling dish on their menu.

The restaurant moved to its current location on the corner of Centre Street and 26 Avenue North in 1978 and the rest is history... Louise and Lily's brother, Kwong Cheung, is now the owner of the Silver Inn Restaurant and his sisters have retired.

Read more about the history of the Silver Inn right here.