Friday, May 3, 2013

GUIDE: Discovering the Asian Culinary Scene in Richmond, BC - #TweetEatRichmond


By Charles Koh

Discovering Food Street in Richmond, BC

8 lucky Seattleites were chosen among 800 applicants to go on a food adventure of a lifetime to one of Vancouver's distinguished Asian culinary scenes, Richmond, BC. I, (Charles) was one of the lucky few who was invited to participate in a series led by foodie Lindsay Anderson of 365 Days of Dining. Join me as I take you from restaurant to restaurant as we explore the in's and out's of some of the best eats in Richmond.

Richmond has the remarkable and unique feature of having over 800 restaurants (400 of which are Asian) in a city of 200,000 where 65% of the population is of Asian descent. One can essentially visit a different eatery every day of the year without duplication. Thus, 365 Days of Dining was born. Lindsay Anderson was selected from 1,507 world-wide applicants to become the Richmond Foodie Blogger. Lindsay is now in the midst of her year-long foodie adventure, eating in a different Richmond eatery for 365 consecutive days, all the while engaging, blogging and photographing the experience.
Lucky for us, we got the lucky privilege to join her on her foodie adventure in Richmond.  Let's get started with one of Richmond’s most popular and celebrated Cantonese restaurant, boasting a large menu and a grand dining room with glittering crystal chandeliers.

The restaurant is located in the heart of the Golden Village.  Luckily we lined up about 10 minutes before it open and had a reservation so getting a table was piece a cake.  A reservation is highly advised if you're planning on going for brunch with of your friends.  As you get stated, you'll be created by the server with a slip of paper and pencil for ordering.  Unlike traditional dim sum restaurants, you won't be seeing a cart full of dim sum rolling around (most likely to keep all the dishes fresh and steamy).

The first dish that came to the table was the Deep fried squid with spicy salt.  It was crispy, a hint of spice and salt that suited the palate nicely with the hot green tea.

The Deep Fried Taro Root & Pork Dumplings aka Wu Gok is a popular dim sum dish in Hong Kong around the world (probably my favorite dish of the morning).  The coral like ball is made of a boiled and mashed taro root with seasoned ground pork stuffed in a lightly battered flour, then deep-fried into a savory masterpiece. It's crisp, light, and fluffy.

The next dish was a dim sum classic called Shumai or Pork Dumplings with Tobiko.  The dish made up of minced lamb, seasoned ground pork, whole and chopped shrimp, Chinese black mushroom, lye water dough and a sprinkle of tobiko to top it off.  I really enjoyed this dish.

What makes dim sum so great is the ability to eat dessert or should I say dessert-like dishes in the middle of your meal.  The Baked BBQ Pork Pastry is a two-in-one dish that does just that.  It's sweet, saucy and baked to perfection.

Now, let's get a little more adventurous!  The photo on the bottom left is a Baby Octopus Japanese Style.  At first they look like little starfishes with an extra arm or two.  These little creatures are crunchy, sweet and have a chewy texture to them.  Not my favorite, but worth a try for you octopus lovers.

The photo to the right is a Steamed Mini Sponge Cake with Nuts.  I'd save this one for last as it's a good way to end the meal as well as freshen up your breath. 

These small cuts of Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Eggplant packed bold flavors perfect for the carnivore who's looking to add some veggies into the diet.

Definitely not my favorite nor a dish I'd probably order again, but some of you may be a bit more adventurous than I am.  The braised duck web with abalone mushroom in satay sauce was full of flavor, but the chewy texture of the duck web just didn't do it for me.

Getting hungry yet?  The following dish is a Triple Mushrooms in Rice Noodle Wrap.  This soft, silky rice cake melts in your mouth as the warm cooked mushrooms in a soy sauce like base.
This next dish was the Steamed Baby Cuttlefish in Curry Sauce.  I was absolutely thrilled to try this dish because I've never seen it at Seattle dim sum restaurants, but then again, I've never heard of a Cuttlefish either.  The curry sauce in this dish paired very nicely with the delicate fish.

The bottom right are Steamed Pork Dumplings with Quail Eggs. Mmmm, the warm quail egg combined with the dumpling 

The Pan Fried Turnip Cake with Preserved meat is a popular dim sum dish as well as a common appetizer served during Chinese New Year dinner in Cantonese region.  It had a nice crispy outer layer to it with a soft middle.  I light aroma of the mean was divine... 

I was very excited about the Steamed Beef Short Ribs in X.O. Chili Sauce.  Being Korean, I'm used to grilling these bad boys on fire smothered in a tangy sauce.  So, how did they compare?  The steamed ribs were very tender, light and flavorful.  The X.O. chili sauce gave it a nice little kick to it as well.

Fisherman’s Terrace is definitely a place worth checking out when you're in Richmond.  Big ups for taste, selection and service.

What better way to wash down dim sum than a hot cup of fresh tea.  Did you know you should never drink tea on an empty stomach.  Tea experts say, you should drink tea during or after a meal due to our stomach's state of acidity and the teas alkalizing process.

Aberdeen Centre’s unique fusion of East meets West shopping, dining, entertainment and service amenities include eight full-service restaurants, an 800-seat food court, exciting weekly Arts and Cultural performances as well as the only state-of-the-art musical fountain show in Canada.

Highlights of the mega-mall include an extensive Asian food court, a Lamborghini outlet, the $2 Japanese bargain shop Daiso, authentic herb and tea shops and a store that specializes in “luxury” toilets.

There are over 100 types of oolong teas

High quality tea can be reused multiple times
The best way to serve tea is by first warming up the vessel with hot water for a few minutes, then drop in fresh tea leaves, top it off with hot water, serve.



Located inside the Aberdeen Centre, you'll find a Mei Jan Hong, a local favorite where you can find fresh beef and pork jerky.  At Mei Jan Hong, the jerky maker will air-dry the square cuts of meat in stainless-steel drying boxes in the back, then grilled in front until it get's it's grill marks and smoky in flavor.

The sweet and spicy smell of jerky will gravitate you to the open glass stove as you start to salivate...

The grilled jerky is then placed in a plastic container where you can then select from various flavors of meat, from a sweet pork jerky all the way to a spicy beef jerky.


Looks like even the locals love Korean food.

Richmond is full of some of authentic chinese cuisine even in the food court.  You won't be finding a McDonalds in here.

Who doesn't like a good sale.
The next stop was to Leisure Tea & Coffee, a mainstay for tea, coffee, tasty snacks and Taiwanese bubble tea!  This cozy shop has been around for over 16 years.

Shaved ice with fresh mangos.

Fresh strawberry smoothie // Fresh squeezed lemonade


Hand pressed waffle with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and of course whipped cream.



Steveston: A Hidden Gem 

Our stomachs started to get full, but that didn't stop us!  Next stop was to Steveston, located off a picturesque corner of Richmond where the Fraser River and the Pacific meet, Steveston is a charming, scenic village worth talking about. Established in the early 1800’s during the fishing cannery boom, the now Historic Fishing Village of Steveston is a lively destination for West Coast shopping, dining and exploring. Today, it’s a thriving home to the largest commercial fishing fleet in Canada and two National Historic Sites, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and Britannia Shipyards. Stroll Fisherman’s Wharf and watch as locals barter for the catch of the day including fresh salmon, crab, halibut and shrimp. Favourite pastimes include shopping at the unique boutiques sprinkled throughout the village, or savouring the temptations at the dock side restaurants.
Shady Island Seafood Bar & Grill located just off the water in Steveston offers fresh seafood dishes, popular chowders and local brews.


Vivacity (noun): liveliness; animation; sprightliness

Recognized as one of the best southern Chinese restaurants in Richmond, Vivacity serves up a mix of innovative and traditional Cantonese dishes, with a focus on fresh seafood. Ask the regulars at this family-run restaurant on ‘Food Street’ and they’ll tell you what keeps them coming back for more: delicious and skillfully prepared food, and staff that treats their diners like family.
This was the start to our Alaskan King Crab dinner.  Lucky for us, we got to try it in a variety of ways (steamed, deep fried, off the shell, fried rice). 
This crab was about 12 pounds... and yes it was alive! 

Roasted duck cut thinly served with lettuce wraps. 
Tsingtao is the #1 selling Chinese beer in the U.S. The Lager and Pure Draft have been brewed using the same unique process since 1903.
Roasted duck dish with pine nuts, mushrooms, carrots and green scallions   
Alaskan King Crab served up on a half shell seasoned with butter, garlic and ginger. 
Food paparazzi's taking over as the half shelled crab pieces come out to the table.

Salt & pepper King Crab knuckles in a light tempura batter with jalapeno's and garlic.



Hot and Sour soup with Alaskan King Crab and mushrooms.

Noodles in a broth from steamed crab, fresh ginger and green onions.





A fresher way to make chicken... Steamed.

The Roasted eggplant with chinese broccoli was the perfect dish with the crab dishes.




Seafood chow mein




Black bean spare ribs


My favorite dish of the evening goes to the Portuguese fried rice. The Alaskan King Crab is pulled from the shell and and stir fried with rice and other flavors then topped with

It’s fried rice with crab meat baked inside the Alaskan King Crab shell head. It’s Chinese style gourmet “baked Portuguese rice”. The top looks like baked on cheese, but it’s actually the tomalley (guts/sperm/organs/brains) of the crab. It’s made into an indulgent cream sauce with perhaps a hint of curry or turmeric for colour, but it’s not spicy. It tastes like a curry bechamel with some seafood flavour and it’s very buttery, rich and extremely high in cholesterol… that’s why it’s so damn good though.



Baked tapioca for dessert.


Sesame puffs and almond cookies.









This modern Hong Kong-style café has quickly become a local favorite perhaps in part due to its pledge to “strive for the best for you.” With an attention to detail in its ontemporary design, diners enjoy this restaurant’s signature dishes including congee, baked pork chops, hot pot, noodles in fish soup and real fruit bubble tea.


All you can sing karaoke!










Hong King style chicken & waffles. Hong Kong style!
Lemon Ribena soda and Fried Turnip Cake.



Spicy peanut soup topped with pumpkin.



The Laksa, curry coconut soup was my favorite dish.


Singapore comfort food. Seafood and pork chop "rice bake".

Tom Yum soup with noodles.

The fried turnip cake has a crispy outside layer with a warm center.

Our next stop was to Haroo, a Korean Homestyle restaurant.
Stirfried dried anchovy side dish / 멸치볶음 / Myulchibokkeum.  These little dried fishies are my favorite starters that are sweet, tangy and crunchy. 
A perfect starter salad with a sweet raspberry dressing. 
One of my favorite Korean dishes is grilled Galbi. Usually it's marinated beef (or pork) short ribs in a ganjang-based sauce (Korean soy sauce).[1] In the Korean language, galbi literally means "rib" and can refer to cooked or uncooked ribs. Although the dish's full name is galbi gui, the word "gui" (grilling) is commonly omitted.

Ddeokbokki shown above is a popular Korean dish made with gochujang, a fermented spicy paste made from chilli peppers, marinated beef and fish cakes.


Jeon (also spelled jun or chon), also referred to as a Korean pancake is a popular dish that is typically made with seafood, and vegetables mixed with flour batter or coated with egg batter and then pan-fried with oil.

The presentation of this dish was beautiful. Bulgogi is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef which is marinated with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper and other ingredients such as scallions, ginger, onions and mushrooms.




This is a bulgogi dish with think udon noodles and vegetables.



This seafood dish with udon noodles was delicious... one of my favorites.

Here is a spicy version of the classic ddeokbokki dish with cheese and broccoli. 


As you may have noticed, there are many Korean dishes that are SPICY!  This is the spicy Bulgogi grilled marinated pork dish will have you begging for water.


Here is a signature Korean dish called Bibimbap.  The word "Bibimbap" translates to "mixed rice" which is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), gochujang (chili pepper paste) and a raw or fried egg over the rice.

Nan Chuu is a small Izakaya restaurant along Richmond’s “Food Street,” popular with regulars who like to cozy up with some sake or Japanese beer, tasty share plates, and good company. Popular menu items include takoyaki (octopus dumplings) with bonito flakes, fresh seared tuna tataki, and Lindsay’s “must order,” the Saba Shioyakni (broiled Mackerel).

Once we got into the restaurant, we were served Seared Otoro Tuna.  A super fatty tuna belly seared with blow torch garnished with yuzu extract and green onions. If it's your first time hearing about it, it's a well-marbled fatty tuna that literary melts in your mouth like butter. I highly recommend this dish.

The second dish that was brought out was the classic Gyoza filled with pork and vegetables then deep fried.

The next dish is a popular dish called Takoyaki. A popular ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It's typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. The Takoyaki is then brushed with takoyaki sauce, a sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise, and sprinkled with green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito (katsuobushi). Once you pop these into your mouth, the flavors will explode intensely.



Here is a new dish I got to try called Tako Wasabi. A bit slimy, chewy and spicy.  The dish consists of wasabi marinated octopus and served alongside with dried seaweed.


Do you love fish? Try the grilled Mackerel or Saba Shioyaki the next time you go to a Japanese restaurant.  It's one of the more popular seafood dishes served as an entree or part of a bento combination in Japanese restaurants here in the U.S.


The last stop of the trip was to the Kuan Yin Temple of the International Buddhist Society. A magnificent and authentic temple of traditional Chinese architecture in North America. With its golden porcelain tiles glittering on the roof top, this Buddhist temple is similar to that of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Discover the intricacies and superb workmanship of traditional Chinese art and culture. Stroll through the peaceful and tranquil courtyard to view the bonsai plants and the spectacular ceramic mural of Kuan-Yin-Bodhisattva. The artistic interior houses artifacts of Chinese workmanship in sculpture, painting, carpentry and embroidery. On a regular visit, guests can enjoy a Buddhist ceremony, lectures, meditation classes or a tea ceremony. The Temple is situated on 12 acres and serves one of the largest congregations of Buddhists in British Columbia.