While piping hot bowls of ramen and dumplings from the steamer are comforting in the wintry months, sometimes the palate starts to crave lighter fare as temperatures rise. Richmond’s dining landscape showcases a diversity of summery dishes from Asian countries with hot climates. From appetizers to desserts, restaurants throughout Richmond offer the opportunity for a refreshing, cooling eating experience, allowing you to embrace the summer heat.
Salads and Chilled Starters
Vietnamese salads epitomize a food culture that has perfected a confluence of flavours and textures. Green Lemongrass (8180 Westminster Highway) offers a beautiful green papaya salad that comes with crunchy julienned green papaya, pickled carrot, Thai basil, caramelized onion, crushed peanuts, and vinaigrette. Choose between shrimp, shredded chicken, shrimp and pork, and beef jerky for the protein.
The newly opened and very stylish Com Vietnamese (#120-7688 Alderbridge Way) also features an excellent papaya salad with fresh papaya, carrot, lemon, onion, mixed herbs, prawns, pork loin slices, crushed peanuts, and house made dressing.
In many Chinese regional cuisines, the culinary solution to hot weather are liang cai, small cold dishes that give the sizzling wok a break. The cucumber salad at Chuan BBQ (#130-8291 Westminster Highway) is incredibly satisfying, with smashed cucumber, a garlic vinegar dressing, and cilantro. The cucumber retains its crunchiness while also melding with the dressing after being smashed.
In addition, Chuan BBQ has a cold black fungus dish with mustard oil; a similar dish can be found at the Szechuan/Hunan Marine Bay Restaurant (8511 Alexandra Road) where diners can order cold black fungus with garlic and chilies. The texture of the fungus works particularly well in a colder dish alongside the heat of the chilies.
Meanwhile, Northern Chinese cold small plates, such as spicy and sour kelp, and spicy shredded potato, can be found at Old Xian’s Food (#1111-3779 Sexsmith Road). These bites are an ideal prelude to the main course dishes offered at the restaurant.
Noodle fans can still slurp merrily away during the summer months, except instead of enjoying steaming rich broth, they can refresh themselves with zippy dressings and raw vegetable toppings.
Yah-Yah-Ya Ramen (#1423-8388 Capstan Way) offers some special summer options, such as a ramen salad with carrots, tomato, shrimp, scallops, lettuce, and red cabbage. They also have two cold ramen dishes, a spicy version with sliced chashu, seaweed, kimchi, cucumber, and bean sprouts; as a well as non-spicy option with sliced chashu, tomato, cucumber, egg crêpe strips, and bean sprouts. Toss it all together with the accompanying vinegary sweet soy dressing for the ultimate hot weather meal.
When the mul naeng-myeon arrives at the table at SURA Korean BBQ (Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way), it almost looks too beautiful to eat. Buckwheat noodles lie in iced beef broth, along with cucumber, sliced Asian pear, a tomato slice, and a boiled egg. Servers come with mustard and vinegar bottles, as well as scissors for cutting the noodles once or twice to make for easier eating. The combination of the slippery noodles, cold broth, and crisp fruit and vegetables has a satisfying cleansing effect. Those who want more spicy heat can go for the bibim naeng-myeon, which features red chili paste.
Shaved Ice and Tofu Pudding
End with a cooling dessert (calories don’t count in the heat, right?). Snowy Village Dessert Café (#113-8571 Alexandra Road; and Aberdeen Mall, 4151 Hazelbridge Way) specializes in Korean bingsoo, a shaved ice milk dessert that is topped with a variety of sweet ingredients. Snowy Village takes this treat to the next level with innovative versions, such as a chocolate bingsoo with cheesecake, milk chocolate rocks, natural cocoa powder, chocolate milk syrup, and fresh whipped cream. The watermelon bingsoo with ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, and nuts can be particularly good on a hot day.
The silky texture of tofu pudding makes it a lovely summer indulgence. iTofu (#125-4940 No. 3 Road), which originates from the Richmond Night Market, features a tofu pudding that you can top with items like red beans, black sugar, and taro balls. Tofu parfaits and a selection of Tofucotta (including a London Fog option) can make the decision-making even more difficult!